【To the New Era and New Heaven and Earth・Documentary Creator】

What is the "temperature" of the documentary?

"It's 'cold' and 'warm'." In answering this question, many young documentary filmmakers seem somewhat contradictory.

Through this lens focusing on the real world, people can see the daily duty of the police at the grassroots police station, and experience the bittersweet and bittersweet of their protection of the stability of the party; Be able to listen to the story of "I repaired cultural relics in the Forbidden City" and talk about history with cultural relics restorers; I can meet my brother who loves to sing on the night shift, and find my shadow in his serious life... Close to the present and concerned with reality, these works by young documentary creators show the heat of life to the fullest, and arouse a documentary boom among audiences of their age.

The real nature of the documentary determines its "cold" quality - the "cold spectator" shot, the way it is treated calmly. However, documentaries are also "warm", and this warmth comes from the temperature of ordinary life. Perception of the temperature of life depends on the lens of the documentary creator: the "eye" of this lens must be keen, otherwise it will miss the warmth flowing in life; The "will" of this lens must be firm, otherwise it will not be able to capture thought-provoking issues in the homogeneous and fragmented information flow of the Internet; The "attitude" of this shot has to be sincere, otherwise it is impossible to gain insight into the emotions that resonate in unusual phenomena.

There is a story in every frame of life

The waves sway gently and the sun sets. On the deck, an elderly man raised his food and looked into the sky. The circling seagull seemed to sense his kindness and came to his side from time to time and take away food.

This warm picture, young documentary filmmaker Zhang Xuejiao and photographers have long been "holding on". During the Dragon Boat Festival, Zhang Xuejiao filmed the documentary "72 Hours of Documentary" on the cruise ship bound for Yantai in Dalian, and she hoped to harvest the stories of travelers in these three days. A middle-aged man behind the old man walked towards her, only then did she suddenly come back to her senses from the picture in front of her.

The middle-aged man first looked at the old man in the camera and said to Zhang Xuejiao: "This is my father." During the rest of the journey, the middle-aged man talked a lot with Zhang Xuejiao: his old father was terminally ill, and he decided to travel to China with his parents, who had never left the countryside. He did not let his father know about his illness, but his father, who has always been thrifty, uncharacteristically never stopped his son from spending money during the trip. The father "should know something."

The dramatic story takes place in the real world, and the tacit "Chinese father-son relationship" makes Zhang Xuejiao unable to calm down for a long time. Zhang Xuejiao did not expect that there was such a heart-warming story behind the beautiful picture on the deck.

"The more I walk into the lives of ordinary people, the more I feel that I know very little about life." Zhang Xuejiao believes that the stories in the vast life are the continuous nourishment of documentaries, and people who are keenly aware of life can always find something valuable in it.

In the end, the finished film did not broadcast this story, because Zhang Xuejiao could not bear it, she was afraid that the release of the film would break this tacit understanding between father and son. She is confident, with a keen eye, and can still look for clues in "every frame" of life.

Wang Tingxuan, a documentary filmmaker and young teacher at the School of Arts and Media at Beijing Normal University, shared similar feelings. When filming "Twenty Years in Macau", he identified the protagonist as a telecommunications engineer. The protagonist's daily commute between Zhuhai and Macau becomes an incision, through his ordinary but wonderful life, the audience can truly experience the development and changes of Macao's customs clearance policy and the confidence of locals to face the future. In Wang Tingxuan's view, the more grand the theme of the narrative, the more it is often displayed through the perspective of the individual, because "grandeur is composed of the life of every ordinary person".

Grasp the artistic narrative amid the noise

In a documentary class by Han Yue, an associate professor at Tianjin Normal University's School of Journalism and Communication, students often photograph selected topics about intangible cultural heritage.

The original intention of choosing the topic is good, but the highly homogeneous expression makes Han Yue sigh lightly - sometimes, young people's ideas may not be new.

"The content is nothing more than these: craftsmanship, inheritance, craftsmanship." Han Yue twisted his fingers and counted the common shooting routines. "99% of students do not jump out of these patterns. They are 'Internet natives', and it is too easy to get information, but this information is fragmented and superficial. In Han Yue's view, a good documentary does not necessarily cover everything, but it should be creative, thoughtful and deep.

