Documentary filmmakers’ roots wind deeply into history by dramatizing that history’s meaningful implications, and hopefully those meanings would bring insights to each viewer’s wilderness journey. This was our mission statement for our film, but as we traveled toward Hancheng, in the middle of China it became the mission statement for each person in our crew. As our journey continued through this unknown world we tried to keep our expectations and prejudices locked out of our minds. We were concerned and maybe a bit fearful of how those in this alien culture would receive us. All we had within us was unlimited passion for film making.
Our team was courageous in dealing with the unknown as our trip progressed into the ancient part of China. The journey to fulfill our destiny bonded the three of us – the film director Arthurs Hnikins, the camera man Arthur Kryk, and me, the film producer Olga Melnikova. Each of us agreed this adventure has indelibly change our lives. Our journey was to present our short film “Water” as a film crew from Latvia during the 72 hour film competition , “You are in my Heart” held at the Jinzhen International Short Film Festival in Hancheng.
While making film we enter the world of real people’s lives, perceive their culture, art, and social dynamics. We immerse ourselves in their reality and became invisible in the environment. That’s how our story begins…
“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it”…
– George Moore
There is always a true miracle when you meet the Devine. Unexpectedly and with surprise it happen to us the first day we came to Hacnheng. Our walkway took us directly to the Yellow River`s bank, the mother of all rivers in Asia. In front of our eyes we saw its magnificence, glory and peace. Suddenly we witnessed Yellow River Huanhe! In China there is an ancient myth about fish and dragon. According to tradition, a carp that could leap the falls of the Yellow River at Dragon Gate, would be transformed into a dragon: this motif symbolizes success in civil life. As we stayed close for hours the Yellow River filled our hearts and souls, as if we were drinking pure and sacred water. What happened in reality, the Mother River healed our souls. From that day we have been different…a miraculous journey!
Another amazement was the local people’s hospitality. Whoever you are the Chinese treat you as a God. Regardless of your race, child, woman or a man, they are a very hospitable and make you a special guest. They surround you with great love. They surround you with great love, and if you enter their home with an open heart, you become a member of the family. The union usually happens during the tea ceremony. Tensions are released, with no need to speak Chinese. If you sincerely wish to be understood by these people. You explain almost everything either using body gesturers or using translation application. Human relationship is your language while you are traveling this land. The first three days we spent without translators and in the end we found it an exciting experience.
The second day in Hancheng began with yet another surprise. An outside drum sound woke us early and music was coming from the middle of the city. When we arrived, we became observers of a Chinese wedding. Wedding rituals and customs vary by region, because of China’s vast with rich histories. The different cultures and their unique ethno-linguistic groups protect their uniqueness. In different areas we saw six unique wedding ceremonies at diverse social levels, hence they all shared traditional rituals.
Centuries of strong Chinese family traditions and values make children special treasures. Additionally, many aspects of Chinese life revolves round honoring parents or ancestors. In fact, the majority of the “five relationships” espoused by Confucius are directly centered on the family. Due to this focus on the family, it is common for the Chinese, even when fully grown with children to remain close to their hometown, and have living generations under the same roof. While family in China is central, it is constantly being attacked by the rapid rise of the Chinese economy.
One of our main character of the film was a Chinese calligrapher. We were honored to shoot at his home, and he welcomed us as a true friends. It was a rare moment, when East meets the West in harmony and peace. We were sitting at one table, drinking tea, listening to ancient Chinese music and the true language we used; art. This moment will remain with us forever, because it was presence and meditation at the same time…
“One cannot divine nor forecast the conditions that will make happiness; one only stumbles upon them by chance, in a lucky hour, at the world’s end somewhere.”
– Willa Cather
Text and photos made by Olga Melnikova
Text edited by Mike Kilgore
All rights reserved @CREA Promotion