Estimated running time 12 min
Dialogue in English and Mandarin
Shot on location in Shanghai on RED at 4K
Eva, a young European woman, works in an architecture firm in Shanghai. Intimidated by the scale of demolition, construction and wholesale change around her, and not at home among other foreigners who swoop down on this land of opportunity, she goes exploring the city alone with her camera, trying to make her peace with the new buildings that seem to grow overnight like silvery giants crushing the old world underfoot.
In a wasteland far from the city center she meets a Chinese man, Wang Weiqiang, an artist, whose paintings seem subtler than those Eva sees all around her in the booming Chinese contemporary art market. Wang seems more like her, understanding quickly that she is afraid of the future. He takes her to what remains of the old town, reassuring her that not everything will disappear; and, in his studio, he encourages her to paint. Submerged in what she believes to be the real China, Eva finds a friend.
But after their one day together, Wang disappears. Eva cannot find him at his studio, nor at his gallery; his paintings have gone; it is almost as if he had never existed. Resigned to return to the Western circle she had been happy to leave behind, Eva enters a very glamorous bar on the Bund – and sees Wang Weiqiang among them, slickly dressed and surrounded by adulating Westerners like a great star.
Wang is not at all what he seemed to Eva. But did he lie to her or is he simply smarter than she, adapting to the modern world? Alone on the bar’s balcony, looking out over the iconic PuDong skyline, Eva realizes that she must change.
Years later, a well-dressed Chinese man, bearing all the marks of success, passes a small art gallery in the Old World. Inside, there are paintings in vivid colours, carrying hints of both Wang’s and Eva’s first paintings, a mixture of tradition and modernity, Asian in a sense, but resolutely contemporary. On the window are the name of the artist, EVA NOUI, and the title of the show, CHINESE DREAMS. The Chinese man stops – smiles a smile we seem to recognise – and goes in.