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Week 2-2 Pam Grady, Weaving a Spell - an interview with Ann Hu

Week 2-2 Pam Grady, Weaving a Spell - an interview with Ann Hu

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http://www.reel.com/reel.asp?node=features/interviews/hu Weaving a Spell Writer-director Ann Hu unveils the secrets of Shadow Magic . By Pam Grady For her first feature film, writer-director Ann Hu set herself up with an incredible challenge: return to the country of her birth, China, with an international cast and crew to work on a multinational production about the dawn of the Chinese film industry early in the 20th century. The film, Shadow Magic charts the friendship that develops between an Englishman ( Jared Harris ), who introduces movies — the "shadow magic" of the title — to China and a young Chinese photographer ( Xia Yu ). With stunning locations that include the Great Wall and fascinating characters like the real-life opera singer turned silent movie star, Lord Tan ( Li Yusheng ), and the Empress Ci Xi (Li Bin), Shadow Magic presents an entrancing look back at a pivotal moment in China's history. Recently, Shadow Magic made its San Francisco debut with two sold out shows at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. While she was in town for the festival, Hu sat down with Reel to talk about the pain and pleasure of making the film and what it was like to revisit China. Q: What inspired you to make Shadow Magic in the first place? Ann Hu: It was just a subject manner, in the beginning, nothing more. Once you acquire a subject and start writing and everything, the subject becomes you. The subject is no longer important. The subject is only a carrier, a backdrop, and everything else you just fabricate, or create, as they call it, which is very nice. Q: It's your first feature film. It involved an international co-production and going back to China to shoot it. Did you find that prospect daunting at all? Your film is very ambitious for a first feature. AH: It was like a battle. Before getting to it, you don't know what you're getting into. It you had known that there were thousands of soldiers marching towards you with guns in their hands, you would be terrified. And you wouldn't think you'd be able to come out alive. For me, I went into it totally blind. I didn't know what's involved. Once you're in it, and you have to make the next step, you have to just make it through. Everything's impossible. You have to jump onto the opportunity that makes it possible. I was sentenced to death many times, not even once was I given a chance to live, until they said, "We can probably give you two more years." More miracles like that happen and you add them up. Eventually it became an international co-production, involving many countries. My next partner would give me
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money, but it would never be enough, so I'd have to search for the next. The next happened to be Germans, the next happened to be Japanese. It was not like I had this all planned out, like a war, where I was calling all the shots. It's nothing like that. When you finish the film, you look back and you say, "Ooh, this was a huge war, and I was involved with so many allies." Whoever came along became part of the team.
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