BFI London Film Fest

Johnny Ma – To Live To Sing #LFF2019

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10 min. and 52 sec.

A portrayal of tradition’s battle against time.

Play Podcast
10 min. and 52 sec.

PODCAST | Matt Micucci interviews Johnny Ma, director of the film To Live To Sing.

To listen to the interview, click on the ► icon on the right, just above the picture

An interview with Johnny Ma, director of To Live To Sing, which was presented in the Create section of the 2019 BFI London Film Festival. This is a drama that revolves around a Sichuan Opera troupe and we ask the director to tell us more about that as well as his personal connection with it. We also ask him about the theme of family as it is portrayed in the movie, how To Live To Sing has a universal dimension despite its dealing with many traditional aspects that are specifically Chinese, and he shares with us a little of his experience about being an independent filmmaker.

To Live To Sing: Zhao Li is a woman trying to hold it all together. The Sichuan Opera troupe she manages is creating beautiful work, but it plays to a dwindling audience of the loyal elderly from the theatre’s down-at-heel neighbourhood. With the troupe consisting mainly of veteran performers, her hopes for a change in fortune rest on the shoulders of her talented niece Dan Dan. So, Zhao Li sets about putting on a show to grab the attention of a local bureaucrat who could reverse their eviction notice. For his second feature, Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Johnny Ma corrals a cast made up of real-life Sichuan Opera performers, painting this makeshift family in brightly coloured hues, and injecting humour and splashes of fantasy into this engaging tribute to the endurance of the artistic spirit.

  • Reporter
    Matt Micucci
  • Guest
    Johnny Ma
  • Interviewee role
  • Film title
    To Live To Sing
  • Festival section
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