Recently, Ili River, the film produced locally in Xinjiang has won several awards. At the end of 2013, it was nominated “the Best Motion Picture” at the 1st Annual Zhejiang Province Youth Film Festival, and later it was nominated by Beijing International Film Festival that is about to be opened in this March. The film was also shown on UMFF in Los Angeles this April. Now Huaxia Film Distribution Co., Ltd. is planning to show the film in all the cinemas of China this May.
The producer of Ili River is Su Erdong, the popular local musician of Xinjiang.
More than ten years ago, Su Erdong, as a versatile and creative singer of modern Hui “hua’er” music, released his album The Pomegranate Flower. Since Su Erdong’s family has a tradition of singing “hua’er” songs , Su has always been fond of singing and made it big singing Hua’er songs. He graduated from college in 1990 and released an album in Uyghur, Blessings from Afar. He then sponsored the National Hui Singers’ Composition Concert. In 2004, he had a concert in The Great Hall of People of Xinjiang, called “Dedicate the Most Beautiful Flowers to the Communist Party of China.” For the past decade, Su has become a successful performer and successor of Hui pop music to all the Xinjiang people.
On the 20th Febraury, when we met Su, he was dressed in formal suit and wearing a pair glasses, looking very gentle. He hadn’t changed that much in all these ten years. To date, working as a musician, producer, and film producer is just his bywork.” His “official” identity is that of a teacher in the Food Processing Department of Xinjiang Grain College.
According to Su, making a film has more to it than just a mere rush of blood to the head. According to Su, except for the two films Ma Benzhai and the Detachment of Hui People he once watched when he was a kid, there has been no movie which adequately depicts the life of Hui people in the new era of modern China. 2011 was the year when he had the first connection with film industry. He then invested one million yuan in a TV film A Thousand Miles of Songs. He says that it was the first film ever that reveals the life of modern Hui people. Many music tracks in this film were composed by him. The audience would not only see the original life style of Hui people but could also enjoy the original Hui music. Being the prototype of the protagonist of the film, Su chose his hometown Xinyuan County of Ili as the filming location. The film is about the life of a Hui singer who was raised by the meadow. As the “first film ever in China’s history that depicts Hui people’s life,” the film with its gorgeous Ili sceneries, scenes of red flower sea of Zhaosu grasslands, running horses, friendly herdsman, and fourteen original songs composed by Su himself, managed to attract the attention of CCTV-6. The channel bought its rights to screen and showed the movie on the 16th June of that year,and received critical acclaim.
In May, 2011, the famous Chinese film director Wang Jingguang went to Ili to shoot some scenes. The beautiful landscape of Ili sync in well with the theme of Wang’s script A River Telling Non Lies. After a series of adaptation to the original work of Wang’s script, Wang decided to collaborate with Su and named their new film Ili River.
The land nourished by the Ili River has abundant water resource, and like all the mother rivers, it bears our pain and joy. What inspired the film Ili River at the beginning is this profound love for the motherland. The film is about a mother and her love for her children. All the twenty years has enriched the film with history and life experience. Su said, “I grew up in Ili, and I’m very familiar with many of the scenes in this film. Great changes have taken place in Ili in recent years. This film is to show all these changes, and one can see it from the way the protagonists cross the river. At first, they ride horses, and then they ride motorbikes after which they use motor boats. From beep call to the first mobile phone, and from buses to trains and planes…no matter whether it’s the communication tools or the transportation tools, the movie captures the change that is going on these years in Ili.”
The total investment of the film is 6.8 million yuan. The 108 minute long film covers a period of more than twenty years. And its filming locations extend from Qiaxi grassland of Gongliu County to Yining City, Urumqi, and Shanghai.
Wang Jingguang is the playwright and director of the film whereas Wang Lan, a famous Chinese actress, and Huerxide Tu’erdi play the leading roles. Another, famous Chinese actor Chen Jianbin is the art director of this film. The film is filled with strong and rich Xinjiang culture, as can be seen in its scenes, characters, plot, and music. After shooting all the scenes, Su spent three months during which he took the film to Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia, and Xi’an to show it to experts from all walks of life and asked them for advice. To date, Xinjiang Su’erdong Culture and Media Co., Ltd. has signed contracts with the digital cinema lines of the suburb area of China. It has also made contracts with China Film Group Corporation, who is in charge of the promotion of the film in overseas areas. In order to promote the film, the company decided to release its VCD and organize an artistic show in the People’s Great Hall of Xinjiang. The movie is going to be released in cinemas this May.
Su’s next film Halabula’s Story (project name) is based on the story of his own grandfather. is the movie is about the legendary stories of that generation’s immigration from South Soviet Union to Xinjiang. “My grandma is Kirghiz, and I spoke Kazahk since I was a child. I learnt to speak Uyghur later and Chinese when I got to Urumqi. Many people around me have similar experiences and in my opinion, this is quite natural for all cultures. This is the way we are and no one is pretending to be anything than who they are. This is the information that I’m going to send through this film.”
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