Knife in the Clear Water / Qing shui li de daozi
Director: Wang Xuebo / China / 2016 / 93 mins / Mandarin
Synopsis In the far mountains of Ningxia’s province, the old Ma Zishan and his son start mourning his wife. Loved by everyone in the village and the family, the son wants to sacrifice their only bull for her 40 days disappearance ceremony. Zishan isn’t against it, but his sorrow and his love for the old animal make him wonder. Even his prayers and the Imam don’t seem to erase his doubts. Until one morning the old bull stops eating and drinking. Has he seen the knife in the clear water?
Direction Wang Xuebo
Production Wang Xuebo, Wang Zijian, Chen Cheng, Chen Jian
Screenplay Shi Shuqing, Wang Xuebo, Ma Jinlian, Mayue
Cinematography Wang Weihua
Editing Liao Qingsong, Guo Xiaodong, Wang Xuebo
Cast Yang Shengcang, Yang Shengcang, Zhou Jinhua, Yang, Yang Xue
WANG Xuebo was born in December 1984. He started his film career as a producer, with films like Pema Tseden’s THARLO. The film Premiered in Venice in 2015 and won many awards including at Tokyo FilmEx, Golden Horse awards, APSA, Vesoul. Started in 2010, the project of KNIFE UNDER THE CLEAR WATER was completed in 2016, and is WANG Xuebo’s first feature.
KNIFE IN THE CLEAR WATER is a very unique film on the Hui people, a Chinese Muslim community. The film was completely shot in the Xihaigu area of the Ningxia province. This film is about the relationship between the people and their land. The main character is an old man who is staying in his hometown. The camera follows him, no matter how hard his environment is. This creates the tone and the rhythm of the film. I went to this region of Xihaigu in 2010. I prepared then the production for 10 months. However, the film was not shot then. It is quite difficult to finance a film on the Hui people, when your actors are non-professional. But in 2015, I successfully gathered the needed fund and shot my film.
The location where we shot the film is a difficult environmental for human beings, as there is almost no rain all year around. However, it was pouring cats and dogs the first day of shooting and the crew could not even get to the mountains. Eventually I modified the script according to the rain. And worse, on the second day of shooting it started to snow. I planned to film the snow scenes during the final phase of production, but I had no other choice than to film the end of the story on my second day of shooting.