Fiction About Country C is a documentary about a woman who wants to conceive a second child after more than a decade’s gap. The film deals with the difficulties she faces and how different narratives emerge from her sojourn to motherhood. With Xueqing Yin’s camera, her mother becomes a spokesperson of thousands of women whose bodies have become child manufacturing machines of Patriarchy. We talk with Xueqing today to know about her experiences of making this film.
Cult Critic: Welcome to Cult Critic Xueqing! I want to first know, when did you decide that you want to make a documentary of what your mother was going through?
Xueqing:I was studying in the US in 2018 and seldom went home. One day my grandmother called me through We Chat and asked me to persuade my mom to stop having the child because my mom failed so many times through different medical treatments and her body condition got worse. Hearing my grandmother’s words, I was very concerned so I called and told my mom I didn’t support her any more for her health. And she immediately had a nervous breakdown and told me actually nobody supported her all along in China, I was the only on supported her in this child.
At that moment, I decided I should film the process of her trying to have this child.
Cult Critic: And how did your family take your decision of filming it?
Xueqing:The argument in our families of my mom’s decision last for a long time. I came back in summer 2018 and told them, I wanted to know what were the reasons behind opposite opinions. And they seemed to agree with me on filming this very quickly, because they think it was a great way for me to understand them first and then to support them. My families were very familiar and comfortable with me shooting since I always had my camera at home and make people do this or that while never showing them the final footage.
Cult Critic: Can you tell us a bit about your mother and her relation with you?
Xueqing:My mom is the greatest influencer of my life. My parents got divorced since I was 3 years old and I live with my mom and grandmother till I went to college at 18. She was a great teacher and was very strict with me when I was little. We have a loving relationship, although with my studying and now working abroad, we seemed not familiar with each other in some behaviors. But she had always been the one to support my dream no matter how stupid or crazy it is.
Cult Critic: How was the filming experience? Are you professionally trained? Was there a script?
Xueqing: The filming is more like the way of a family documentary. I don’t have a strict script but I did arrange conversations/interviews/scenes to happen. I was the only videographer and director, I made my families comfortable and keep good communication with everyone I filmed. Also I told them to never act because I want something real and more intimate, you know sometimes people will care a lot about how they look in the camera or things they shouldn’t say. I had experience with filming both in commercial and fine art from my education and working background. The only difference is we used to have a team to shoot and edit and film but this time I did independently as an experiment.
Cult Critic: You hail from a conservative country (China) and you are living in USA. Do you notice any difference in the power dynamics? Are women more powerful in USA?
Xueqing: The power is fluid under any kinds of culture, if it doesn’t show on the surface, there are other ways to release it. Of course the major philosophy of being a successful Chinese woman and American woman nowadays is still way different, but the level varies from city to city and family to family. For example, in our families I do notice woman are more powerful than other Chinese families.
Cult Critic: Since we are talking about women of different continents. I want to know your opinion on the new Abortion Bill.
Xueqing: I think people who read bible and who don’t read bible will approach the topic of Abortion from totally different places. For me, people only make decisions for their own uterus.
Cult Critic: To come back to your mother, a large section of the documentary is her dancing. Is dancing an expression of liberation to you?
Xueqing: Dancing is an obvious symbol of liberation in this film because when my mom danced I believed audience cansense her energy and body totally under her control.But I also edited between two conditions, she danced alone at home and she danced with other women in dancing class.
Dancing overall is also a simple behaviour like any social behaviours, you can dance your own music at home (your own opinion) and you will go out to dance with other people in the same music (listen to opinions from the society).
Cult Critic: You captured three generations of women in the documentary. How was the experience? And what did you learn?
Xueqing: It was very natural for me to film my grandmother in my mom’s story, because the three of us are connected I believe more than anyone else in the world. However, I didn’t notice before that how much love my mom gave to my cousin. I saw her treating my cousin like the child she wanted so I thought I had to include my cousin and it was the only way to make this film completed.
The gap of their growing-up environment no matter in economy or spiritual is huge, I was learning and trying to listen to each of them for composing the real fiction of China.
Cult Critic:And what about your stepfather? What did he contribute to the whole process of filmmaking as being the only male voice?
Xueqing: My stepfather provided the audience with important opinions out of his religion and belief. he seemed very powerful in the conversation to shortly concluded his thoughts and left for a business meeting, while he was also very struggling to make my mom to hear his “No.”
I didn’t intend to “sculpture” my stepfather into the spokesperson of Patriarchy, he was a busy and responsible man. If he was less busy I might have a bit more of his shots. Female Voice and Male voice didn’t stand opposite to each other, just they are in different volumes in different films. As we all agree, male voice was loud in a lot of films that covered up female voice in the past. So in my short film, I found it might ok to turn up the volume of female voice a little bit over male voice.
Cult Critic: Now we have come to the ending of our conversation. I would like to end by asking you on last question. What is your plans ahead? This is a hard time. So, what do you want to work on next?
Xueqing: I work and make art in New York City now. Because of the Corona Virus I have more time to edit my own film and fine art photography work. I’m recently editing another film In the Garden, which I filmed background actors in the second largest Film Studio in China. I still have two people’s stories I planned to film in NYC in near future, I don’t know where it may lead to at this moment and can only wish for the best.
Cult Critic: That was illuminating. We learned a lot. Thank you Xueqing. All the best wishes for your future endeavors!
Xueqing: It’s a pleasure to talk with you. Thank you very much.