INTRODUCTION (Producers’ Note)
Staying in a hotel is always a slightly surreal experience. You check in, you enter a strange room, you unpack your few belongings, and this new space becomes a temporary, if foreign, home. The bed, the shower, the desk, the sink – all familiar elements, now made unfamiliar. Out in the hallway, countless closed doors are mute about the mysteries they contain. And when you ride in the lift or wait in the lobby, you discover others – temporary just like yourself; strangers that you already know intimately.
“Short Stays” was inspired by this notion of a hotel as a blank slate for the imagination. Three emerging filmmakers were invited to take the Opposite House as a starting point, and create a short film inspired by this borderline space. Beyond the location and the time range (7-15 minutes), the directors had total freedom. And the results of this creative experiment are as wildly unique as the filmmakers that made them.
Zhao Ye’s previous films often reveal subtle comedy in the textures of everyday life, and in “Excuse Me,” he uses an almost-documentary style to record some ordinary moments of a busy hotel – framed by the visit of a little girl who is anything but ordinary. It could be seen as a delicately-futuristic, tongue-in-cheek tale of a changing Beijing. Liu Jiayin is best known for her ground-breaking experimental features set entirely in her small family home, starring herself and her parents. In “607,” she applies her aesthetic to her smallest setting yet – a single one of the Opposite House’s iconic wooden bathtubs – and choreographs a highly-conceptual ballet using only hands, simple objects and water. Playing with sound, time, and motion, Liu conjures an entire creation myth in miniature. Finally Peng Lei brings his retro yet new-wave sensibility to “A Room with a Cat,” a pop-infused tale of a beautiful girl and her feline waiting for an unknown visitor. It’s playful and sexy, with an undercurrent of longing – and the surprise at the end transforms this modern love story into a Dada-ist fairytale.
To chronicle the production of these three shorts, “Short Stays” invited up-and-coming photographers Madi Ju and Lin Zhi Peng (aka 223) to add their own distinct perspectives to the project. Their raw, tender snapshots capture the world of each film’s characters, as well as the view behind the scenes, of three of Beijing’s most dynamic young filmmakers in action.
These films present three performances on a fixed stage… three conversations between artist and environment… three short visits to a filmmaker’s imagination.
We hope you enjoy your stay.
- From the producers, Samantha Culp and Zhang Xianmin