CIRCLE Interviews: Meet Fan Wu, CIRCLE 2020 Participant
Fan Wu is an independent filmmaker from Taiwan. She is an alumna of IDFAcademy and DOC NOMADS Joint Master Degree in Documentary Filmmaking. In 2019 she co-founded
Svemirko Film to produce author- driven creative documentaries. She is producing Venice Atienza’s Last Days at Sea (IDFA Bertha Fund), and Lo Yi-Shan’s After the Snowmelt (DMZ Development Fund). She is a member of DAE (Documentary Association of Europe). XiXi is her first feature.
Q: Please introduce yourself and your project briefly.
A: I am Fan, a directress and producer from Taiwan, and a co-founder of Svemirko Film.
Fan Wu, photo from private archive
My project XiXi is about the friendship between me and my friend XiXi. We encountered each other in Berlin but had to say goodbye soon after - she moved to France and I returned to Taiwan. The long-distance friendship is kept alive by years of video-diary exchanges across Eurasia. Our relationship is tested when I am alerted by the price of emancipation, and she insists to remain uncompromising.
Q: Why this film? What is your most important motivation?
A: It started as a personal project -- when I moved back to Taiwan, I began to miss XiXi badly. Filming is the best excuse to visit her in France.
As the project progresses, I realize my fascination and questions towards her are actually something universal. In knowing XiXi, I was inspired to ask myself the question that I didn’t know how to formulate before: what does it mean to be free as a woman? What kind of ethical questions are there waiting to be raised and answered?
Q: What is the biggest challenge in making this film?
A: There are different challenges in each stage of the making… When I applied for CIRCLE, my biggest challenge is to define how much of myself should be in the film. How much does the story need me? How much do I want to be in it? And also : how to find a good distance as a director when I am also one of the leading characters?
Q: What would be the most frustrating/troubling part of filmmaking (as a woman)?
A: Very often when your film is about mens’ experiences, it is more easily to be considered as universal. Unfortunately this doesn’t apply to female experiences. You need to work harder to reach wider audiences.
Q: And the most rewarding one?
A: To be able to share something very personal with people who are very different from me, and they understand it fully!
Q: How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your work as a filmmaker?
A: Somehow film festivals and forums become more accessible for filmmakers from my part of the world during pandemic as they were moved online.
Q: What inspires you the most in your creative journeys?
A: Friendships and culture difference.
Q: Can you compare your experience at CIRCLE with other similar platforms that you have been part of?
A: Despite the common structure, CIRCLE is very tailor-made for each project. They check carefully what the participants need and put heartfull efforts in curating the program. And there is a longer time frame that allows the project to evolve with a circle of tutors and fellow filmmakers. And I felt that CIRCLE is not just a workshop but a growing community.
Q: What were the most important benefits from being part of CIRCLE program? A: To meet courageous fellow filmmakers!
Q: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.
A: I love Agnes Varda’s The Beaches of Agnès and Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels. Despite their differences, they were both raw and original expressions of personal truths.
Q: Do you have a favorite documentary film? Why is it one of your favorites?
My recent favorites are Mia Engberg’s Belleville Baby and Kazuo Hara’s Extreme Private Eros. Both films start with something aching intimately inside the filmmakers and they manage to make it into something bigger than life.
Q: What is the most important thing for you as a spectator? What do you search/expect to find in films?
A: I want to feel that the director is really open to his/her audiences and trust his/her audiences’ intelligence and sensibilities.
Q: What advice do you have for other (female) directors?
A: Believe in yourself and your desire to make the film -- if you have that fire in you, it will be a wonderful film for sure!
Still from Fan's film XiXi