Interview with Tsai Ming-liang
APA: 可以談一下新片《臉》的創作過程嗎? 最開始的時候是有一些影像還是有一個故事?
[Can you talk about the creative process for your new film Face? When you first came up with the idea, were you inspired more by an image or a story line?]
Tsai Ming-liang: 很復雜, 很難說開始的時候有什麼, 但開始的時候心裡要有個東西. 羅浮宮請我拍一個作品的時候, 他問我想拍什麼, 他並不是說我們希望你拍什麼. 我想了一下很快就說我想拍Jean-Pierre Léaud的臉, 拍李康生和Jean-Pierre相遇. 之後我就要找為什麼我要拍他的臉, 當然一定會有很強烈的概念.
[It's complicated. It's hard to tell what came to me first, but I'm sure I must have had something in my mind. When the Louvre Museum asked me to make a film, instead of telling me what they wanted me to make, they asked me what I wanted to make. I thought for a moment and told them I wanted to film Jean-Pierre Léaud's face. I wanted to film Jean-Pierre and Lee Kang-sheng meeting. After, I needed to figure out why I wanted to film their faces, and I definitely needed a strong concept.]
APA: 《臉》這部電影可以說是和西方藝術結合的, 那麼作為一個立足台灣的導演, 怎樣在電影中和西方文化融合?
[One can say that Face is a film that mixes with Western arts. As a Taiwanese director, how did you manage to combine these different cultures in your movie?]
TM:在我的概念裡電影是非常個人的, 當然如果你到好萊塢或者商業片的範疇裡, 它就是另一種思考邏輯. 還是那個意思, 每個導演有自己的命. 我不把自己放在工業的體制裡思考, 我把自己當作是精致手工業, 不是擺路邊攤的. 我將來希望我的電影可以賣很貴, 不是兩百塊一張票的. 我有很多特別的概念慢慢在 (發展), 不是我要做就做得到, 整個趨勢也在推著我走. 電影商業到極致的時候, 那個人創作在不在? 如果個人創作不在就沒有電影藝術這個東西, 就只剩下商品了. 我們就不要總是說電影是藝術電影是藝術, 而藝術了你就不看了. 個人創作是關於個人的, 你不管把我丟到哪裡我都要想辦法變成我的個人. 他們請我去羅浮宮當然是很大的榮耀, 但我不可能三年變成一個法國人, 三年就了解法國文化這不可能. 可我還是要很用功地做一些功課, 但還是很潛的了解. 所以我還是要拍個人的作品. 比如說我拍Jean-Pierre Léaud, 那是我個人觀影經驗對法國電影的理解, 對演員的崇敬. 比如我拍Jean-Pierre和李康生在羅浮宮相遇, 那是我非常個人的一種向往. 畢竟我在羅浮宮不能拍一個東方的東西, 我要去思考西方, 找到自己對西方的理解. 所以我拍莎樂美, 西方人說怎麼莎樂美的輕紗舞是這樣跳的, 在他們的經驗裡都是那樣那樣的. 我說你們忘了, 電影是有導演的, 所以那就是我的輕紗舞嘛. 是我的表達, 所以也是可以成立的. 就好像梵高看東西就看成那樣嘛.
[For me, filmmaking is very personal. Of course, it's a different situation when you talk about Hollywood and commercial movies. I think that every director has his own fate. I don't think of what I do in terms of the film industry. Rather, I see my work as the creation of exquisite craft, and not something you might buy on the street. I hope my films one day sell for large amounts of money, and are worth more than the few dollars of a movie ticket. I want to develop more interesting ideas, which isn't something I can do just by thinking about it. An entire movement is necessary to push me ahead. When the film industry is commercialized to the extreme, do we still have any personal expression? If we don't have personal expression, the art of film is gone. The only thing left are commodities. We shouldn't keep saying that “movies are art” and therefore we don't watch them.
Creation is strictly personal. No matter where I am placed, I will always try to express myself. It's a great honor that the Louvre Museum invited me to make the film, but there's no way that I can become a French person in just three years. It's impossible to totally understand French culture in three years. I tried hard nevertheless and did a lot of own research. Yet, I can't say that I have deep insight into the culture. Instead, all I could do was make my film more personal. For example, using Jean-Pierre Léaud in the film is based on my own understanding of French films and respect for French actors. The scene where Jean-Pierre and Lee Kang-sheng meet in the Louvre Museum came out of my own imagination and fantasy. Ultimately, I can't just make a film in the Louvre about Eastern culture. I have to consider Western culture – but to arrive at my own understanding of Western culture. Westerners criticize my version of Salome's dancing because it's different from their expectations. I respond that it's because you forget that each movie has its own director. This is my Salome dance. This is my expression, so it is valid. It's like how Van Gogh might have a different picture of things.]
APA: 那特呂弗能算是你最喜歡的法國導演麼? 還有誰.
[Is François Truffaut your favorite French director? ]
TM: 他算是, 但我喜歡很多, 數不盡. 比如說在《臉》裏面有一段是李康生和Jean-Pierre坐在無人的片場裏, 因為一個關系就念了很多導演的名字, 那些都是我超愛的, 但是還念不完.
