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In competition: "Spring Fever" of Lou Ye

About the film

Chinese director has braved a ban on his filmmaking imposed by censors in his own country to make Spring Fever. The feature, which screens In Competition today at Cannes, is the story of a torrid passion within a threesome composed of two men and a beautiful woman. The subject, still highly taboo in Asia, if not elsewhere, was a considerable obstacle to obtaining financing, according to the director, the veteran of two Palme d'Or Competitions, with Purple Butterfly in 2003 and Summer Palace in 2006.

"I started working on the screenplay for Spring Fever as soon as I'd finished Summer Palace, and was immediately confronted with a certain hesitancy, let's say, on the part of the producers. Since I'd been "banished," prohibited from directing for five years, why finance my new film, which they wouldn't even be able to show in Chinese theaters? They all said, "Let's schedule a meeting in five years!" Thankfully, in the end, we were able to secure all the necessary funding through the French film financing system and partly from Hong Kong."

Not only has Lou Ye been present in Cannes with previous films, but he also participated in the Cinefondation Atelier last year, an initiative created in 2005 by the Cannes Festival with the intention of assisting filmmakers in completing their financing, to speed up the completion of their projects.

 

Press conference

Press Conference: 'Spring Fever'

Meeting the press to answer questions about his latest feature, Spring Fever, which is screening in Competition, Chinese director Lou Ye was accompanied by actors Tan Zhuo, Chen Sicheng, Qin Hao, and Wu Wei. A number of political and social issues were discussed: for example, the censorship he faces in China, and the fact that his latest film deals with a subject which is taboo there, male homosexuality.

Lou Ye, regarding the ban on his work in China:
My answer is very simple: as a director, I make films, and so I continued doing my job as usual. I don't really want to say too much more about this ban. I prefer to talk about the film itself. However, I would like to add two things concerning this ban: first of all, I would like for my producer, Nai An, to be able to continue working in the film industry; and secondly, I'd like to see this type of censorship, forbidding a director or actor from making a film in his own country, disappear. I hope that I will be the last director in China to be banned in this way. I hope that all the young Chinese filmmakers will be able to make films freely.

Regarding the controversy around the choice of the theme of homosexuality:
I didn't film homosexuality that much. I showed all kinds of complex relationships: I showed feelings, I showed love. I think it was when I was filming, and when I was evaluating these complex relationships, that I was able to give a kind of coloring to the world… It doesn't matter whether these love scenes are homosexual or heterosexual. I shot them in exactly the same way. Sex is very important in life. And I didn't want to highlight that side of things – I didn't want to talk about it too much. But it is part of the story. It's all integrated into the story.

About his cast:
I chose the actors who suited the story and the script. Whether or not they were famous was not a consideration for me when I was casting them. I'm lucky to have had an opportunity to work with such excellent actors. I thank them very much… The actors were very free, but the whole crew around them had lots of constraints in order to allow the actors to be free. The crew had a really hard time.

On having made the film, which is based on a novel by Yu Dafu, secretly:
First of all, the fact that we made this film in a clandestine way – I always shoot this way, whatever the film. Why? Well, I try to focus on the film, and not on interviews and the media, and so on. This has always been a very effective way of working; my films have benefited from this. And this once again gave a very good result. Concerning Yu Dafu: in his novels, he deals with individuals, and their individual feelings. In the film, too, this is the theme I wanted to touch on. This is a tradition, and that's what I wanted to emphasize, this tradition of individual feelings.

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