First documentary film on Belt and Road to be released to a global audience

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 18, 2019
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Filmmakers, executives and guests for the documentary film, "Common Destiny", at a press conference held in Beijing on April 16, 2019. [Photo courtesy of Xiyou Media]

The world's first documentary film about the Belt and Road Initiative will show the vision of oriental wisdom to the global audience, said its producers in Beijing on Tuesday.

"Common Destiny," directed by Qu Jiangtao, Deng Fei, Ye Tian, Liu Chang, Wang Qiang and Meng Jiyuan, held its first press conference in China during the ongoing Beijing International Film Festival.

The film is an international joint effort by veteran filmmakers from many countries including China, Britain and the United States, which includes award-winning cinematographers Robin Cox and Matthew Norman. It tells the stories of ordinary people fighting for their dreams against difficulties and frustrations in the past six years across five continents. The film shows how their lives are affected by the Belt and Road Initiative.

As the film's scriptwriter, consultant and initiator, Tsinghua University professor Lei Jianjun said cultural diversity is the foundation of human existence. He added that "'Common Destiny' shows the differences among human beings on this blue planet with beautiful images while reflecting the similar efforts of different peoples to pursue their dreams and harmony."

According to the film's editor Zhu Lin, editing the movie was a very difficult task as she had compressed more than 300 hours of film into 5 complete stories. This included a story about a schoolgirl who wanted to become an artist, and who lived in an isolated village in Kenya, as well as a story about a retired papermaker who lived in the Spanish city of Cuenca and decided to travel to China to find out more about the origins of paper-making. Another interesting story was about a boy in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region who never gave up his dream, trained himself hard, and who finally met the Chinese basketball superstar Yao Ming. 

A poster of the documentary film "Common Destiny" [Image courtesy of Xiyou Media]

Zhu had to trim the edits down to 90 minutes while retaining the original storytelling style and keeping the emotional complexities that were embedded in the stories.

Famous scriptwriter Guy Hibbert, who worked on the film, sent a video message at the event saying the Belt and Road Initiative attracts worldwide attention. He said the project is inspiring, has the power to change the status quo, and promote new industrial development and extensive cooperation around the world. 

Yin Hong, vice chairman of the China Film Association and professor at Tsinghua University, who was invited to the event, said he believed the movie has a global vision. He added that it is an innovative art-house film and by using common people to play themselves, it uses fictional imagery to reenact real life and give audiences different spaces for interpretation.

"This is really an innovation in the film genre, and I hope it adds a warmer, more delicate, and more humane narrative to the grand theme of the Belt and Road Initiative, which can resonate more with everyone," Yin said. 

The film production lasted two years, and was filmed in locations in far flung parts of Asia, Africa, Europe and South America. Its filmmakers traveled about 300,000 kilometers in total and filmed the stories of different people in China, Spain, Chile, Jordan, Kazakhstan and Kenya. The film is produced by the Silk Road Media and Newtiming Television and Movie Investment Management, supported by the Beijing Film and Television Publishing and Creation Fund, with coordination by Doc China.

The film will be screened and broadcast in theaters and mainstream media outlets as well as various platforms in China and abroad, especially along the countries touched by the Belt and Road Initiative.

The cultural interaction among countries along the Belt and Road is one of the highlights of this year's Beijing International Film Festival. In the Beijing Film Panorama section of the film festival, a special "Belt and Road" segment was set up to showcase and build a bridge to facilitate cultural exchanges and communication between China and the rest of the world through film.

Directors Qu Jiangtao and Deng Fei share insights of the "Common Destiny" at a press conference held in Beijing on April 16, 2019. [Photo courtesy of Xiyou Media]

At the same time, the festival's opening film, "The Composer," co-produced by China and Kazakhstan, is the most distinguished film related to the Belt and Road Initiative. Its organizers said it represents an iconic moment in the history of China-Kazakhstan economic and trade cooperation. They also added that trade and cooperation in the film industry are carried out in sync with other investment projects under the Belt and Road Initiative. For instance, film cooperation also entails investment in the construction of high-speed railways and oil pipelines in countries along the Belt and Road as well as neighboring states. In addition, unique local and regional cultural features embodied in the movies also boost local tourism.

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