YIDFF 2003 New Asian Currents
Three-Five People
An Interview with Li Lin

I Kept Filming Them Because of My Filmmaker’s Conscience

Q: What compelled you to get involved with filming the children to the point of endangering your own life?

LL: Once I understood they were victims of exploitation, I simply could not ignore them. I had the idea of wanting to capture the underbelly of human beings, so when I saw them from the viewpoint of a filmmaker, it was impossible to ignore them. My conscience as a filmmaker wouldn’t tolerate anything else. Nighttime was extremely frightening, waiting for them at the garbage dump, and when they’d return after going to get drugs and getting beaten up. But even so, I’d listen to myself saying that I was filming a movie and continue shooting.

Q: It seems like most of the adults who are in their world take a disinterested stance.

LL: The biggest difference between those people and myself was that I had a camera. And also that I’m presently living abroad. There was no way I could turn away from children being left in that kind of situation. I the period China is in right now, maybe it is difficult to think about other people. Just living in that society is extremely difficult.

Q: If it’s okay, could you tell us what’s happened to them, and about the sequel to the film?

LL: I put Three-Five People and the sequel together as one piece, and it has already been aired in Australia on ABC-TV. I reunited with them at the same spot a year later. Chen Li (the girl) is infected with HIV. Naturally I thought the two boys who shared needles were in danger of being infected, so I took them to a hospital for a test. The result was positive. The symptoms haven’t appeared yet, but eventually they will get sick, and it’s inevitable that they’ll die. The problem is that they aren’t getting any kind of medical treatment whatsoever. And the police and other people have no knowledge about HIV. Because of this film, I looked into whether Chinese law offers any protection for children. Of course there is something on the books, but it is not enforced. The most painful thing is that they are beaten. They are beaten by the police, people they steal from, and in the end it indicates that the law is not functioning. Children are abandoned in the present situation, just as they are. I feel sorry not only for the children, but the adults living there are pitiful too, and even more, my own country itself is sad. Of course it’s the country where I was born, and it’s all the more sorrowful being my own country that I love. I’d like to ask people who view this film to remember the things conveyed through the film that I saw and felt. And I hope that this film is screened in China as well.

(Compiled by Endo Akiko)

Interviewers: Endo Akiko, Hayashishita Sayo / Interpreter: Saito Shinko
Photography: Sato Akari / Video: Oki Chieko / 2003-10-11