Until next time: Filmmakers discuss their impressions of China
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A slower-paced itinerary for the sixth and final full day of the Golden Panda International Filmmakers Cultural Immersion Trip gave members of the trip a chance to soak in and reflect on the richness of Chinese daily life, historical legacy and modern achievements at three corresponding locations: the hutongs of old Beijing, the Summer Palace and Olympic Park.
The morning began with a mellow tour by pedicab through the hutong areas near the Drum Tower in central Beijing. With a history dating back to the Yuan Dynasty, the hutong is a traditional type of residential area of Beijing characterized by narrow alleyways lined with single-storey residences called the siheyuan, which consists of four wings around a rectangular courtyard.
The Golden Panda delegation enjoyed the rustic neighbourly feeling of the community. Many residents kept the doors of their siheyuan open where neighbours could call out a greeting as they walked by and see one another go about their daily lives. Small independent bars and cafes also dotted the street corners, giving the hutongs a modern update that still preserved the quirky and entrepreneurial neighbourhood character.
Colin Dussaud (left) and Dara Kell took a tour in Nanluoguxiang
“It doesn’t look like a tourist place, and it’s a tiny and sweet neighbourhood but has a lot of hip bars with things in English – I didn’t expect it, but it made me want to go there,” said Colin Dussaud of France, winner of Best Screenplay. “I like that this was like a little city in the city, and I feel at home in an area like that because it’s so cozy.”
“I loved seeing all those people, all of the sights, the sounds – I heard music coming down alleyways,” said Golden Panda Festival judge Christopher Lane of Canada. “Occasionally you’d walk by someone’s residence and they would be cooking, smells wafting this way and that way, and I took in everything I could.”
Afterwards, the Golden Panda delegates enjoyed free time walking around nearby Nanluoguxiang, an area of the best preserved hutong architecture in Beijing, sampling street food and souvenir shops. Several members of the delegation stopped by a workshop opened by an artist who makes comical recreations of ancient Chinese paintings and traditional emblems out of polymer clay. The delegation was granted a special tour of the museum upstairs of the workshop, which is not yet open to the public.
After lunching on dumplings at a restaurant decorated in a rural Chinese style, the Golden Panda delegation arrived at the Summer Palace, where the imperial court used to stay when they wished to escape the heat of the city. Though lines at the entrance were long due to the Qingming Festival long weekend, the wait was worth the priceless view of Kunming Lake with the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity rising on longevity hill as if on a postcard, which made every exclaim. Model and actress Alexandria Kayy said she was “absolutely stunned” by “that first picture-perfect view,” and it is possibly the most photographed angle in the park.
At the Summer Palace, the delegation explored the palace halls, took a boat ride, and visited other major attractions such as the Marble Boat, Long Corridor and Rainbow Bridge. The magnolia trees and peach blossoms were in full bloom at the palace, making it easy to imagine why this place was loved by the imperial family. Actor and screenwriter Gabriel Furman of the USA, whose film won a Special Jury Award at the Golden Panda Festival, won a pair of painted chopsticks in a competition to count the number of lions spanning the Rainbow Bridge.
Filmmakers took a group photo in the Summer Palace
“The Summer Palace was such a beautiful, relaxing and inspiring. I loved wandering around the Long Corridor with the spring blossoms and blue skies,” said documentary filmmaker Dara Kell of Africa, who won the Best Humanitarian Vision Award.
The next and final stop on the tour was Olympic Park, where delegates saw the lights coming on at dusk on the National Stadium and National Aquatic Centre – or as locals call it, the “Bird’s Nest” and the “Water Cube.” The Golden Panda delegates did not want the trip to end, asking if they could visit the Silk Market in the evening, or stay a while longer in the Olympic Park to soak in the night scene.
Filmmakers took a group photo in front of the Bird’s Nest
Dinner consisted of Beijing’s zhajiang or “fried sauce” noodles, served by a traditional Beijing restaurant once visited by former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Though delegates protested that they were “not hungry” and wanted to see some more of Beijing before they left, the piping bowl and savoury meat-and-beans sauce gave them an appetite possibly unmatched by any other meal on this trip.
Dinner also gave the travellers a chance to reflect on their experiences of cultural immersion in the last, jam-packed six days. Many of the Golden Panda delegates had found inspiration in China – Furman said he came up with an idea for a screenplay based on the cultural interactions he experienced in China, while artist Iris Moore of Canada, winner of the Best Animated Film Award, said she wants to go home and start incorporating what she has seen in China into to her art.
“I saw so many things being sold in the streets that I’d like to try to make, like the clay figurines we saw in the street or shadow puppets in  Arts District made out of leather,” Moore said. “There are so many mediums and styles to explore.”
“It was inspiring to see how great works like the Great Wall of China were built so long ago, and also to see the evolution of Chinese culture over hundreds and thousands of years,” said Kell. “Seeing the high level of craftsmanship of Chinese artisans and architects, like the Bird’s Nest Stadium, just made me excited to create.”
As for whether they would return to China, they each said absolutely would, and as soon as they can.
Sandy You (middle) spoke during dinner
- Editor:Albert | Source: CNTVNA
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