What happens when a Wong Kar Wai (
To the possible surprise of many people, the trendy pop-style show will air on the National Geographic Channel -- which is famous for shows about wild animals, science and historical documentaries.
PHOTO COURTESY OF NGC
Two-Way Tea Journey (
The story of the film is, like the title suggests, a two-way journey. On one hand, it's a search for 5,000 years of Chinese tea culture, which was almost ruined by the Cultural Revolution; on the other, it's a personal journey reflecting on a man coming to peace with the trauma of that period in history, through picking up the tea-drinking habit again.
Yuan Jianguo (
The documentary team followed Yuan, first going to Yixing in east China to search for the best quality tea pot, made in the world famous zisha pot kiln (
Finally, Yuan went to Lu Mountain to look for the purest, sweetest spring water, a crucial element to making a good pot of tea.
This tea journey is also a quest of self-discovery and the grief caused by the Cultural Revolution is analyzed along the way.
The score of Lim offers a different pace for this sentimental part of the journey. It is sometimes lively and light-hearted, sometimes slow and chill -- and sometimes tranquil like new age music.
"When the director, Lee asked me to do music for the film, he said he wanted the music to be the narrator. So I tried to make the music play the part of the voice-over," Lim said.
"Lim impresses me with his music. His music sounds international, but if you listen to the beat closely, you can feel that it has a very Chinese feeling. And this is the new Asian perspective I wanted to present in the movie," Lee said.
In other words, this 30-minute, Chinese tea-related film does not re-exploit the stereotypes and symbols of Chinese culture. There are no gongs and drums as a Chinese music background and no grand overview of a giant temple. Instead, the visual style is similar to acclaimed Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai.
Lee's two previous films are documentaries of two of Wong's feature films. In 2000, Lee co-directed Buenos Aires Zero Degree, the Making of Happy Together. And in 2001, he was the co-director of the movie The Making of In the Mood for Love.
"Wong has had a great influence on him [Lim], especially in the use of music," Lee said.
Wong has previously said that the starting point for many of his movies is usually a piece of music or a song that he hears, rather than a script or idea.
"I was also inspired by the music of Lim and let the image follow the music. In this film, the music goes in front," he said.
The new documentary style has been recognized by the National Geographic Channel as Two-Way Tea Journey was the winner of Reel Talent, an award category under the Showing Real Asia project, which recognizes young Asian directors under the age of 35. As for Lee's next film: "I will also apply for funds from this project," he said.
For your information: Two-Way Tea Journey will be screened on the National Geographic Channel at 9:30pm, tomorrow.
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