Friday, 10 July 2015

NZFF Q&A - Robin Greenberg, Return of the Free China Junk

NZFF Q&A - Robin Greenberg, Return of the Free China Junk

Tell us about your film at the film festival
I think Bill Gosden has summed up the film brilliantly by saying the following (you can take your pick!):
"A historic wooden sailing vessel that crossed the Pacific in 1955 makes an even more improbable return journey after the family of its original sailors campaign to save it from the scrapheap and bring it home.
The honoring of six young men who crossed the Pacific in 1955 becomes a mammoth challenge of engineering,  logistics and politics nearly sixty years later."

Tell us the best moment you had making this film
I loved every moment of being in Taiwan for filming (after 1 1/2 years of planning) -- and especially being a fly on the wall of the reunion of the octogenarian junk-mates in Taiwan after 57-years, including my Christchurch-based T'ai Chi teacher Loo-Chi Hu (Huloo).
Also, after months of attempted communications, finally receiving permission from the CIA for use of color archival footage was a high point for me -- and a great relief, as we'd fallen in love with that footage and wanted to include it to evoke the feeling of Taiwan in the mid 1950s.

Tell us the worst moment – and the one thing you left out of this film
When we brought the surviving junk-mates to the site where the junk-boat 'Free China' had originally departed in Keelung in 1955, it was an unpleasant surprise that our filming schedule had been leaked to media and the junk-mates were drowned by dozens of reporters, which pretty much destroyed the intimacy of the scene as conceived...  But with documentary, one literally has to go with the flow.

Tell us what this film means to you – and why people should see it.
I'm feeling too close to this film to answer this concisely... After three years of post-production, we've just completed the film, which  actually represents the culmination of about twelve years of fascination (obsession?) with the stories surrounding the Free China junk.  I feel that the film strikes an inspirational chord of cross-cultural and intergenerational collaboration and perseverance.  For audiences, who like me, are always in search of an upbeat story with heart, humor and insights into history and human potential this film may resonate.

Tell us one of the films you wish you were seeing at this year’s New Zealand International Film Festival?
I'm especially looking forward to colleague Costa Botes' 'Acts of Kindness' which has also been years in the making.  It's great to be able to celebrate the success of other local filmmakers. And amongst the global gems in NZIFF's programme, 'Rams' (dir. Grimur Hakonarson) is high on my list for the quirky humor/story.

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