Siyuan Zeng Talks About Invisible Man In the Mist


Reshape the unknown reality with movies

In 2016, by chance, I got a learning activity of Qiang culture. When I knew the news, I searched my mind for my impression of Qiang people. Mongolian people are called "the nation on horseback", while Qiang people are called "people living in clouds". So my first impression of Qiang people is romance and mystery.


Just entered the territory of Wenchuan, the surrounding mountains like guards with knives, layer by layer. Nature's axe cuts the shape of the mountain into sharp edges. The Yin and Yang sides of the mountain range are clear, and the ridge lines are sharp. The primitive and boundless breath of the mountain peak makes me feel more respectful. I began to imagine that a group of people were hunting wild animals in the mountains, which was very much like the opening hunting scene in Kurosawa's film Ran.


The car in the gully, a mountain from far to near rush to us, after receiving our respect, then quickly left. Whenever a mountain peak comes, bursts of praise and emotion come from the car. As soon as the mountain passes, the whole vehicle returns to the dreary atmosphere. Only the roar of the car engine when climbing the slope is heard.


Gradually, this became a kind of people to break the dull tacit understanding, more like a kind of convention and express emotion Carnival moment. Perhaps this kind of moment is the same as the ancient people chanting poems and inscriptions. It's just that we take pictures with cameras and post them on social networks to express awe. Because in modern people's opinion, being able to access his social network certainly represents your status in his heart, which is worth recommending to friends!


But after a while, I gradually lost interest in the mountains. My eyes were attracted by the unique architecture of Qiang Nationality in the mountains. At the foot of the mountain or on the hillside, you can see a few scattered houses. Some houses are in disrepair for a long time. In front of some houses, people are driving sheep into the mountains. Some houses are painted new. The houses are all made of cement of modern buildings, and the walls are painted with national totems. This kind of symbol seems to remind people that the buildings here still keep the final adherence to the original temperament. In my opinion, it's like biological evolution, which has not yet taken shape, and still retains the legacy of ancestors. At present, it seems magical and novel. And the roar of the car forward, the house disappeared in the mountains, I have a sense of loss.


This reminds me of many years ago, when I was on a ferry in Chongqing, I watched the houses on both sides of the river like honeycomb, people drying clothes in the distance and carrying goods by the ferry. Their life is so hot, so real. But I feel that the distance between me and them is more than just a river. But there is no chance of intersection, so the heart will not have expectations to integrate into their world. To travel is to miss between different sceneries. It is because of constant change that we have a sense of freshness. Isn't that why tourism can bring us freshness?

(Preparation before sacrifice)

According to a statistical survey, it is said that people can meet 8 million people in their lifetime, 400000 people will say hello, and 3500 people can know and nearly 300 people are familiar with. Is he one of the 8 million people I have seen in my life?


Suddenly I realized that it was like my invisible life scale. When you meet 8 million people, it's the end of your life. Life is in a hurry. Some people leave wonderful stories in your life, while others pass by and even can't see the appearance clearly. I think I should do something to slow down my life?


After a long period of turbulence, we came to the Qiang valley. The huge door of Qiang watchtower is decorated with sheep's head bone. At the entrance is a group of Qiang people's sculptures. A group of Qiang Shibi are singing and dancing, praying for peace. Before entering the scenic area, the most powerful Qiang symbols Diaolou, sheep skull and Qiang Shibi are shown to us.


I can't help but sigh that the scenic spot really understands the rationality of modern people's understanding of time. In the shortest time, you can intuitively understand here. Then we followed the tour route. There is only one road in the village. The pavement is paved with smooth slate Road, which meanders to the mountainside.


Walking on the road are Backpackers, or a family of three, or an elderly group, or couples wearing pets on the winding road, looking for places different from the city, for a change of appetite for their eyes. Qiang people sit at the door, leisurely smoking a pipe, while selling the mountain collection of herbal products. There is a gap between tourists and Qiang people.


Although the two are so incompatible, but everything seems so natural. In the eyes of tourists, the Qiang people are a fleeting landscape, and in the eyes of the Qiang people, This state of life is an endless repetition day after day. In a hurry, they don't want to communicate. So who is speeding up the progress bar of whose life between the two?


Along the way, I saw with my own eyes the living goods, traditional clothes and totem architecture of the Qiang people, which was amazing by the extensive and profound culture of the ethnic minorities!


