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The Bund takes a starring role in documentaries for Expo 2010
2009. 13 August
by Xu Wei
(shanghaidaily.com) The Bund, famous across the world for its multinational architecture style, is considered a symbol of Shanghai and a must-see for visitors to the city.
The landmark will be again in the spotlight as a charismatic protagonist in a 90-minute documentary directed by Zhou Bing, one of China's most talented film makers.
Zhou started shooting the film last week.
Known for his highly acclaimed series "The Forbidden City" and "The Palace Museum in Taipei," the 41-year-old has a rich experience in making historical documentaries.
"However, making a film on such a magnificent and profound subject is another big challenge for me," Zhou says. "Formerly a shallow waterfront covered with reeds, the Bund has witnessed the city's great transformation and evolution to a global financial and commercial center over the past century."
The highly anticipated film has a 13-million-yuan (US$1.9 million) budget from Shanghai Media Group, a considerable investment for a domestic historical documentary.
Li Ruigang, president of SMG, says that the film is due to be released next April, ahead of the opening of the World Expo 2010 Shanghai. They will also produce a five-episode TV documentary series of the Bund.
The film tells the story of the making of the Bund: from its beginnings as a muddy foreshore to its cosmopolitan reinvention. The main focus will probably be on the vibrant years of the 1920s and 1930s when most of the Bund's monumental edifices were built as a lasting symbol of the city's passage to modernity and prosperity.
The unique buildings in Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-Classical, Beaux-Arts and Art Deco styles will be a highlight of the film.
However, the film will go far beyond the facades of the buildings and explore the fascinating historical and social context of the area and profile its many key figures and organizations.
Zhou says the film will be more than a textbook of architecture or an on-screen summary of its history.
He wants to make it more sensational and heartwarming and connect the Bund with the destinies of a few local individuals such as legendary actress and singer Zhou Xuan, Li Xianglan and novelist Eileen Chang.
Zhou says the Bund is no cold concrete cluster of buildings but a live "human figure" more than 160 years old.
"My work is to depict the bittersweet experience of the figure," he says. "The unique character of the Bund has influenced many local generations. I hope my film can evoke thoughts and responses from young people and generate resonance and inspiration deep in their hearts about history and the future."
Other impressive scenes may include the early foreign trade and shipping service at the Bund, as well as the spread of yangjingbang English (English in Shanghai accent and dialect) around the city.
Digital 3D shots
The film and the documentary series will also target the global market. They are expected to be aired on some major television channels worldwide as a tribute to the 2010 Expo.
After three months' shooting in town, the documentary crew will leave for archives in Europe and the United States to get some rare visual sequences from the early 1900s.
Zhou's team will also visit a number of celebrities and scholars in architecture, sociology, art, economy and history to comment on the Bund's unique charm and impact. Additionally, digital 3D shots, stunts and acting will be incorporated in the film to reproduce historical scenes.
Meanwhile, another documentary film to be shown during the 2010 Expo is currently in production in the city.
Jia Zhangke's "Shanghai Legend" will display Shanghai's architecture, culture and life and explore the Expo theme, "Better City, Better Life."
Zhou says it is great to see Shanghai as the focus of public attention next year. Though both are not Shanghainese, they're enchanted by the city's beauty.
"I have rented a small apartment on Kangping Road," Zhou says.
"I enjoy strolling in the neighborhood. It is an amazing city of many sides. When you walk along the causeway of the Bund, facing the high-rises on the bank, you will be awed by the city's grandeur and magnificence. But when you take a walk in the alleyways, you will be impressed by the city's tenderness and exquisite elegance."