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China's Godfather of Rock 'n' Roll Puts On A Director's Cap
02-17-2014 | Music Events
Cui Jian has always been an artist - hardly surprising considering he was born out of a marriage between a musician and a dancer. His latest artistic foray marks the rock star's directorial debut in the film industry as the mastermind behind his "Blue Sky Bones". Cui Jian recently visited New York City in support of the inaugural U.S. screening of his film at New York University (NYU). He also graciously took time out of his busy schedule to meet twice with a group of interested students, music enthusiasts, and press prior to the showing. The event, aptly titled "Conversations With Cui Jian", allowed attendees to personally ask the "Godfather of Chinese Rock 'n' Roll" questions in an unrestrained manner that simulated the air of intimate conversation.
Wearing his iconic white cap with the lone red star splashed across its center, Cui Jian kicked off his second conversation with a reminder that he considers music to be his way of being able to interact with society despite not finishing college, or even high school. In particular, although it is hard to define rock and roll, he sees it as indicative of having the courage to face historical and social situations. A critical element of rock comes from its seriousness, or lack thereof, as it can be seen as a critique of what is traditionally considered to be serious. Cui Jian further expounded that rock's role is act as hammer, a balancing act of sorts; whenever societal problems, such as social injustice and unemployment, tip to one extreme, it is partially rock 'n' roll's job to even out the scales.
Seeing as Cui Jian considers music and film to be "sister arts", it seems appropriate that the newly turned director intended "Blue Sky Bones" to serve a similar purpose. Although initially reserved when asked about what influences living in China has had on his art, the rock star became passionately vocal when the inquisitive student zeroed in on the June Fourth incident. Cui Jian responded that one of the resulting struggles is the phenomenon of "traumatic amnesia", or forgetting out of fear, which puts people in conflict because of a disconnect between conflict and reality. There is a certain self-struggle for stability that results in the avoidance of tackling relevant problems and postponing them for a future generation. "Blue Sky Bones" tackles this issue by confronting its viewers about whether they have the courage to embrace the story it weaves, as the film follows underground hacker and musician Zhong Hua in his journey of self-discovery. While struggling with feeling disjointed from his present day reality, he manages to find solace and a greater sense of self-understanding by coming to terms with the history of his parents' dystopic past. It is only when the traumatic amnesia is shed that it becomes possible to comfortably look to the future.
However, given China's restrictive nature, it is not easy to use self-expression to right the unbalance of societal woes, forcing Cui Jian to resort to self-censorship in order to relay his message. "It is a safer way to emote passion. I do not like this style," the rock star stated matter-of-factly, "but I accept it due to my experiences in China. The most important thing is to remember not to sacrifice too much of yourself." This game of reading between the lines becomes its own art form.
Read the full article here - http://www.musicdish.com/mag/?id=13534
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