Under a Different Sky : a cinematic exploration of the less travelled China.
China is large in terms of geographical area. Its primary culture and numerous ethnic sub-cultures co-exist by virtue of the massive population enclosed by the country's long borders that have, over millennia, been incrementally lengthened by imperial conquests. Before making this film I had always thought of Chinese culture as being about as far removed from ours as is possible to imagine.
The 1960s and 1970s were marked by waves of aggressive political and social activism throughout the world: witness the 1968 riots in Paris and civil unrest in the US. One signifier of this new activism was Jane Fonda’s visit to Hanoi in 1972 in an attempt to bring an awareness about the people on the other side in the Vietnam war. Similarly, but in an action that resulted in far less outrage than Fonda’s visit to North Vietnam, Shirley McLaine was invited by Mao Zedong to visit China in 1973 to make a film. The aim was to bring an awareness about daily life in China, and especially the life of Chinese women. The film that was written and produced by Shirley McLaine, and filmed and edited by Claudia Weill, was called “The Other Half of the Sky”. They chose this title because the phrase was originally from a Chinese proverb and had been subsequently used by Mao in his writings.
All of these things were on my mind and suggested to me that China existed under a sky that was, metaphorically speaking, somehow different from ours.
The film "Under a Different Sky” juxtaposes the new China of the 21st century, with its iPhone factories and maglev train, with the old and somewhat romantic view of China that I had before my trip. The film arranges images of urban and rural China in apposition to reveal the wide differences in lifestyle that exist within the country, and the differences that exist between the Chinese and ourselves. The film is not arranged in the strict order of the places visited during my tour of China - instead, new and old, rural and urban, are dovetailed and juxtaposed in order to highlight and contrast these differences.
My goal was to make a film that offers a sympathetic view of the Chinese people.
Filmed in China over a 4 week period in September and October 2013 using a Sony NEX-FS100. Edited using FCP 7. Color graded using Red Giant's Colorista and Magic Bullet Looks. Music by Michael Stearns, Kevin Shields, Robert Rich, He Shuying, Pooja Pao Lee and Thomas Oliver.
I hope that you enjoy “Under a Different Sky”.