Jiuxun Jin talks about ‘Ashes’

What inspired you to make Ashes?

It was the first time I visit Virginia to see my sister and brother, everything was new and fun for me as an international student who was studying aboard; in their house, I met Albert, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) veteran, his strong personality made me wanted to know more about his story. After a few hours talk, I found that what he told me was more than a “war story”.

When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

It’s hard to say exactly when, but I kept renting movies when I was a kid, then I shoot videos and stop motion shorts with my Nokia 6300, and edited them together. In 2009, I went to art school and study at the Digital Media Art department. During that period, I had many times to spend with lens-based equipment and got plentiful time to do media art practice. Upon graduation, I worked with many crews from local TV stations and other media production teams. Finally, I got the idea that maybe filmmaking will suit me well.


What was your first film project and how did it go?

I’ve been worked on my short film projects for many years, and most of them are experimental. Showing them in art galleries and festivals around the world did give me a lot of confidence and fun. However, I don't consider my short films as the “films” that people want to watch. So, “Ashes” is my first feature-length film, and of course, it's not a “good film” made by one person. It is more like an experimental storytelling piece. During the editing process, I was lacking of visual elements but rich in interview files, so I used many moving images and computer imaging to finish the film. Therefore, the final work feels in-between the experimental documentary film and essay film.

Please name three of your most favorite directors?

No, Marie-Georges-Jean Méliès, Andrei Arsenyevich Tarkovsky, Terry Gilliam, Ernst Ingmar Bergman, Jan Švankmajer, Dziga Vertov, Jiang Wen, Akira Kurosawa……


What genre of filmmaking do you like to work on?

There is no genre I don’t want to work with, to be honest. But recently I am more focused on sci-fi, comedy, and Drama.


What is the most challenging aspect of making a film for you?

“One man film crew” is not that cool at all. I work alone doesn't mean I don’t like to work with others. I do hope I can have a great team full of fun people, and it will more effective and creative than finish a project by myself.


What is your plan for the distribution of Ashes?

It would be great if this film can be distributed soon, but I don’t have any plans yet. I Will work on it in the near future.


How can cinema and films such as Ashes change the world and have an impact on society?

From my perspective, one man can’t stop a war, and one man can’t stop people from hating each other. The only thing I can do is to be better of myself, care and help people who I can reach. I can wish every goodhearted person is super “contagious” because the power to change the world will not come from a single person, it comes from “us”.

What is your next film project?

I am currently working on a story of my grandpa, it is about WWII in Asia.


Why do you make films?

I think filmmaking is a better way to express myself and convey ideas through the time-based media. It has some sort of curative effect for me, and I am having fun. Besides, I believe the imagination of the film itself is way bigger than its filmmaker’s.


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© Toronto Film Mag I 2020