VENICE (Reuters) – Vivian Qu hopes her new film “Angels Wear White” (“Jia Nian Hua”) will generate a discussion on sex education and child protection in her home country, the Chinese director said at the Venice film festival on Friday.
Qu, whose directorial debut “Trap Street” (“Shuiyin jie”) premiered to critical acclaim at the festival in 2013, is back in Venice to present her latest project.
“We are trying to tell educators it’s important to (educate about sex) at an early age because children need to learn how to protect themselves because the parents are not necessarily always around,” Qu told Reuters in an interview.
“Angels Wear White” is set in a seafront town, where two young girls are assaulted in a motel by a middle-aged man.
The only witness is receptionist Mia, played by Wen Qi, who is only a few years older than the girls. As news of the assault spread, the hotel’s managers try to cover up the evidence.
Mia, worried she may lose her job, says nothing, and with few adults to turn to, both her and Wen have to find their own way out of their troubles.
Qu said she drew inspiration for the film from real life.
It pained her to think that justice often was not served or came too late for the victims, she said.
Making a movie on such a sensitive topic with a young, non-professional actress presented its own challenges, she added.
Qu spent two months training her young star Zhou Meijun on weekends when the girl was out of school. Zhou was not aware of the full plot and was given the scenes only gradually.
“She didn’t understand, she was very young and very pure. So, we only gave her scene by scene,” Qu said.
“We focused more on her relationship with her parents because that’s also how the film was and because those are the things that she could understand,” she added.
Qu is the only female director in the festival’s main competition this year and, while acknowledging the difficulties female film makers face, Qu said she believed it was more important to encourage women to get into the industry rather than opt for quotas.
“Any serious film makers would not want to be selected only because she is female, we want to be selected as good film makers, we make equally good films,” she said.
The 74th Venice film festival runs until Saturday, when the winner of the coveted Golden Lion award will be revealed.
Editing by Alison Williams