Qingting zhi yan
Gateway | Dragons & Tigers
One of China’s greatest contemporary artists, Xu Bing, has made an extraordinary experimental-narrative first film. Fascinated with the pervasiveness of publicly available surveillance videos, Xu envisions our lives as a virtual panopticon of exhibitionist display and voyeuristic control. He devised a strictly defined, ingenious method to design a film: he used only clips of publicly available surveillance and dashcam footage that he and his studio assistants collected and categorized over two years of research. Xu and his team (editor Matthieu Laclau and screenwriter Zhai Yongming) have constructed a narrative fiction film without any actors, and without cinematographers. The screenplay followed the collection and design of visual material: voices were dubbed by professional actors.
Dragonfly Eyes is a love story of Qing Ting (aka "Dragonfly) and Ke Fan. She has left a monastery for a dairy farm; they end up on the run when he illicitly frees a cow to satisfy her desires. She works in a laundry and is insulted by a rich client, whom Ke Fan attacks. After years in jail, he emerges to discover she has disappeared, though he believes she’s turned into the Internet live-performance celebrity Xiao Xiao… Xu transforms the found footage into an uncannily convincing unified story, mixed with terrifying images of a perilously on-the-edge world, where landslides bury buildings and airplanes crash into roadways. There’s never been anything like it in cinema.
— Shelly Kraicer