Lone Existence

- CHINA / 2016 / Chinese / Color / Blu-ray / 77 min

Director, Photography, Editing, Source: Sha Qing

For years he has lived behind a closed door, never leaving his home or talking to anyone. The only thing keeping him going is the will to scrutinize with his camera the lives of strangers, on whom his hidden, hiding self may be projected. Can he obtain spiritual freedom through the dreamlike images of these people going about their daily lives? As this film’s creator, director Sha Qing (Wellspring, YIDFF 2003) interrogates the very source of the act of observing others, and the self.

[Director’s Statement] Twelve years ago, while preparing to make a new film, I felt deeply unsettled. Was I going to make a film documenting others again, while hiding my self? And if not, when it comes to expressing my self, what was considered appropriate? How could I prevent it from becoming just a portrayal of my personal life?

I started roaming around looking for clues. In the lens of the camera I began to observe the faces that had mesmerized me over the years. Their simple, wooden, almost naked, lives lay bare before me. In my imagination, I would enter their dark homes with them, trying to surmise what the bright moments in their lives that helped them get through their long days were. Because I never trusted language, or perhaps simply out of shyness, I had never really bothered to find out.

Six years later, I put together my observations of other people into a film. However, that unsettling feeling did not dissipate. This is why I felt my work was unfinished.

A few years later, I felt like I was hitting rock bottom. I had never felt like this. But that was precisely when life revealed its extraordinary power. I managed to come back from the brink and gain a new lease on life. I was filled with the courage and energy I had desired for so long.

As I began working on my film again, all those questions that had plagued me before and I had never really delved into began to resurface. And my awakening came as I began to look at the signs and words of encouragement left to us by philosophers and sages of the past. I finally realized that finding the self, together with the manifestation of the other, could make the desire to reveal the essence of life possible.

- Sha Qing

Born in Beijing, 1965. Started out in filmmaking as a sound recordist and editor on a number of documentaries, finishing his debut film Wellspring in 2002, which won the Ogawa Shinsuke Prize at YIDFF 2003 New Asian Currents and the SRG SSR Idée Suisse Award at the 2004 Visions du Réel. Lone Existence is redeveloped from an earlier film, Fading Reflections, completed in 2010.