Despite another summer of COVID-19, the Linden Centre safely launched the "Filming Workshop 2021" at our hotel in Dongshan, Suzhou. In ten days and nights, six teenagers filmed three documentaries in an ancient village by the Taihu Lake, telling the stories of four local people.
Today we are going to watch the documentary work "Inheritor" by Tyler, Tiana and Eva, to explore how two Suzhou citizens approached the concept of preserving the local traditional culture.
We originally wanted to name the film Rebirth to highlight the differences between old and new culture." However, Cheng Lei told us that culture never dies out. Coffee and tea are not opposites but are the manifestations of cultural diversity. We were very touched and thus changed the name to Inheritor.
——Tyler, Tiana, Eva
Tyler, Tiana and Eva all live in Shanghai, yet come from diverse cultural backgrounds In the initial days of summer camp, they discovered they had complementary personalities, and realized they made a good team. During fieldwork, they met Xu Peixiang, a "living treasure" guide at Zijin Temple, and Cheng Lei, the owner of Daoqin Xiaozhu.
The older of the two, Teacher Xu, is a revered guide at a thousand-year-old temple who tells the guests the ancient stories and history. Cheng Lei is an interpreter of traditional culture at his modern Suzhou garden; a creator of new lifestyles. The commonality they share is the love for traditional Chinese culture. The film team decided to use both of their stories along with the two buildings to create a theme - the multi-inheritance of traditional Chinese culture.
Once filming began, language barriers became the first problem encountered by the Chinese-Western group so each had to take a defined role. The outgoing and enthusiastic Tyler actively served as the translator; Tiana persistently mined the context of the story; and Eva, quiet and thoughtful, kept recording and filming details of the interviews.
When Xu Peixiang talked about his work he said: "Although I have worked at Zijin Temple for 40 years, I am still full of enthusiasm, it may be the audience’s first time to listen to the stories, so I hope everyone can feel the charm of these thousand-year-old Arhats."
Cheng Lei also talked about his original intention to build Daoqin Xiaozhu: "In the past, Suzhou gardens were a part of people's lives. But now they have become scenic spots and are worshipped symbolically by people. I hope that more young people will experience these places. Traditional gardens can be integrated with modernity." This thinking about cultural inheritance deeply influenced the three students.
There are many things to figure out when filming. "It's really hard to shoot carp swimming together," Tyler said. "To attract all the carp in the pond, I lie on the bank and gently stir the water with my hands, they think I am going to feed them. All this happens for a two-second shot."
The second problem in the shooting and editing was how to naturally link the two character’s stories, otherwise the material would simply start to pile on top of each other.
After constantly reviewing, thinking and discussing, Tyler, Tiana, and Eva thought that they could use the two beverages – tea and coffee, and the two buildings - Zijin Temple and Daoqin Xiaozhu, as the "glue between the two protagonists," then use montage to show how they parallel and intersect.
As Bella Baraz said, “Once the upper and lower lenses are connected, the unusual rich meanings hidden in each lens produces electric sparks.”
When tea meets coffee, when the classical Zijin Temple meets the modern Daoqin Xiaozhu, a wonderful encounter arises: Xu Peixiang makes the traditional Dongshan tea Biluochun, and Cheng Lei makes coffee at Daoqin Xiaozhu. A montage clip connects the two lives together, each scene is the right length and the right time.
△ Coffe and Tea
△Modern and Tradition
The short film touches the audience, who observes: "Inheritor" explores the ways of life, each man represents a different generation, ultimately both are cultural inheritors."
Although the impact of each inheritor like Xu Peixiang and Cheng Lei may be small, their consistent efforts will eventually make a difference. The process of understanding life’s choices is observed and recorded by the students, an appreciation that is reflected in the making of this film and in their hearts.
Our world is full of millions of ordinary people, and everyone is a documentary.
（Please click the link below to watch the full movie）
Directors：Tyler, Tiana, Eva
Tutor： Liu Yang
15 years old, From India
15 years old, From USA
17 years old, From Shanghai