Cannes 2014: ‘Fantasia’
China is everywhere. When I think about it, I’ve seen the ‘Made in China’ sign my whole life in almost all products at home. Now is such a big economic empire that everyone is attracted to, and everyone wants to get a piece from. Cinema is not far from this, and a whole new space has been opened to place this country in a spotlight to show us and makes us closer to a culture that had always been such a great mystery to Western people.
Modern life has made China one of the most ironic places in the world. As their economic grows, their problems do too. Or at least, that’s the perspective I’ve got from Wan Chao’s latest film Fantasia which follows the life of an ordinary family from an industrial Chinese city who has to deal with everyday issues in a moving society that may go faster than it is prepared.
The film was part of the Un certain regard competition and Through a slow storytelling and few dialoguesm the director shows us a transition of a family dealing with modern issues that affect Chinese people in the middle class. For me, a slow decadence of traditional family values, usual activities, changes in professions and even the installation of sadness and despair as part of them.
Health consequences from working in a fabric, prostitution of the underage, precarious jobs and dealing with illegality is the sum of this family’s destiny that is far from being evolved or belonging to the idea of modern life, associated with the American dream of comfort.
My father used to say that in times of crisis, there are people who cry but other who sell the tissues. That’s why Fantasia is the reflection of social challenges and new everyday life conflicts that rise as some have to deal with the consequences of this economic system that will always be beneficial for just some people.
But this critique came to me more evidently when the melodies from “O Sole mio” came from the saxophone of the protagonist, just in moments of despair and as the movie’s last note. Is it a scream from this society because of having to get adapted to Western influence? Or just another consequence of this new kind of life, that has impact the Chinese for good and for bad? A musical reference of how all these changes affect their identity and what they really are.