30/10/2020.- On the penultimate day of the 65th Seminci, Chinese filmmaker Zheng Lu Xinyuan presented her first film, The Cloud in Her Room, a “contemporary” story that was born in 2013, when she was living in the United States as a production student. The film won this year’s Tiger Award at the Rotterdam Festival.
“Due to the physical distance and the time difference, I started thinking more and more about where I come from, my roots, and certain moments from my past that were in my memory”, explained the director in the press conference held after the screening.
All those feelings led her to write the script during her period in the US, although she rewrote it after returning to China, which is when she started looking for locations and thinking about who could play the roles, with the idea of rooting the story in her country’s current reality. Looking at Instagram pictures she found the protagonist, in whose eyes she saw fragility. After meeting and becoming friends, they filmed together a short “that was more something fun we did to get to know each other better”.
“It’s not a script I wrote for her, but when I held the casting she was one of the main candidates”, explained Zheng Lu Xinyuan, adding that there is a part of the film that is shot digitally “which maintains the film’s original essence”.
In this aspect, she remembered that when she was writing the script she was already imagining the film in black and white, mixing image textures, but it was with the director of photography that she carried out a process of exploration during the shooting that was completed in the editing and postproduction.
Spaces as “Memory Containers”
The Cloud in Her Room is filmed in Hangzhou, her hometown, where she selected spaces that have a meaning for her, not separately, but jointly. “They work as the protagonist’s memory containers (…) The old flat where she grew up is the first setting of the film and it’s a very important one. She’s walking around the city, from one place to another, from one relationship to another, and the only place where she really belongs is that old flat. It’s very symbolic”.
The director, who hasn’t had the opportunity to enjoy the award she won at the Rotterdam Festival due to the pandemic, also admitted the difficulties she encountered getting funding due to the challenges that, in her opinion, her work presents. “It was a matter of finding the right person to collaborate”, she added optimistically, before referring to the complicated situation that Chinese independent cinema faces, since from the outset it’s targeting a “very specific and limited” audience.
“For me, that challenge doesn’t only come from the film’s content, but from being a new director, and a woman. At this moment, making a movie being a woman and an amateur is a challenge, but there’s a good side to it, because there are not so many at the moment, and that makes our voice heard more”, she highlighted.
Her wish, like any director’s, is to see her film released, although the current situation doesn’t make it especially easy, as she herself admitted. For this reason, she admitted that “it would be a blessing” for The Cloud in Her Room to find its own audience, either on the Internet, through festivals or in any other medium.