Zhao Liang – Filmmaker – Behemoth
FRED’s Matt Micucci interviews filmmaker Zhao Liang, who presented his powerful, breathtaking documentary BEHEMOTH in the main competition of the 72nd Venice Film Festival.
He talks to us about how he sees this documentary as a kind of prophecy and mentions all the important environmental themes which he touches. He also talks about his stylistic approach and the influence from Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy.
On top of this Zhao Liang also gives a more general overview of the way in which he likes to work and the way in which he likes to construct his features, in this case by blending footage of a realistic nature with more poetic and imagined ones, which is a testimony to his interest in all of the arts, and not just filmmaking.
BEHEMOTH: Under the sun, the heavenly beauty of grasslands will soon be covered by the raging dust of mines. Facing the ashes and noises caused by heavy mining , the herdsmen have no choice but to leave as the meadow areas dwindle. In the moonlight, iron mines are brightly lit throughout the night. Workers who operate the drilling machines must stay awake. The fight is tortuous, against the machine and against themselves. Meanwhile, coal miners are busy filling trucks with coals. Wearing a coal-dust mask, they become ghost-like creatures. An endless line of trucks will transport all the coals and iron ores to the iron works. There traps another crowd of souls, being baked in hell. In the hospital, time hangs heavy on miners’ hands. After decades of breathing coal dust, death is just around the corner. They are living the reality of purgatory, but there will be no paradise.