Behemoths are usually terrifying biblical monsters, who or what is the behemoth in your film?
In this film, the title of Behemoth refers to human kind's greed and lust.
How did you choose the people who would become the documentary’s focus?
I chose the characters and their professions based on what I wanted to express in the film and the film's structure. But of course, whomever I meet is more about destiny, this is how it has always been with my work.
Something very noticeable about the documentary is that there is no dialogue. Why did you decide not to use voices?
I prefer films that are narrated purely by visual images. Films that are based on dialogues or voice-overs make the visual language redundant. I wanted to try in this film, to narrate my story with visual elements only.
Of course, I understand that each topic has its own style or expressive means, and this has to do with each filmmaker's taste and aesthetics.
You use lines from Dante’s Divine Comedy as subtitles that narrate the film. What parallels did you see with the poem and the subjects of your visual essay?
To me, to use Dante's Divine Comedy, was a concept I wanted to apply in the structure and the characters of my film. I was not attempting to exacerbate the visual elements by mixing them with Dante’s poetry; I wanted to create a simple interaction, a contrast.
It is as if what Dante wrote 800 years ago has become today a prophecy, and to me, my film is some sort of allegory or fable of the future.
Behemoth and your previous film Petition are now censored in China. How did you manage to film in the mines without raising suspicions? Does censorship of your work scare or anger you?
I was born and raised in China. I have been dealing with this reality for so many years, and have learned how to cope with reality's constraints, so I have learned how to obtain and gain access to the images I need to film.
The fact that most of my films cannot be shown publicly in China is a huge pity to me, because these films only have a meaning and value when there is an interaction with the Chinese public, my public. I also know that reality is never ideal, it is never what we expect. Even with all these constraints though, like many other independent filmmakers in China, we keep working to keep our own integrity.
Click here to book tickets to see the film at FACT from Friday 26 August.