However, everything I can see seems to have been arranged carefully, which is far from my original yearning for the primitive simplicity of Qiang people.


Led by a local producer, we visited an old Shibi family. The ancient and simple courtyard is filled with mysterious atmosphere. The dark gray exterior wall is stacked with flake shale. It is said that this traditional building is very exquisite. It takes a period of time to deposit after stacking two meters Then continue to build. The gravity squeeze of rock is used to make the wall more compact. It doesn't need the blessing of modern architectural skills. Using this method, some Qiang watchtowers have been standing for more than 1000 years, which is the original power!

(traditional Qiang houses)

Shibi is the representative of "God" in Qiang people's hearts. He plays the role of wizard and leader with his "Superman" ability. His name is similar to "Shaman" in primitive religion. Shibi's religious activities have a long history, rich and colorful, magical and strange. Generally speaking, Shibi takes the fundamental interests of the people as the center to regulate the relationship among human, ghost and God.


Old Shibi lives with his wife and his little granddaughter lives at home during the summer vacation. In the direction of the entrance, there are memorial tablets for ancestor worship. The wall beside is full of photos of people who have participated in the sacrifice over the years. With his little granddaughter in his arms, Shibi enthusiastically introduced the contents of the photos to us, including photos of him and anthropologists, as well as photos of him performing in Beijing, Hong Kong and Japan. I was surprised by all this. Before I came, I thought he was just an elder practicing in the mountains. I didn't expect that he still had an international vision.

(the magic weapon of Shibi of Qiang nationality)

At our request, Lao Shibi showed us the magic tools he had used. The surface of the drum had been polished and polished. The animal head cap used for sacrifice was inlaid with cheetahs, wolf teeth, and other beasts. The divine wood stick has a statue of exquisite carving. The ritual utensils exude a strong mysterious atmosphere, and everything in front of me is in line with the illusion of Qiang people before I came here.


When I looked at the old photos carefully, I found that the old black-and-white photos were full of sacrificial teams, while the number of sacrificial teams in color photos was very few. Seeing the similarities and differences we found, Lao Shibi did not say anything. Instead, his face revealed a trace of loss. When talking about the inheritance of skills, the old man admitted that there are many rules for the inheritance of skills. Some of them can't learn by " The Chosen One" without qualification, Some skills can only be passed on to their own children, and some can't be taught until the inheritor has children. The inheritance of the skills of the clansmen has always been assessed by their talents. Nowadays, many young people go out to work or study, and almost only the elderly are left in the family.

(The director talks about the script for Shibi of Qiang Nationality)

Old Shibi's daughter married to Songpan, Sichuan Province, and her husband was a civil servant. My son majored in architecture. Now he is a civil construction engineer. He builds roads and bridges deep in the mountains. And the children's new house is also in the big city, summer vacation granddaughter back to the old couple here, to help them take care of.


It seems to be a coincidence that this kind of reverse running away. Just like we come here, we can excavate the culture of Qiang nationality and inherit it. But the real inheritors went to the city and created new things. This huge contrast has had an impact on me. I originally thought that Lao Shibi's children should stay at home, inherit the skills of their people, follow the life path of their ancestors, and plant this hot land.


So the feeling of experience is unreliable. My surprise comes from my lack of understanding, or from my not taking the initiative to know. On board, I think that I has nothing to do with the fishermen in the distance, I am interested it but immediately denies the predestined connection with the fishermen. Therefore, he loses the power to explore actively.

Qiang people have no written language, only language, but with the integration of modern society. Language will change, so will the soul of the nation. Shibi comes from the simple religious belief of Qiang nationality, so Shibi is the spiritual guide of Qiang nationality and carries national culture. Now the inheritance of Shibi is in jeopardy. How can the endogenous power of Qiang Nationality continue to develop? Or is there always culture buried in the torrent of history?


What wonderful chemical reactions will happen when young Qiang people integrate into the contemporary urban life? How do they identify with their own nation? Under the influence of different cultures, will the communication of family relations produce generation gap?


I have a strong interest in the change of national culture caused by the changes of the times.

So I wanted to make a film about Shibi of Qiang nationality. Use my movies to reshape the reality I don't know, because I can be more active. Only in this way can my life schedule go slower!

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© Toronto Film Mag I 2020