Question and Answer Session 2 “The Boar King”

Focus on Asia International Film Festival Fukuoka 2014
Question and Answer Session (September, 2014)
Featuring: Film Director Chen-Ti Kuo
Actress Yi-Ching Lu
Actress I-Ting Wu
Film: “The Boar King”  (2013/Taiwan)

L to R: Chen-Ti Kuo, Yi-Ching Lu, I-Ting Wu

Q:The film was like solving a mystery of what happened to the father who went missing during the typhoon, by piecing together the home video footage in the motion picture with the rest of the film. I first want to thank you for making such a wonderful motion picture. The scene with the Chinese plum trees impressed me. In Japan, they blossom at the beginning of spring in February, but the film showed them blossoming during the winter. Also, the plum tree flowers were put afloat in the hot spring water in August. Now, when do these trees really blossom in Taiwan?

Film Director Chen-Ti Kuo: They blossom more or less towards the end of December. We shot the film just as we were preparing for the New Year. My direction impressed upon these trees to bring back memories of time spent with the father who died. I also gave these trees a spirit of encouragement, of going forward in life as best as you can in spite of disaster (such as a typhoon). I heard that after the typhoon struck in August, 2008, a dry spell of no rain lasted for a long time and that the fragrance of the plum flowers which blossomed in December were much stronger compared to the normal season. The villagers were saying “the plum trees must have been shocked at all the water damage to blossom so intensely.”

Q: The typhoon was big news in Japan as well. Was one village completely destroyed? I saw a news story that said the President of Taiwan didn’t visit the area for a long time, but how is the recovery coming along?

Film Director Chen-Ti Kuo: We did our film location in a village in the south where the typhoon claimed the lives of 28 people. The film location took place in November and December of 2012, but as you can see in the film, there were still heaps of soil and nothing had been done about it. At this stage, half of the villagers moved to the foot of the mountain. The village, which had a hot springs inn, had many making a living out of tourism. After the typhoon, however, those who remained in the village began making ecologically conscious hand-made artifacts and are doing their best now to coexist with nature. They’re now into ecological tourism, offering the young the chance to study the ecosystem and making available opportunities to experience life, which co-exist with nature. Everyone in the village is doing the best they can. In the film, there is a cloth dyeing scene and this also is a new form of handicraft the villagers created. I felt that regenerating a destroyed village is an incredibly difficult task to accomplish.

Q: During the first half, the film is in black and white and in the second half, in color. I found this very beautiful. There is a scene where the female protagonist puts flower petals from the Chinese plum blossom into a jar, which I think is meant for some kind of liquor, and holds the jar up towards the sun. I thought that was a very impressive scene. In Japan, we don’t have such liquor, but what sort of a drink is this?

Film Director Chen-Ti Kuo: The farmers who grow Chinese plum trees cut off the flowers, which are then put inside liquor to make Chinese plum flower liquor. They soak the flower petals in the liquor for about three months, don’t they?

Actresses Yi-Ching Lu: I know nothing about this. I did play the role of putting the flowers in the liquor, but I’ve never tasted the drink.

Actress I-Ting Wu: Those who live up in the mountains seem to make a lot of these flower based liquor. Why not try it with cherry blossoms in Japan?

Q: There’s a scene where a man working to develop the area is disappointed after talking to an old villager. What was that about?

Film Director Chen-Ti Kuo:  The man was trying to turn the village into a resort. In that scene he tries to buy the old villager’s land. The man misjudged the old villager to be senile enough to sell his land. In the end, though, the man ends up being duped by the old villager not the other way around.

Q: How did you two actresses feel when you got your parts?

Actress Yi-Ching Lu: I went to the actual village and met with the woman my role was based on. She had lost her husband to the typhoon. On the eve of the typhoon, she had an argument with him and he just left the house. Thereafter, the woman started to suffer from psychotic depression. I asked her straight forwardly how she felt then, and she gave me her answers.

Film Director Chen-Ti Kuo:  When I interviewed her, she didn’t shed even a tear in front of the camera. Yet I heard she just couldn’t stop from crying that evening. I have the task of rolling the camera and conducting research as one documentary filmmaker so I’m not in the same position or situation as Ms. Yi-Chang Lu here. When she talked to the woman, Ms. Lu managed to bring out the woman’s emotions that lay deep inside of her, which exploded. Perhaps this was because Ms. Lu threw her questions at her straight forwardly as a human being, a woman and an actress. I suppose the woman opened up to Ms. Lu, for which I thank her.

Actress Yi-Ching Lu: I felt you (the film director) were into the character of Cho, who I played.

Film Director Chen-Ti Kuo: No, you’re wrong about that. You have the exact personality as the character role you played. A charming woman who has both her husband and her friend Nan in the palm of her hands (chuckle). Only you (Yi-Ching Lu) could have played that role (chuckle). Towards the end, there’s a scene where Cho and Nan kid around on a motorcycle and eventually fall. I personally love that scene. It was beautiful and looked natural. I gave an OK on the very first take. And I think that was possible also because you (Yi-Ching Lu) acted so naturally.

Actress Yi-Ching Lu: In the first place, I can’t drive a motorcycle so it wasn’t a case of me acting naturally. It just happened that way (chuckle). I got on the motorcycle and it just kept going forward. It was out of my control. So in the end, I just jumped off the motorcycle, which resulted in the motorcycle being knocked down (chuckle).

Actress I-Ting Wu: I mostly live in Taipei so I knew how big the typhoon damage was through the news reports. Afterwards, I went and stayed at the village for about 2-3 month interviewing the villagers. I was then very surprised to know that even after a considerable amount of time, there was no headway with regard to the recovery effort. The role of A-Fen, who I played, is a woman but this character was based on a man. Apparently he was staying in Australia, but rushed back after hearing about the typhoon in the news. I was worried while listening to his account of him searching for his father that this might somehow bring his mental trauma out into the open. But he talked to me with a lot of courage and told me he would go on with his life the best he could. I feel that this experience and the opportunity of engraving the thoughts and memories of so many people in my mind was really good for my acting career. And so I prepared for my role trying to come as close to how this man really felt. My grandmother lives in Ibaraki Prefecture in Japan so I was really worried and felt very saddened when the Great East Japan Earthquake hit. I couldn’t travel to Japan so I made contact by phone. People go through a lot in life. In spite of all this, I felt through my acting in this film, that I ‘d like to live as much of a happy and fulfilling life as possible.

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