“ON YOUR RADAR” IS A WEEKLY GRAD FILM NEWS SEGMENT THAT FEATURES A STUDENT PICKED AT RANDOM.
BEIER ZHONG IS CURRENTLY A 3RD YEAR STUDENT AT GRAD FILM. WE ASKED HIM A FEW QUESTIONS AND HERE’S WHAT HE HAD TO SAY:
Where do you consider home and what is it like there?
I spent most of my childhood and teenage years in Shanghai, my hometown. A lot of places I used to hang out as a child have been sacrificed to the rapid urbanization of the city. People think “childhood loss” characterizes our generation: urban development, pre-internet age, growing up as a single child. Therefore, Shanghai always gives me a mixture of tenderness and solitude. Later on, I moved to Beijing for college, and now in New York for grad school. The impact of these two cities upon me is no less than Shanghai. But still, I have decided to go back to my hometown, Shanghai, to pursue my filmmaking career. I want to capture the rise and fall of life nurtured around Suzhou River and inside covert alleys. I want to capture how lonesome souls struggle to seek connections with the world around them. The food, streets, and dialects of my hometown are one of a kind and irreplaceable.
What or who is inspiring you right now and why?
Tsai Ming-liang is my all-time favorite director. I’m grateful that I encountered his work at a later stage of my life - I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate his films when I was younger. The most common theme of his work is solitude. His films always have an aloof and detached tone, yet they are all filled with emotions – emotions that appeal to the universal of human nature, like the grand, unifying love in Buddhism. Tsai Ming-liang redefines films for me. His work made me realize that emotion can speak more than the eloquence of language. Placing a shot in a certain position, watching the actors doing something so mundane yet so profound -- it could be a man fiddling with a watermelon, walking away on the street, or slurping noodles. Yet it is when people are doing something so simple and routine that we are moved the deepest. Because it’s life itself.
What has been your most rewarding experience at NYU Tisch Grad Film so far?
There has been a lot! Like studying with Alex Rockwell and Todd Solondz. It’s such an exhilarating experience and I will be forever grateful for what they taught me. I also had a great time working with my classmates, like my cinematographer Mary. We work so well together and also, she is my best friend at school. Also, of course, I am always happy when my film gets into film festivals.