A Simple Life premieres in Venice

68th Venice Film Festival is currently ongoing, there are two Hong Kong films competing which are Andy Lau’s A Simple Life and Lau Ching Wan’s Life Without Principle. Two nights ago, the two groups set off to Venice respectively. When talked about the two films competing, Andy expressed that he is delighted and does not feel any competition.

When Andy set off to Venice two nights ago, several (around 20) fans went to the airport to send him off. When asked how he felt, a relaxed Andy expressed: “I’m not nervous, did not have any preparation before setting off, of course I had confidence, hope that I’ll stand a chance.” After attending the film festival, Andy will return to Hong Kong for work and not stay there for shopping.

When talked about Lau Ching Wan’s Life Without Principle also competing in the festival, a delighted Andy said: “Delighted that there will be two Hong Kong films being nominated. (However Chinese films will be edited to shorten the screening time?) The screening time is around two hours, which is about the screen time of my film.”

The official press conference of A Simple Life was held at Venice yesterday, upon touching down, Andy immediately met up with Deanie Ip, Ann Hui and Qin Hailu to attend the event. When walking down the red carpet, Andy showed off the charisma of an international superstar as he communicate with international reporters using fluent English. As Andy was at last year’s festival for Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, thus several approached him for autographs and welcome him back to the festival, he even shouted out: “I’m back!”. He quipped: “I used a lot of money to shoot this film, initially thought of contributing to an art film, never expected that art is so kind, after shooting found out that it’s a different thing, I began to show more concern to people around me, simple things became important.” After saying these, the reporters immediately applause. When asked if he faced any difficulties during shooting, he said: “I’m feel lucky as the character I played is still alive so that he could relive the life of Tao Jie.”

During the press conference, Ann Hui introduce A Simple Life as a true life story adapted of film producer Roger Lee Yan-Lam of Once Upon a Time in China and A Chinese Ghost Story fame. In the film, the Tao Jie character played by Deanie Ip had worked in the Leung family for 60 years, after being sent to a nursing home, she and young master Leung has a special relationship. Ann Hui exclaimed that she felt close after reading the script thus she invited Andy, Deanie, Wang Fuli, Yu Wenshi and Qin Hailu to join the cast. “I always wanted to shoot a film to commemorate the life of our generation, looked into the difference of current and traditional human relationships.”

However Ann faced difficulties when looking for investors for the film and finally found Andy to invest thus she thanked Andy twice during the press conference. She said: “I really had to thanks Andy. Two years ago, I wanted to do something that I never did before, A Simple Life’s script is something that I had been looking for, but such script will not get much interest from investors. I tried raising money everywhere, when I showed the script to Andy, he didn’t say much before agreeing. Seriously said, without Andy’s money, I’m unable to shoot this film, thus I had to thanks Andy again!” Ann expressed that she had to thanks Tsui Hark, Sumo Hung and Bona Film Group Limited’s boss Yu Dong for giving their virgin silver screen appearance to her.

With regards to Ann’s thanks, Andy talked about why did he invested: “She told me that: “It’s been a long time that I had enough money, can you help me?” This sentence touched me, I also felt sad for her. When you shoot a film, many people will be asking why you shot the film, but to me, I feel that I’m being moved by the action of a person and the script.” This film displayed the attitude of today’s children towards their maids which Andy sighed: “Maids are also human, correct? Why I took care of Tao Jie in the film, because she had took care of me since young, looked after you when you’re sick, support you, built up a relationship, if we forget such relationship, life will be meaningless. This film is not so heavy, just a simple touching film.”

Andy whom invested HK$30 million in A Simple Life, when reporters asked why he’s willing to spend HK$30 million and support his film, Andy replied in English: “Because I wanted to spend money to make myself the male lead!” With regards to allegation that Andy hoped to win award with this film, he quipped: “Actresses can win awards easily with Ann Hui’s films, actors can forget about it!”

With regards to A Simple Life, many media felt that after watching the film, there is not much ups and downs and not self centered for the life of Tao Jie, as she just took care of the three meals of “young master”, she fall sick when she’s old and was sent to a nursing home where nobody took care of her. The drama could be considered as plain, but Ann Hui’s make used of humanity, lifestyle and the life and death in the nursing home to move the audience. In addition, the film started off with Andy’s “young master”, he found out after Tao Jie fall sick, “With her taking care of the family, I would not feel any difficulties, without her then I knew how tough it had been for her, with death coming soon, the candles had melted and tears had dried up.” The communication between the two are the selling point of the film.

After the film’s premiere, from the media and audience reaction, it can be considered as successful as many reporters teared and there were two rounds of applause lasting 8 minutes after the screening with the audience standing up. However, some reporters feedback that the film is a a bit overboard and the film being too slow resulting to some media making an early exit.

A foreign reporter broke down after watching Tao Jie’s death, when interviewed she expressed that she had similar experience when she’s young, thus she clearly understand the story of master-housemaid relationship. Ann Hui expressed that she really wanted to shoot realistic films, many people had shot love stories films but few concentrated on elderly, actually these are fresh themes in local and foreign films, with the world facing the ageing problem, this issue is shared among all, audience everywhere could experience it. She added: “Most importantly is that I’m also old, started to think about ageing, how to face the problem, this story gave me a chance to investigate and played out my thinking.”

In addition, media from Mainland China were impressed with Deanie for her return to the silver screen after 10 years, Deanie expressed that it’s a “blessing” to be able to shoot this film. Ann revealed that it was film producer Roger Lee Yan-Lam’s suggestion of casting Deanie, she said: “Initially I was hesitate as she is much younger than the character’s age, from shooting till now, I felt that her chemistry and feel with Andy is great. She looked the role.”

Deanie said that when she went to the nursing home to take reference for her character, she had many interactions, “I saw many elderly’s sufferings, but they wanted to continue living, what sort of feeling is that? Maybe Tao Jie thought of it too.” She added: “Because I’m also old, thus have a strong feeling, I can feel the loneliness of Tao Jie. After shooting this film, I’m prepared which path I shall take, I’ve decided to donate all useful things to others, I also don’t wish fall seriously sick and die, I hope to have a peaceful death!”

When compared to Deanie, Andy had a normal performance, as he seldom being cast in art films, he exclaimed: “I have a lot of feelings for this film, at the beginning felt that this is an art film, as shooting goes on, I feel that the boundaries of art film had been narrowed. Actually art film is a very personal thing, I think it’s good but not everybody will think likewise. I feel that whether the film will touch people is the important factor.”

news and photos from: Metro Daily, yule.sohu.com, Macao Daily, Apple Daily, Headline Daily, Sing Tao News, Ming Pao, movie.runsky.com