Filmed entirely on location in Shanghai, China, November 2011
Dialogue in English and Mandarin
Shot on RED at 4K
Eva, a young European woman, works at an architecture firm in Shanghai. Intimidated by the scale of demolition, construction and wholesale change in China, and not at home among the foreigners swooping down on this land of opportunity, she goes exploring the city alone with her camera, trying to make her peace with the new buildings springing up like mushrooms or an army of giants crushing history underfoot.
In a wasteland far from the centre of town she meets a Chinese artist, Wang Weiqiang, whose paintings seem subtler than those all around in the booming Chinese contemporary art market. Wang seems to be like Eva and understands 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. Drawn into 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 Westerners she had been happy to leave behind, Eva enters a glamorous bar on the Bund – and sees Wang among them, sleekly dressed, just like them. Wang is not at all what he had 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 Pudong skyline, Eva realises that she must change.
Years later, a well-dressed Chinese man, bearing all the marks of success, passes a small European art gallery. In it, works in vivid colours hint at the styles of both Wang’s and Eva’s paintings, a mixture of tradition and modernity, Asian and Old World. On the window is the name of the artist, EVA NOUI, and the title of the show, DREAMS FOR CHINA. The Chinese man stops – smiles a smile we seem to recognise – and goes in.
Written, produced and directed by Vanessa Everts. First Assistant Director: Gianpaolo Lupori. Director of Photography: Stefano Fusi. Production Manager: Pauline Sun. Actors: Wei Zhe, Charlie Mayer, Vanessa Everts. Editors: Marie Deroudille, Tom Hall. Music in teaser: Steven Reich ‘Electric Counterpoint’, performed by Jonny Greenwood. With special thanks to Zhu Jiang, James Loudon, Wang Jiajin, Matthieu Wolmark, Matthijs van Basten Batenburg, Joy Wang, Benjy Ward, Riva and Pari Das, and all locations, extras cast and crew.