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A love letter to Shanghai

By Raymond Zhou | China Daily | Updated: 2012-08-10 09:50

Creating crossover appeal and adopting the yin-yang approach

Q & A| Janet Yang

Why did you pick a romantic comedy with a cross-cultural angle?

Given how popular romantic comedies are in both China and the US, and how Chinese audiences embrace American-style movies, it seemed really worth challenging ourselves to make a movie with "crossover" appeal.

Both you and Daniel Hsia are Chinese-American. Do the investors fear that your background may restrict the movie to a certain minority?

We've had fantastic support from both our individual American investors as well as our Chinese partners, China Film Group.

I believe they saw something in the script that made them feel this was a project that had potential for a broad audience. Especially since we have not seen any international movies authentically set in contemporary China, while at the same time there is now immense and intense curiosity about China from all corners of the world.

When China appears in Hollywood movies, authenticity is always a problem. How did you strive to be both authentic and sincere?

Having grown up as an Asian minority in the States, and then experiencing some discrimination in China in the 80s as someone who was mistaken as a local, I have always been hypersensitive to stereotyping and prejudice.

Do you think there is a formula that Chinese filmmakers can use to push Chinese films into the global market?

It starts with the script. Here in Hollywood, some people - and I have been one of them - lament how formulaic many movies have become. In China, however, a little more attention to genre filmmaking and disciplined story structure would go a long way to helping the film industry.

What is the part of traditional Chinese culture that you like the most?

I feel I have distinct elements of Taoism and Buddhism, and maybe even some Confucianism in me. I think the resilience of Chinese people is largely the result of the wisdom of these traditions, whether conscious or not.

I like that Chinese seem to be very secure in their identity as Chinese. The complexities of Chinese society seem more embedded in the system rather than in the individual.

What is the one trait that you feel you have successfully connected the two parts of you, culturally speaking?

Ironically the philosophical tenet that has most helped me integrate my dual background is the Chinese concept of yin-yang, the notion that opposites in fact are inexorably linked and can co-exist peacefully as part of a greater whole.