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Interview Clement Cheng on Gallants
Movies are entertainment 1/1 - Page 9
Author(s) : Thomas Podvin
Date : 1/6/2011
Type(s) : Interview
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Page 8 : Animation sequences and Andy Lau
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Page 10 : Working in China

Masterclass: It's interesting that you come from a double culture: Canadian and Chinese. Where do you see your strength in this respect?
Clement Cheng: I am a Canadian filmmaker in a way, and I make Chinese films. I don't know where my strength is. I am a very good moviegoer. I love movies. I always see myself as an audience member when I am making a movie. What do I like? What would make me happy, what I think is cool, what makes me cry, what moves me? There is no particular way of doing things, it's just who you are. You cannot make a movie that will please anybody. There is only one person in the whole world who can do that: he's called James Cameron. He's not from this world. You just have to do things your own way, the things that you believe in. I've always compared moviemaking to eating. When you share the experience with your friends, the enjoyment is complete. You don't really enjoy it by yourself. Making movies is about sharing. Sometimes, everybody has different tastes.

Clement Cheng in London at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival (photo by HKCinemagic.com)


Do you know what a durian is? It is a smelly East Asian fruit that smells like shit, or cheese. I love it. It's considered the king of fruits. But there are many people who don't like it, even though I love it. You cannot force people to like what you like. But you know what you are capable of, and do what you believe in. You just can't please everybody, so first of all you have to please yourself. And think, “Is this something that I want to watch, and is it amusing?” Above everything, a movie is entertainment. Everything else is beneath the entertainment. If there is a message that you want to get across, that's good, but do it in an entertaining way. The process of sharing is complete when most people enjoy your film as they are watching it. Then you've done your job. I don't care if it makes you cry or makes you laugh or get excited. That's entertainment and I think nothing is above that.

Right now, the biggest film industry is Hollywood because it's about entertainment. The whole world enjoys their films. Well, not all the films, but most of them. You can really enjoy watching them even though you don't care about the plot, even though it's not saying anything. But what if a movie is entertaining AND has something to say? That would be good, right?

I am not against art-house movies, they have their place. People like them. I watch some of them. But when the general public wants to have a good time, it's what I said: it's entertainment.

Q&A: Has Gallants been shown all around the world, and what is the reception to it?
Clement Cheng: The reception is generally pretty good. It hasn't shown in South America and Africa. It hasn't been in the big festivals like Berlin, Cannes. It's too much of a genre film for them, I guess. In general, it was pretty well received and I feel very fortunate about that.
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