Zhang Yang

Shower

Interviewed by David Wood

How different is the climate in China for young film makers such as yourself?

In recent years there have been new opportunities for young producers and directors in China, especially in terms of companies willing to invest. There have also been a number of American producers working in China whose methods have changed the industry a lot.

Is the bathhouse in "Shower" purely a metaphor or did it really occupy such a central place in the community?

In the past, Chinese families did not have bathing facilities. Now, of course, most do, but in the older city areas families still go to the public bathing house as it's very important in terms of the community. The bathhouse where we filmed, in the suburbs of Beijing, is a working bathhouse.

Do you feel that the dissolution of the family and community unit is inevitable in contemporary society?

I think that the progression of society does, to an extent, make this inevitable. People need to move away to find work. The cities are more highly populated and so the chance of a community forming is less likely. I personally feel that we should not allow this sense of communal spirit to disappear entirely. I also do not feel that families should be forced to stay together but there are ways of still communicating with those who may be far away.

How did it feel to work with an actor of Zhu Xu's reputation?

Actually, all three lead actors are extremely famous in China so I felt very honoured to work with them, and, to a degree, I benefited from their experience.

How do you feel a Western audience will react to the film?

The film has played at six or seven international film festivals and it's been extremely well received. I have sat with the audience in many of the screenings and have been amazed and gratified by the response.