Zhou Lidong was born in Shandong Province in 1964 and after many years working several jobs he eventually started his own business. His experiences as a business owner inspired his debut feature “The Fall” which has had its North American premiere at Mulan International Film Festival 2019.

We sat down with the director to talk about his inspirations for the “The Fall”, the challenges he had to face as a first time director and the audience’s reaction to the film.

The Fall” screened at Mulan International Film Festival

In your life you have made a transition from working in coal mines and later working as a translator to now being a director. Can you take us through the steps which made you eventually decide to become a director?

I have always loved the language of film and subconsciously had the dream of making a film. After being the owner of a business for many years, the dream emerged to the surface. That is why I made “The Fall”.

Can you explain the meaning of the title of your film, maybe also with regards to the first question?

“The Fall” refers to both the season of fall and the action of falling down. If you count 20 years as a season in the life span, then the age of our protagonist happens to fit into the fall season.

“The Fall“ deals with the changes within the Chinese economy and how business owners, like yourself at the time, dealt with them. In your mind, what were (or are) the most important changes and how did they influence the story of the film?

It was the sense of powerlessness, of life, of family, and career which drove the film’s story.

Since “The Fall” is based on your own experiences as a small business owner, how much of the character you play in the film is actually based on yourself? Are the other characters in the film based on people you have encountered?

Most parts are based on personal experience.

In what ways does the film discuss a person’s powerlessness with regards to insurmountable odds? Does your character feels powerless?

I hope to share the experience with the audience when I made the film. Let’s leave it to the audience to decide.

Can you tell us something about your experiences directing your first film? What were some of the obstacles you had to overcome in that new profession?

Being the director and the main actor was the most difficult task for me.

What was your approach in terms of visuals when collaborating with cinematographer Lin Yutang? How did you want the film to look?

I had watched several films with the cinematographer before we started shooting the film. I was hoping he could find a visual style for the film which would be realistic and believable.

Up to this point, how did audiences react to “The Fall”, especially in your home country?

“The Fall” has participated in several film festivals and won some awards. I am quite satisfied with the feedback from the audience abroad and in China.

Now that you have taken your first steps at directing, can you tell us something about your future in the film business? Are you working on a project and can you tell us something about it?

I am preparing the next feature film. It is about white-collar people in a company. I plan to start filming in winter and hopefully the audience can watch it in the next year.

Thank you for your interview. Wish you all the best!

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Ever since I watched Takeshi Kitano's "Hana-Bi" for the first time (and many times after that) I have been a cinephile. While much can be said about the technical aspects of film, coming from a small town in Germany, I cherish the notion of art showing its audience something which one does normally avoid, neglect or is unable to see for many different reasons. Often the stories told in films have helped me understand, discover and connect to something new which is a concept I would like to convey in the way I talk and write about films. Thus, I try to include some info on the background of each film as well as a short analysis (without spoilers, of course), an approach which should reflect the context of a work of art no matter what genre, director or cast. In the end, I hope to pass on my joy of watching film and talking about it.