Q. Congratulations Junshu Gu for being one of the Finalists in your movie All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking, but… at the Stockholm City Film Festival as a Best Experimental Film. We know that it was your debut project, would you like to tell us about your passion and motivation for your 1st movie?
A. Thank you so much. I am delighted that my debut project has been recognized as the Best Experimental Film finalist at the Stockholm City Film Festival. This moving image work had its first screening at Tate Modern Lates in March of this year. It was a response to Maria Bartuszová’s exhibition at that time and a crystallization of my thoughts during that period. With a background in cultural journalism during my formative years, I often saw myself as a ‘Flâneur,’ allowing me ample time to observe human interactions within the urban landscape.
However, it was my experience in Barcelona last summer that provided a new perspective on this term. One evening, while awaiting a table outside a restaurant in a narrow alley, a motorcyclist snatched my phone. This minor yet impactful incident forced me to confront the challenges of being a female solo flâneur for the first time. I neither expected this frightening experience to deter my passion for strolling nor allow fear to seize control over my right to walk freely as a female.
Therefore, I decided to journey back to Paris, the birthplace of the term “Flâneur,” where I captured this nocturnal exploration on film. My intention was not to incite, but rather to convey the transformation of my internal resistance through visual storytelling—a process demanding crystallization, digestion, and expression. Frankly, I had never contemplated film as a medium for expressing my thoughts before, and I had no intention of explicitly labeling my project as feminist. But, this transition occurred naturally, and I find it to be a fascinating beginning.
Q. As an independent filmmaker, it is always a great plus point to be an all-rounder where you write your script and direct it by yourself, would like to share such experiences with our readers and followers?
A. The first foray into creating an experimental short film is a venture teeming with uncharted territory, imbued with a mix of exhilaration and restlessness. Delving into the intricacies of editing, sound manipulation, and the myriad challenges inherent in being an independent filmmaker presented me with a fresh set of obstacles to overcome.
Given the absence of a substantial budget for this production, I was granted the liberty to navigate the creative process at my own pace. For instance, even before the editing stage, I held a firm conviction that this work should be contained within the confines of 4’33”. This choice was inspired by John Cage’s concept and intended to serve as a subtle commentary on the absence of the female flâneur in the contemporary context.
Moreover, I integrated a recording of a reading of Virginia Woolf’s ” Street haunting :a London adventure” as the background music. It was designed to function as a catalytic force, a suggestion, and even a disruption within the work. Nestled within the core of the piece lies a concealed emotional juncture, transitioning from structured narratives to a realm of incoherent murmurs. For someone of heightened self-awareness, these minor experiments, flashes of inspiration, and even seemingly trivial challenges constitute the very essence of joy in the realm of independent creativity—the aspects I relish the most.
Naturally, I hold a fondness for collaborating with a dedicated team, enabling professionals to excel in their respective domains, and fostering a dynamic energy through creative collisions. Yet, perhaps, that’s another story.
Q. Now tell us about your journey towards your 1st movie, how did you become a filmmaker? when and how did you decide to become a filmmaker?
As a cinephile, my aspiration was to find my place within the filmmaking industry as I navigated my career path. I, along with my peers, belonged to a uniquely alternative generation during China’s development. We shaped our worldviews and perspectives through DVDs, cassettes, and the internet, immersing ourselves in a diverse tapestry of French New Wave directors, Britpop, European avant-garde cinema from the 1920s, and later, American works. The process of absorbing this wealth of knowledge wasn’t bound by a strict timeline. The sheer volume of information and the serendipitous nature of our encounters generated an untamed and boundless creative energy. I believe this marked the initial spark of my attraction to the medium of film.
Before pursuing further studies in the UK, I took on the role of a film journalist as an initial step to understanding the industry. fuelled by my respect for filmmakers, I utilized text to express my thoughts. However, as I embarked on my subsequent academic journey, I experienced a phase of profound self-transformation. Gradually, I found written expression to be limiting, and I yearned for a medium that would allow me to communicate through moving images, departing from static installations and photography. Thus, I consciously decided not to shy away from this new path, and this is where I find myself today.
Q. How All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking, but… performing at other film festivals?
As a newcomer, I feel fortunate. Through a series of small experimental explorations, I received some recognition. In addition to the Stockholm City Film Festival, I was also selected and honored in other film festivals (European Cinematography AWARDS, The Dumbo Film Festival, Vienna International Film Awards, etc.) and screenings on big screens (Shorts On Tap – London, etc.). These have given me the confidence to continue exploring.
Q. When are we going to see your next movie?
My future direction remains uncertain at this point; it’s currently a collection of fragmented ideas. Some enduring themes that have always piqued my interest are the flâneur, the vanishing point, and escapism. Therefore, I’m inclined to continue down this path and explore different avenues of expression. Recently, I rewatched Abbas Kiarostami’s “Certified Copy,” a film that still resonates with me. Its concrete approach, abstract interpretations, profound dialogues, strategic silences, and multi-layered structure are genuinely captivating. Consequently, I’ve contemplated that my next project may incorporate more narrative elements, going beyond a mere visual progression.
Q. Your next project be as a scriptwriter or director, or you are going to be a writer and director as you did in All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking, but…?
Certainly, I believe I will maintain this approach for my upcoming work or, in the short term, for several endeavors. As a newcomer, I require a degree of creative freedom to allow for the possibility of spontaneous inspiration and to ensure a seamless translation of words into visuals. For a creator, while you’re composing the text, the storyline in your mind is already unfolding in a multi-threaded and non-linear manner. Hence, the advantage of self-writing and self-directing is akin to recording a dream; it possesses an inherent and captivating sense of chaos.
Q. Tell us more about your future plan as an indie filmmaker?
My ideal vision involves being an artist who employs film as a medium. Utilizing my dual sensitivity to words and visuals, I aim to continue my artistic research and exploration, similar to Derek Jarman and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Their creations find a place in cinemas, but they are equally suited for art galleries and even public spaces. Different settings and environments offer distinct layers of experience to the audience. This intrinsic dynamism within visual works forms the core of my inspiration.
Q. How motivated are you for your future as an independent filmmaker?
This is a simple yet complex question. Or, to put it simply, preserving the urge to express, and capture universal human emotions, is perhaps my driving force. This idea prompts me to recall Agnès Varda’s words, “I am a woman. I believe I possess the spirit, intelligence, and, dare I say, the soul of a woman.”
Q. Would like to share your work with our followers? We would love to post your suggested links in your interview.
Yes, I am very willing to share my work and thoughts with the audience. Here is my website: https://www.kuulikki.com/ Thank you so much for conducting the interview.