Si Jie Cao

梁碧波纪录片名人工作坊 央视网 2012年01月31日 15:02 A-A+ 二维码


SI JIE CAO was broadcasted in China Central TV Station (CCTV) in August 2003, actually I started to make this film 6 years ago.

In early 1997, 10 greatest documentary filmmakers were invited by CCTV to Beijing to attend their conference. Fortunately, I was one of them. The conference last a day, but to summarize it, the keystone has only one sentence: they invited me to make a film to reflect Chinese societies’ historic changes in 20th century. At last, my film, as well as other nine filmmaker’s work, would be cut into a ten-part documentary film series called A CENTURY.

* * *

      I began to search my subject matter since I came back Chengdu. After a month, I heard a legend: In 1943, 16 years old school girl Shuming Xiao married mosuo minority’s bandit chieftain La baocheng. Then Xiao, a Han nationality girl, had to leave her hometown — chengdu, moved from a modern city to lugu lake where the matrilineal society and the “Axia visiting marriage'' system still exist. Lugu Lake is about 1000 miles far from chengdu in mountain area. There are no lawfully registered marriage system or patriarchy clan relatives around the Lugu Lake, and Xiao lived here for about 54 years. During this long period, she never came back hometown. In summer, 1996, for some propaganda intention, one of a toothpaste factory in chengdu invited Xiao and her granddaughter Lazhu came back chengdu for a short visit, they enjoyed their stay for about half a month.

In order to know more about Xiao, I came to that toothpaste factory to interview their manager Hongzhou Chi. Chi told me, Xiao wanted to send her granddaughter Lazhu back to chengdu, working in the toothpaste factory. She had already written several letters to Chi. Chi gave me her letters and told me he hadn’t decide whether he should employ Lazhu or not, because at that time, the factory was engaged in a endless lawsuit, if he lost this lawsuit, the factory would go bankruptcy.

Suddenly, a spark flashed in my mind . Xiao’s life experienced different part of our society, from chieftain system to liberation, from nationality revolution to the development of the new China. Her personal status also changed several times, from a daughter of a Kuomingtang officer to a student, from a wife of the chieftain to a household of a cadre, from a prestigious lady to a common countrywoman. She herself was a legend. Speaking of Lazhu, if she really sent Lazhu to chengdu, everybody was happy, if she didn’t make it, the process of hard working was still tasteful. 54 years ago, Xiao stepped in to Lugu lake , 54 years later, she walked out of the Lugu lake, this is the metempsychosis of her life. So, I decided to bet my boots in it. Later, my assistant Yi Yang, my sound engineer and I came to Lygu Lake, and lived in Xiao’s firewood room for two and half months.

* * *

Finally, I met Xiao face to face. She was a 70 years old grandma. Soon, I found out she was a high-spirited, quick-witted and light-fingered women, always talking cheerfully and humorously. What’s more, she spoke bilingual languages: Mosuo language and Chengdu dialect.

What to shoot and how to shoot are always my two difficult problems that can’t be solved. Lugu Lake has the fame of a fabled abode of immortals for its pure and virgin land of natural landscapes, nestling alongside the lake lies the matriarchal society of mankind and the "Axia visiting marriage'' system. Actually, there isn’t any marriage system at all, the Axia couples live in their own mothers' houses without a real family life. It is called the fossil for the study of the development of the human being society. At first, those things really lure me. But, after I penetrate into it, I gradually aware, those things can only set the background, they are the grounding of the whole picture. Those natural background and social background mix together to form the backstage, only human being stand on the stage. His behavior and inside world in the variance of human society are the main characters of our film.

Before I went to Lugu Lake, I thought, people living in that area must be very sad when modern civilization impacted their lives. I even took it for grounded. After I stayed here for a while, I found things are totally different, on the contrary, the local people didn’t resist it, they longed for it. They searched for the modern civilization with unusual passion. Xiao eagerly sent her granddaughter back to chengdu, that’s a clear proof.

