In the cinematic essay “Hong Se De Lian He Wu Wei Ming Xing”, or The Red Face and five stars,
the topic of face and face behaviour in chinese contemporary society is explored. A visual kaleidoscope,
an overwhelming flow of impressions a cultural approach.
Mutual intercultural understanding in a world becoming a global village gains more and more
relevance regarding harmonious co-living.
The influence of the People’s Republic of China in the areas of economy and politics requires
a confrontation with the Chinese maniére d’être, meaning the functioning of society and the way of
“Mianzi” or “lian”, two words that describe the social code of “face” in the middle-land appear
to be an utterly relevant key when it comes to an approach of understanding Chinese culture.
“The face is the most highly regarded earthly possession. It may cause murder or suicide
and can make a prestigious man out of a lampooned one.” the off voice states in the film. The
coercion to maintain face results not only from the need to maintain one’s own facade, but also to
keep the face of the whole group that the individual is necessarily always related to – in Chinese
culture the individual is always understood as part of a collective rather than standing on its own. In
a collective society like that of China, the group and its will and needs is always more relevant than
those of the individual.
HONG SE DE LIAN HE WU WEI MING XING explores, via a very unique and idiosyncratic filmic
approach, the individual experience and search for the results of face and face behaviour in
Chinese society: How does it affect the individual in its psychology and its way of living? How does
it affect the society in its inherent rules? How does it affect the functioning in a wider, more political
and global setting? The director’s voice-over leads somehow through the film, seeking to reply to
the initial question, “China, who are you?”.
The film works as a collage of different opinions and statements, putting together phrases
from interviews, scientific texts, newspaper articles and books. This rhapsodic, associative
approach is a discourse on the film-making itself.
When I started to make this film, my focus and intention were completely different. I was
full of prejudices, influenced by what I had learned about The People’s Republic of China
in western media and from western organisations. The confrontation of getting to know the
country and the people brought a turn of 180 degrees into my intention, which became to
explore the Chinese culture and society in order to find the key for understanding it and its
way of functioning when coming from a western background. The key for me turned out to
be “mianzi” or “lian”, which can be translated as “face” – meaning reputation, facade or
This film is an approach to what face is and how it works on an individual, societal and
Whilst already being totally inside the process of film-making, I realised how big and
relevant was the topic that I was dealing with and that it would be impossible to find a
universally true statement. So, I decided that this film had to be the documentation of my
very personal exploration of the topic and that the collage of different interview pieces and
different texts from scientific books and newspaper articles had to be glued together by
myself – my voice – leading through the jungle of statements. It was always important
to me that this should be a very musical film in terms of editing and composition, I always
wanted to play a lot with atmospheres created by the mere image or the mere sound. So
this piece is not only a statement of exploration of the Chinese culture but also and as well
a statement of exploration of the film medium itself.