exclusive interview with g20 chief director


reposted from the cctv news

with the g20 summit only days away, the last rehearsal for the opening gala will be organised tonight. chief director zhang yimou was exclusively interviewed by cctv.

mr. zhang is directing the crew

cao yan (cctv journalist, henceforth referred to as cao): we are all looking forward to the gala.  as we all know, the gala will be staged on the venue for impression wonder. does that mean it is related to impression wonder or is it totally different? could you please tell us something more about the gala? 

zhang yimou (chief director of the gala, henceforth referred to as zhang): the central government decided to use the same venue as the impression west lake show. but we have definitely given the show a face-lift, so what you will see is a completely different gala, with only one mechanical device and one water-splashing movement unchanged. the gala will last for a little over 50 minutes, and that means every detail within the short time span counts. to ensure success, every one of the team has done their best. so finally we have a symphony concert staged on water.

artists are rehearsing

cao: what were your considerations when you chose the form of a symphony concert?

zhang: yes. first, symphony is elegant and sophisticated. second and most importantly, it is a universal language. in my view, the g20 summit is an occasion for discussing and addressing common problems facing the world as well as an occasion for inclusive development. that’s why we only accepted well-known musical pieces. 

the orchestra is rehearsing

zhang: both world-renowned pieces and traditional chinese pieces have the same emotional appeal: they are communicating love, unity, power and beauty, all of which are universal themes of the human community. with that in mind, the rest came naturally. the visuals should be spectacular, unique and poetic and they should complement the music. then factor in the setting, the west lake, which is a world apart from the loess plateau both in terms of cultural symbolism and natural landscape. a performance on the lake, in my view, needs to make the most of the natural beauty and the cultural connection. how splendid the view would be if we were watching a group of people strolling on water, with their shadows cast on the illuminated lake. a performance on water would be very very difficult; but well-designed, it could also be divinely beautiful. 

cao: it seems that water is an important element for the gala.

zhang: i think water is the source of life. water in the west lake, moreover brings in cultural meanings. so all the performances are centred on water. as the saying goes, one water drop mirrors the sun and the world, each one of us is like a water drop, and together we form a vast ocean.

cao: we saw a lot of chinese elements and i suppose they are fused with things western and international ?

zhang: exactly. i think the best performance is one that is understandable and relevant to all. so what we would not want is things alien to a foreigner.

cao: have you used new techniques for the gala?

zhang: the venue is holographic with interactions between performers and images. such techniques and devices for indoor application have been popular in recent years; but outdoor application or application on water is new. that’s why we decided to try them out. you will see the holographic effect in swan lake. i think the idea is creative. we often joke that it might be the first time that swan lake is staged on a lake. the holographic effect, moreover, helps us to communicate the idea that music and beauty are universal.

ballerinas are rehearsing on water

cao: i observed one rehearsal and was impressed by the performance featuring the artificial fountain. what’s the idea behind that performance?

zhang: the performance originates from impression lake, but new elements have been integrated so that what you will see is lights and then people. i like the form of “people fountain”. even heroic pieces, such as symphony no. 9 by beethoven is in essence an ode to unity, the power of man, and the human spirit. that’s why highlighting the human factor is most appropriate. 

cao: what do you think of the role of the gala in relation to the g20 summit?

zhang: i accepted the mission over a year ago. artists from around the nation have been enthusiastic. i think what is most important for us artists is to have the awareness of telling good stories about china. i often have the feeling that what i take on is not a personal commission, but a responsibility to promote china’s soft power and image in the global arena. whatever the duration or form, a project is a window to various aspects of china.(cctv journalists cao yan, wang youwen)
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