From Xiao’s point of view, only sending her granddaughter back to chengdu, can she has a bright future. What’s more, it’s not only her granddaughter’s business, it’s the return of Xiao’s own body and spirit. Like many eastern people, Xiao has a feeling of metempsychosis in her own life.

 * * *

The shooting process was really very hard. We experienced very unusual mud-rock flow in plateau area, we couldn’t wash ourselves body in two and half months. In rain season, we had to sleep with drenched quilts. The most unbearable things was to idle away our time---- Xiao always occupied with nothing, only sitting beside a stove for the whole day. So, we have nothing to do only catching flies ……

From May to July, we stayed in Xiao’s home, shot her and studied her. In late July, we had raw materials over 32 hours. Lazhu has already been sent back to chengdu . So, we ended our first period shooting plan and came back to chengdu. I cut the materials into a film called SAN JIE CHAO( Home-coming in Granddaughter).  It was broadcasted in CCTV in December 1997. In 1998, this film was rewarded “ Special Mention of International Judges, 20e Cinema du Reel” in 20e Festival International de films ethnographiques et sciologues, Paris, France.

  * * *

As Xiao’s wish, Lazhu finally came back chengdu and became a worker in the toothpaste factory.  Unfortunately, three months later, the factory went bankruptcy. Lazhu was unemployed again. She called me and cried a lot. So I took a lot of work and time to find a suitable work for her in a Chinese cuisine department of chengdu international exhibition center. Then, we lost contact to each other.          

* * *

Time passes away day by day. After 6 years, everything is changing. Because high officials of CCTV planned to make a film series called THE WEIGHT OF TIME, they invited me to shoot Lazhu’s current life. So I tried to contact Lazhu again. She surprised me a lot when she walked towards me. She was an elegant and graceful young lady with heavy makeup. I couldn’t find any sign of Lugu Lake from her. Evidently, she reborn herself and became a fashion city girl!

Lazhu told me, after she worked in chengdu international exhibition center about 3 years, she dismissed that job, entered into a private theater school. After graduation, she worked in a restaurant in the daytime and feet lugu ethical dance among different entertainment places in the nighttime. Her brother also came back chengdu and became a sophomore of southwest nationality university. Lazhu was charged with all his tuition fee and living expenses. Now, her biggest dream was to be famous. Because of the broadcasting of SAN JIE CAO, grandma Xiao had become a celebrity; someone from a beauty spot invited her to making a living by signing her name for the tourists. In resent days, she just came back Lugu Lake because of the cold winter.

I sighed for the uncertainty of the life, at the same time I shot Lazhu’s life with my assistants Rong li , Yi Yang ang Liu jiang. We mixed the new materials and the old one into a new film, and called it SI JIE CAO.

In August 2003, the No.1(News Channel), No.4(International Channel) and No.9(English Channel) of CCTV broadcasted this film separately. From audience’s mail and commentary of Internet, we knew that audience all felt happy for the return of Lazhu and her brother. Some audience even contributed money to them, helped them to live and study well. I was quite happy that my film could give some help to them.

Actually, My film’s name SAN JIE CAO is a grass name. This kind of wild grass has three sections. Living in rural areas, it isn’t fear of any cold weather or hard environment. Xiao used to tell us a proverb: life is just like San jie cao, you don’t know which section is sweet, which section is bitter. At it happens, Xiao’s proverb coincidently portraits her own life and predicts her granddaughter’s destiny. Her life has already been destined, what’s about her granddaughters’ life? which section of her life is sweet? Lazhu don’t know, Xiao don’t know and even we ourselves don’t know too. The only thing we know is:  After 6 years, Lazhu----a wild San jie cao ----has grown into ladylike Si jie cao (a grass with four section). Hope her will grow stronger and stronger in the future. At that time, maybe I will shoot a new film for her.       


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