[You can say that. But there're a lot more -- countless. For example, there's a scene in Face where Lee Kang-sheng and Jean-Pierre are sitting together in a studio, and they end up listing a lot of directors' names. All of them are my favorite directors. I could have gone on all day listing.]
APA: 你說到每個導演都有自己的命, 那你覺得自己對於華語電影的影響是什麼?
[You've mentioned that every director has his own fate. What do you think is your place in Chinese film?]
TM: 在紐約放完《臉》之後, 一個在美國教書的臺灣翻譯告訴我說, 有一個電影系的學生托翻譯告訴我, 他十六歲被媽媽趕出門, 一個人很沮喪地在路上走的時候進了個小電影院看了《青少年哪咤》, 從此就決定要學電影. 這個故事在日本也聽過. 我在波蘭的時候在出一本書, 他們告訴我說很多波蘭的導演在學我, 問我說這個現象好嗎? 我說有什麽不好, 比學好萊塢好一點. 學我的人通常都在找個性, 總是電影都是從模仿開始的.
[After the screening of Face in New York [Nov. 15 2009], a Taiwanese film student asked my translator to pass his story onto me: When he was 16, his mother kicked him out of the house, and he was depressed and wandering alone in the street. He went to a small movie theatre and happened to watch my film Rebels of the Neon God. From then on, he decided to study film. A similar story was told to me in Japan. And then, when I was in Poland publishing a book, I was told that a lot of Polish directors are imitating me. They asked me whether this is good or not. I said, it's not bad -- better than replicating Hollywood. People who try to imitate me actually are trying to find their own personalities. After all, filmmaking always starts with imitation.
I can't tell how much impact my films have had. When I was at the Pusan International Film Festival in Korea, some audience members told me that they made a bet ten years ago on who would survive longer: Tsai Ming-liang or Wong Kar-wai. Of course they thought it would be Wong Kar-wai; plus, his films are better than mine. But it's a miracle that I am still making films every two years, which they found interesting.]
[It's been eighteen years since your first feature film Rebels of the Neon God. What do you think of it now?]
TM: 我很少回頭看我當年的作品, 可有的時候因為電影節的機會會看頭看尾看中間, 我都會很驚訝自己當年會這樣拍, 可是也很接受. 因為每個年齡就做不同的東西, 二十歲的時候不能做四十歲的東西, 四十歲不可能又回到二十歲. 所以我是一路往前, 很少會回頭看. 說什麽東西賣錢, 什麽東西不賣錢我就不做了, 我不會這樣思考. 就是覺得生命裏有什麽感受, 有什麽思考就怎樣去表達.
[I rarely look back to my early works. In some circumstances -- for example, at film festivals -- I might get a chance to see the beginning, or the end, or part of the middle of one of my older films. I am always surprised to see how I used to make films, though I totally I accept it. People do different things at different ages. I can't do what I would do in my forties while still in my twenties, and a forty-year-old could never return to twenty. I just look at the road ahead, and rarely look back. I don't look back on which movies made money and which didn't. I just look at what I'm feeling and thinking, and I go ahead and express that.]
[After so many years of filmmaking, do you still have to make compromises in your films, due to practical demands?]
TM:越來越沒有. 我以前就沒有, 可能我比較lucky. 我的電影幾乎是人家來找我拍的, 羅浮宮是別人找來的, 上次拍《黑眼圈》是維也納市政府說我們有一筆錢給你拍個東西. 可是後來錢不夠了, 就會有電影公司幫我集資, 只要有個頭就開始來了. 所以就要思考一個問題, 不是全世界的人都這麼實際, 投資很會賺錢的導演, 或者希望它能賺錢. 大家都想賺錢想生存, 可是這個世界上還是有很多片商、發行商是真的很喜歡電影, 喜歡你的作品, 願意投資來做你的作品, 它要你有作品. 所以我的路線從一開始就是只拍給二十個人看, 但是這二十個人可以讓很多人看到. 這二十個人有片商等等, 這個片商喜歡藝術片, 他不一定喜歡我的, 可能喜歡賈樟柯, 那他就投給賈樟柯, 喜歡我就投資給我. 他們通常不把這個當成一個大的business來看, 因為大的business是比較沒有自由的.
[Less and less. Maybe I'm lucky that I've never had to compromise much. Most of my films are made because they are commissioned: for example, the Louvre Museum project and I Don't Want to Sleep Alone, where the city government of Vienna found me and gave me the money to make the film. Later we ran out of money, and there was a film company that helped me with fund-raising.
Here's the situation: not everyone in the world is that practical, only investing in directors who make money or hoping their investments make money. People all want to make money to earn a living, but still there are some producers and distributors who really like film. They like your work and are willing to invest in your work. They want you to keep working. So my way, from the very beginning, was to make films for twenty people, but to have these twenty people be able to bring my film to a larger audience. These twenty people include producers who like art films, but they might not necessarily like my work. Maybe they like Jia Zhangke's films. If they like Jia Zhangke's films, they will invest in him, and if they like mine, they will invest in me. These people don't see their work as a big business endeavor, because there would be less freedom if it were a big business.]
