Poet on a Business Trip
13th October 2015 6.15pm at BFI Southbank
16th October 2015 3.00pm at ICA Cinema
Poet on a Business Trip follows the 40-day journey across China’s Xinjing region by director Ju Anqui and sole actor and poet Hou Xianbo, over a decade ago. It gives the audience an opportunity to look back at a land that has undergone extensive social change subject to China’s recent rapid globalisation, modernisation and economic growth.
At its core, the film is an honest depiction of human nature, visually guiding the viewer through the dusty landscapes of Xinjiang to the depressing dives where prostitutes entertain alcoholics. As Xianbo experiences the lives of ordinary people he creates the 16 poems that form and structure the piece. The poems reflect the simplicity of these lives, of sitting round and sharing food and beer with friends. Even Anqui and Xianbo’s relationship remains unglamourised as we see the emotional toll the journey takes on their friendship. A poet’s role is to compact human nature into a chunk that affects in a small space; Anqui shows us this process through the people he meets and the landscapes he encounters, creating something that is uncomplicated yet artful.
Whilst the fact that the film is in black and white was an accident (the colours degraded in the decade it took to make), it is a perfect addition as accidental atmospheric emphasis. The poems are powerful and often funny as they show a side to Chinese culture often not portrayed. This is a wonderful, uncontrolled look at the culture of a country.
It has been said that all film narratives can be associated with seven basic plots. Poet on a Business Trip falls under The Quest, depicting a journey of discovery – a trope that has been widely used and will be used again – and though it is slightly limited, Ju Anqui manages to refresh the familiar theme through the original landscape it depicts and a unique structure founded in the medium of poetry.
Poet on a Business Trip does not have a UK release date yet.
Watch the trailer for Poet on a Business Trip here: