A book about discrimination against Aids sufferers in China provided the inspiration for Chinese director Gu Changwei – who won a Silver Bear for GONG QUE/THE WOMAN at the 2005 Berlinale – to make his latest drama, a moving love story entitled MO SHU WAI ZHUAN/TIL DEATH DO US PART. Having cast two well-known actors, Zhang Ziyi and Aaron Kwok, as the leads, the director decided to cast genuine Aids patients in supporting roles. Made alongside Gu Changwei’s sumptuous melodrama, Zhao Liang’s documentary records Gu Changwei’s search for these cast members – but the resulting film is so much more than a glimpse of events behind-the-scenes.
Zhao Liang’s film portrays Aids sufferers of both genders; they are all people with very different biographies. As if it wasn’t bad enough being infected by HIV, their suffering is compounded by the fact that in the People’s Republic of China the disease is hushed up and people living with Aids are ostracised. In China, the public at large knows very little about the disease and most people associate the virus with promiscuity. This fear of discrimination forces most patients to hide the fact that they are positive.
The Aids sufferers in Zhao Liang’s film were willing to share their experiences with him. The filmmaker was able to make contact with them via internet support groups; he also visited children with Aids at a ‘red ribbon’ school; but above all, he talked to Aids sufferers during the making of Gu Changwei’s film. It is their presence which lends Changwei’s film its particular authenticity.
People's Republic of China 2011, 83 min
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