Wang Tingxuan often thinks about the same question, in the era of noisy self-media, what is the narrative topic that documentarians should grasp?

In 2017, Wang Tingxuan followed his mentor to conduct style research for the documentary "Tiangong Suzuo". On the way, he discussed a word with his mentor: the word "jue", the magic of which is that its two pronunciations correspond to the fictional and non-fictional attributes of the film. Some films bring the audience an experience like a dream while sleeping, while others use the true meaning of life to awaken people.

In this documentary about Suzhou's intangible inheritors "Tiangong Suzuo", the inventor of the simple needle embroidery method turned white within a few days because the style of the works exhibited was very different from the traditional style of Su embroidery; The thousand-year-old "Xiangshan Gang" construction technology stands at a fork in history, and the standard and efficient modern management model has a huge difference with the traditional concept of slow work and meticulous work of the craftsmen of the father's generation... The trend of change and the questions of the times are raining down throughout the film.

"Whether it is Su embroidery or 'Xiangshan Gang' architecture, they are all produced under certain historical conditions. Thousands of years later, are they still alive? Wang Tingxuan walked into the life scenes of intangible inheritors with strong social concerns, laying out the contradictions and quests on their transformation path together with exquisite skills, allowing the audience to experience the bitterness and enthusiasm contained in them.

Why is documentary not a search for tradition and modernity? "Shooting video is no longer a 'technological job', what should documentarians do? I think it's important to continue to be artistic and ideological. Exercise the ability to think independently, embrace new technologies, and embrace a fiery life. Wang Tingxuan said.

It is better to be deep than to be sincere

At the end of 2017, Zhang Xuejiao led her team to a noodle restaurant on Jiefang West Road in Changsha, Hunan Province, to record the stories that happened in the past few days of New Year's Eve.

New Year's hopes, the warmth of the city, the vigorous vitality of young people... Zhang Xuejiao's vision of this work reflects her ambition. She even thought about how the film should end: fireworks illuminate the banks of the Xiangjiang River, and young people flocking to exchange New Year's wishes under the gorgeous night sky.

Unexpectedly, the arrival of a rain changed everything. There are not many young people in the camera, and the time passes minute by minute, and the material Zhang Xuejiao wants is "delayed in coming to the appointment".

The problem is broken, the pace is fast, always jumping to the next story when it is about to go deeper, and the charm is insufficient... This film left Zhang Xuejiao with a little regret.

How can you capture that long-lasting charm? Zhang Xuejiao fell into deep thought.

Why not travel light, step into the fiery life, and see the world with your youthful eyes? Zhang Xuejiao decided to abandon the original "deep assumptions", let go of all presuppositions, and observe young people from a sincere perspective. This time, she focused the camera on the trendy play phenomenon that is very popular nowadays.

At 6 o'clock in the morning, at the Shanghai International Trend Toy Fair, the figures of Zhang Xuejiao and her group were drowned in a long line of thousands of people.

"They're crazy and queue up all night to get limited toys." Zhang Xuejiao wants to try to understand what these "adults" who buy toys and play with dolls think.

Among the group of young people jumping around, a middle-aged lady in her forties and fifties attracted Zhang Xuejiao's attention. It turned out that she was lining up for her daughter. Her daughter is a doctor who likes to play very much and cannot come to the scene due to her busy work. This mother and daughter have always been the most important companions in each other's lives. The woman took out a toy and told Zhang Xuejiao that the other toys were designated by her daughter to buy, and this limited edition toy was a birthday gift she chose for her daughter.

"You will find that people who buy toys have a deep desire for companionship, expression, and use this as a medium to strengthen emotional bonds and expand social circles." Zhang Xuejiao said.

Is the trend phenomenon difficult to understand? Are contemporary young people different? Are people estranged in the Internet age? This young documentary creator, who no longer pretends to be deep, used the lens to lead the audience through the streets, and finally gained deep thinking from the audience.

"It is sincerity that gives the documentary magic, the true love between people, and warms the life inside and outside the camera." Zhang Xuejiao wrote this when summing up her experience. (Guangming Daily reporter Yin Zehao Chen Yu)