Movie Matters

Nicholas Quirke was more than happy with a day that revolved around film on 30 July 2020. The message from Harvey that he had been accepted at Goldsmiths for a Masters in film making started his day off well as did his exchange with Kim on the banning of Gone With the Wind as a racist film. He was meeting a young graduate of the Beijing Film Academy, which was not only one of the worlds most respected film schools but it was also where his beloved 5th generation directors Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige trained. He took the subway and then cycled 5km to the cafe which had been specially selected as it was near the Academy and in the district Lun lived in. Despite Lun’s basic English skills and Nicholas’s virtually non existent Mandarin they managed, using translator to have quite an in depth conversation about the industry, which Nicholas found illuminating. Lun had graduated that year but because of the virus he still had not completed his final piece and there would be no ceremony for his group till 2021. He also talked about the. Generations of film makers and the struggles to make a film In China that was an independent voice. Though there was no financial help from the government Films could not be released if they did not conform to the standards expected from the CCP. There were many of the country’s most respected film makers who had previously challenged the constraints, Zheng Yimou, Chen Kaige and Lou Ye, and had been banned from making films for a period of years, who now complied to the structures in place in order to keep working. He was fascinated too to learn about the ‘Generations’ tiering and how a reputation was earned. Lun shared the story and theme of the feature film he was planning and they talked extensively about Chinese films. Though they were not able to go into the Academy, which was celebrating its 70th year, due to its closure because of Covid 19, But Lun offered to walk him to the buildings and they could have a look. It was directly opposite the Yuan Relic wall which he had been to with Peng, and after he had been shown the campus, which he felt was like visiting hallowed ground, and he had posed next to the sign, they went for a walk to continue their talk. It was 2pm by the time they parted with promises to meet again and talk more about film. He felt quite pleased when Lun asked if he could call him teacher. In a day that had dwelt on movie matters it was appropriate that he should end the day with a visit to the cinema again. This time he went on his own to an old picture house close to Caishikou to see ‘The Message’ a story of espionage during the Japanese invasion. It was a gruesome and engrossing tale which he was completely involved in till a fight broke out between a couple and a young man in the same row. He had no idea what it was about but nothing would stoop them from arguing, screaming at each other and when it started to get violent, Nicholas had to go and get the cinema management to come and intervene. It was quite a drama In itself, the young, aggressive and apparently pregnant woman screaming at the other guy who to Nicholas’s horror punched her. After about 30 minutes everything finally quietened down and the film was restarted with some frustrating errors at the point it had been disturbed. Unbelievably the protagonists were allowed to return to their seats but the tensions were still present and eventually the couple left only to be followed by the young man and they rowed again in the corridor. The young man came back and continued to watch the film till after 15 minutes the lights went on again and the police came in and took him away. Finally Nicholas and the other customers were able to watch the film in peace. He cycled home and finished packing for the early start the next morning for the weekend away in Chengde. He got to speak with Harvey and congratulate him on his success and naturally their talk turned to film and it felt like a circle closing on a day dominated by movie matters.


  1. Wow. What a brilliant day. The fight in the cinema will have been very unsettling. Really fantastic news about Harvey. Does that start this September? X

  2. Congratulations to Harvey. I’m lost for words, can’t believe you witnessed that fight in the cinema but well done for filming it 😂xx

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