Capturing Beijing through the viewfinder

Updated: 2013-07-18 02:17

By Deng Zhangyu (China Daily)

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Like other winners, Selander stayed in Beijing for one week with his Chinese shooting team from the Beijing Film Academy. The seven-day trip and countless discussions with his Chinese partners gave him a deeper sense of Beijing. Selander has reworked his script to "make it more authentic to Beijing".

"The original story is like an adventure. The hero has explored all those famous tourist spots in Beijing. It looks more like a promotion film for the city," jokes Gao Cao, director of Selander's script You, Me and Beijing. Gao is now at his second year for his master degree at Beijing Film Academy.

Capturing Beijing through the viewfinder

Selander discusses the script with his Chinese film team members.

Selander's script follows a boy who left his American mother to live in Beijing with his Chinese father. Floundering in his new life in Beijing, the boy established a friendship with a Chinese girl through games and misadventures. Finally, he also eased the rigid attitudes of his father.

"It's weird for people living in Beijing to date at Tiananmen Square or the Forbidden City. We won't do that," says Nian Jianlun, the producer of You, Me and Beijing, also a student from Beijing Film Academy.

Selander had never been to China before. Most of his impressions of Beijing were based on what he had read. So there's no wonder he could write anecdotes like having the kids of his film eat tanghulu — a traditional snack of candied fruit on skewers popular in winter — while the story happens in summer.

Among the 15 winners at the competition award ceremony, Selander is one of the few who had come to Beijing for the first time; most others already had connections with China, including Cameron White from Princeton.

White has studied Chinese for eight years. His fluency makes it easy to communicate with his Chinese producer Huang Han, also a student from Beijing Film Academy. "He knows China so well that I have no difficulty talking with him," says Huang.

White writes of a talented flutist who comes to Beijing to pursue her music dream. The girl from a regional city finally finds that a life spent in a practice room will not ensure her success.