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Interview: Director Huaug Hsin-yao on ‘The Great Buddha +’ at Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema

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HollywoodChicago.com: You show how current digital technology is both our friend and enemy. How do you think constantly filming or being filmed affects human behavior?

Huaug Hsin-yao: The reason we have the dash cam footage in the film is precisely to illustrate how crazy and overdone our recording of images has become. China is developing facial recognition software for all their big cities, which leads to the observation that technology is moving faster than what we as humans can absorb. Technology is constantly moving, and there is no way for a human being to catch up.

In filmmaking previous to the digital age, there was hours spent on set to make sure a shot looked right. Now we don’t worry about that on location, we spend time tweaking the footage in post production through the digital tools.

In Chicago: Director Huaug Hsin-yao of ‘The Great Buddha +’
Photo credit: AsianPopUpCinema.org

HollywoodChicago.com: Since religion is satirized in your film, what in your experience and culture is true about the the Buddha is a towering symbol for Buddhism?

Huaug Hsin-yao: No matter if it’s Western culture and their religions or Eastern culture and religion, it all relates back to my basis for life philosophy, and that is about Taoism. In Taoism, the symbol for tai-chi is a circle, which symbolizes a human relationship with the universe.

In my point of view, religion is just a borrowing of natural rules to guide us on how to relate to the universe. We should respect the earth, and the concept of the universal rules. But instead of that, we have a world that respects a ‘Master,’ a human being, that interprets these rules through a religion.

HollywoodChicago.com: Who are your filmmaker influences? And what led to your decision to narrate your own fictional film?

Huaug Hsin-yao: I didn’t major in film studies during my undergrad years, and really only studied documentary form during my graduate years. In that exposure, I can’t really express specific director influences, except to say that my interaction with all of them integrated together in my work and created a catalyst for evolution in the quality of my work. It was the quantity of influences that equaled quality as I went along in the journey.

As far as the narration, I had done my own narration in documentaries that I produced earlier. Producer Chung Mong-Hong thought I should do it for this film, and I was hesitant. But he told me that since was my first narrative film, I should do what I want to do… there are no limitations, so I thought why not narrate.

For a complete overview and schedule of the Asian Pop-Up Cinema series for Season Six, which continues through May 16th, 2018, click here.

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2018 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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