Huang Lu: An interview with the Star of Dog Days (San Fu Tian)
With a career of directing short films, filmmaker Jordan Schiele makes his feature-length debut with Dog Days (San Fu Tian), which screened at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival. Actress Huang Lu plays Lulu, an extremely demanding lead role in which her character is compelled to join forces with a love rival in order to track down her bisexual boyfriend, who has disappeared with their baby. The film takes place during an oppressively hot Chinese summer, and both the heat and circumstances of the movie can feel almost overwhelming. We sat down with Huang Lu at the festival, where she told us about how she conveyed the character’s vulnerability and sexuality, and why they had to say they were shooting a documentary if the police happened to ask.
Lulu is a strong character who has a strong sexuality in regards to the way that men see her. How did you approach this aspect of your performance?
I’m not as sexy as her! I just played her as naturally as I could. Lulu is just a small town, girl so perhaps in that small town she’s beautiful, but in the big city, maybe not so much!
There’s a scene where you confront your former lover, and then we next see you lying naked as though you’ve just slept with him. Do you think the nudity helped with the feeling of vulnerability that Lulu was experiencing?
I asked the director and he thought that they would not have made love at that point in the film. So I think they just slept together, but without sex. It was supposed to be very hot, so they were naked. But there was no making love. She was maybe not in love with him any more.
A number of the film’s key moments take place on a moving train. Was this complicated to achieve?
When we were shooting those scenes on the train, it was very difficult. We didn’t have a lot of time and we didn’t have permission to shoot on a real train during the daytime. So we had to shoot during the night when everyone else (the actual passengers) were sleeping. And the director sometimes said that if the police came, we needed to say we were shooting a documentary. And we shot for two days on the train, a real train going to Shanghai, and we also had a fake train set up to shoot some of the more difficult parts.
There’s a very intensive sequence where your character snatches a baby from his sleeping mother. How difficult was it to perform such a scene with a baby in your arms?
The baby scenes were very difficult. Very cute, but animals and babies are always the hardest part of making a movie! There were three babies that played the one role. One of the baby’s parents got angry because we were shooting for such a long time that the baby did not feel so comfortable. And the parents didn’t like that, of course. And one of the baby’s grandmothers was always there and was waiting for us to finish.
This is your second time at Berlinale. What does bringing a film to the festival mean to you as a performer?
Yeah, it’s my second time, and my first time was with a film called Blind Massage (2014). The first time I had a movie at the Berlin Film Festival, it was also at Cannes and the Venice Film Festival in the same year. The last time I was here was two years ago and it was weird and great that the film was shown at three of the biggest film festivals in one year. So now the second I come back, it’s like a cycle that has a new start. So last time it was Cannes, Venice and Berlin, and now we start in Berlin, so maybe next it will be shown at Cannes!
Read our review of San Fu Tian (Dog Days) here.
Read more of our reviews and interviews from the festival here.
For further information about Berlin Film Festival 2016 visit here.