[You rarely use music scores in your films. Why is that? ]
TM:很少用電影配樂是一個很自然的事情. 我喜歡老歌, 很簡單. 我是個不太進步的人, 跟不上時代, 所以我喜歡的東西就很固定. 有些東西我不見得會接受, 可是我也不排斥, 也會聽一聽. 真的說感情, 當然是我年輕時候使用的那些歌, 和當時的生活背景.
[When it comes to music, it's quite natural for me not to use too much. I like old songs. I think I'm very simple. I hardly move forward, and I am behind the times, so the things I like remain the same. A lot of things I don't easily agree with, but I won't refuse them either. Sometimes I will try to listen to something new, but songs from my youth and background still affect my emotions the most.]
[You and Lee Kang-sheng have been worked together for so many years. What do you have in common, and what ties you together?]
[I don't know, I haven't thought about that. I just enjoy filming him. I think it's really amazing that you can always use the same actor, and [other than that,] it's nobody else's business. Plus, I don't need to care about the box office. Other actors may be replaced if they aren't famous, but Lee is lucky that I will never replace him. To me, it's a precious thing, the idea of filming someone becoming old and fat. Sometimes I hope that he doesn't become fat. But it's a sincere process.]
Interview with Lee Kang-sheng
[Can you tell us something about your experience in France working on Face?]
Lee Kang-sheng:可能是當演員我覺得最受禮遇的一次, 因為我們在法國真的是資金比較充裕啦. 們有自己演員的休息車子, 然後每天吃法國大餐, 從前菜吃到甜點可以吃一個多小時, 在臺灣可能就一個便當就搞定了. 而且他們工作人員非常專業, 分工很細致.
[As an actor, I've never experienced so much courtesy, since we had adequate funding in France. Every actor and actress had his or her own trailer. We had French cuisine every day, which took more than an hour from appetizer to dessert, whereas in Taiwan, we would just have a quick lunch box. Plus the French crew is very professional and highly specialized.]
[What was it like working with French actors?]
LK:語言上是比較困難啦, 因為我的外語能力不太好, 法文更差. 我覺得演員天生就有一個觀察的能力, 好像都是互相在看, 看對方觀察對方. 如果是交談的話是比較沒有很深入, 所以都是靠一些肢體語言在做這次的電影表演.
[It wasn't easy to communicate, because my foreign language skills are not very good -- and I'm even worse in French. But I think actors are born with sensitive perceptions -- we were always looking at each other to observe each other. We didn't talk in depth, so we used body language more often to act in the film.]
APA: 你現在自己也開始做導演了, 在創作和導演的過程中會不會受蔡明亮的影響?
[Now you're a director and have made your own film. Does Tsai Ming-liang influence your creative process?]
LK: 我覺得不受影響很難, 因為一開始接觸電影就是因為他的作品. 所以他也算是我的老師. 但是我在自己做創作的時候, 並不會因為他改變自己的創作, 也不會想說會太接近他的風格, 我只是想做好自己的電影, 就是想拍出一個好電影來.
[I think it's very hard not to be affected by him, since I first got involved with film because of his work. In that way, he is my teacher. But when I am creating my own projects, I won't change my ideas because of what he says. Meanwhile, I don't care if my work is too close to his style. I just want to make my movie good.]
[Which role do you prefer, being an actor or director?]
LK: 應該是做導演. 雖然壓力很大, 要受到資金和票房的壓力, 但是覺得視野變得比較開闊. 之前只注意演員的表演, 現在不管是技術方面, 燈光攝影美術, 你都會看得比較全面. 所以我還是喜歡當導演.
[I think I prefer being a director. Although I am under a lot of pressure in terms of funding and box office, my vision is much wider. Before, I only focused on acting. Now I get to be involved with everything, such as technology, lighting, cinematography, production design, and so on. So I prefer being a director.]
[For you, what's the most difficult part of being a director?]
LK: 最難的應該就是找資金, 還有在上片的時候, 因為通路的關系, 因為我們畢竟比較接近藝術, 觀眾比較小眾. 所以我們會盡量去找一些適合的觀眾, 所以我和蔡導演在臺灣的做法就是去大學做演講.
[That would be funding and distribution. Because our types of films are closer to the art world, the audience is smaller. So, we try to find our target audience. What Tsai and I do in Taiwan is to go to universities to give lectures.]
[How's your relationship with Tsai like after working together for so many years?]
LK:可能是一種不可分的關系. 因為不管他是我老師的身份也好, 他也像我的家人, 也是我的工作伙伴. 我們又合開了一家咖啡廳, 所以天天見面.
[Maybe there's an inseparable link between us. He's like my teacher, my family, and my working partner. We also opened a café together, so we see each other every day.]
[Have you thought of asking director Tsai to act in your film?]
LK:在去年我拍一個短片就找蔡導演. 那是公共電視策劃的一個節目叫《臺北異想》, 找八個新導演, 把臺北分成八個時段, 然後我拍了其中一段.
[Actually he was in a short film I did last year. It was part of the short film series Taipei 24H, produced by the Public Television Service in Taiwan. They divided Taipei into eight periods of time and found eight new directors to make short films, and I was one of them.]