“Have you ever thought about your own guilt?” – An interview with Director Geng Jun

Geng Jun was born in 1976 in Heilongjiang Province, China. He has directed and written many films including Hawthorn (2002), Diary In Bulk (2003), Barbecue (2004 Festival of 3 Continents, 2005 International Film Festival Rotterdam), Youth (2009 Rome International Film Festival), and The Hammer And Sickle Are Sleeping (2013 Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival best short film winner). Jun also directed Poetry And Disease (2011). In 2017 his film Free And Easy was screened at Sundance FF where it won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Cinematic Vision.

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In this interview with the Geng Jun on his latest film Free And Easy, we get a deeper look into the meaning behind this film and what it means for him.

Free and Easy is released by FilmRise, and is available on Amazon Video, iTunes, Vudu, as well as DVD and Blu-ray.

Could you share about your inspirations to write this story?

The inspirations come from my observation and experience of life. Being a fraud requires intelligence and courage. I sometimes encounter frauds and sometimes get deceived. However, I think the moment when I get deceived is beautiful, because deception appears due to goodness. Also, I’m quite interested in the normalization of crime. Under the circumstance, plenty of people are living with guilt. Besides, the scarce and precious belief under the circumstance is another important element in the film.

The film is set in your hometown. Is there any particular statement you want to make about your hometown with this film?

My hometown was once a prosperous industrial city producing coal. After years of over-exploitation, it has a deserted view of post-industrial age just as it is in the film. I grew up there and witnessed its decay. I feel upset wondering why this happened. I think everyone is guilty, including me. And I want to express the guilt and frustration in the film.

The ending of the film is a contrast; the use of green color seems to represent hell. Is that the effect you wanted to achieve? Also, the policeman fired at the audience, could you tell us about the intention of this scene?

I want to make the character look like walking in the evil yet beautiful hell.  The policeman fired at me when I’m shooting the film, and he fired at the audience when the audience is watching the film. It represents that they are continuing being evil. Also, it is a question for all of us. Have you ever thought about your own guilt?

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What message do you hope the audience will bring back with them after watching the film?

I hope the audience brings back humor and thinking. This is a sad comedy story filled with absurdity and dilapidation, friendship and kinship as well as the people living there with guilt.

What are some of the creative and financial difficulties you came across when making this film?

The process of creating the scripts is smooth. The actors have been partners and friends to me for years.  We started shooting with limited funds and were out of money after half a month. Luckily, the new production company joined in and provided timely help. We spent a year on post production with lots of help from friends. Patience was needed in many processes. Eventually, it turns out that these waiting and insistence are well worth.

Any advice for independent filmmakers, especially from Asia?

Firstly, you need to create instead of to produce. Secondly, don’t tangle with the bad environment.

Lastly, what can we expect from you next?

The new project will start to be shot at the end of 2017 when it begins snowing. It is an absurd comedy story about revenge.

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