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[Interview] – Hu Wei – ‘Butter Lamp’ – A Short Film


Posted December 31, 2014 by

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Butter Lamp has now been nominated for a 2015 Oscar! 

Film Trailer:

Butter Lamp was selected along with 9 other films in the Oscar Short Lost for Live Action Shorts, the full list can be seen here. The 10 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies:

Aya,” Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis, directors (Chasis Films)

Baghdad Messi,” Sahim Omar Kalifa, director, and Kobe Van Steenberghe, producer (a team productions)

Boogaloo and Graham,” Michael Lennox, director, and Ronan Blaney, writer (Out of Orbit)

Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak),” Hu Wei, director, and Julien Féret, producer (AMA Productions)

Carry On,” Yatao Li, director (Rochester Institute of Technology)

My Father’s Truck,” Maurício Osaki, director (Lupi Filmes)

Parvaneh,” Talkhon Hamzavi, director, and Stefan Eichenberger, producer (Zurich University of Arts)

The Phone Call,” Mat Kirkby, director, and James Lucas, writer (RSA Films)

SLR,” Stephen Fingleton, director, and Matthew James Wilkinson, producer (Stigma Films)

Summer Vacation (Chofesh Gadol),” Tal Granit and Sharon Maymon, directors (GREEN productions)

Interview With Director – ‘Hu Wei’

Director High Res Photo Wei Hu

1) To begin with, please tell us about your latest short film ‘Butter Lamp’…where did the idea come from?

The idea has existed in my mind for a long time; but it wasn’t until 2008 at the FIAC Paris when I saw Michael Nash’s photograph Warsaw 1946, that I finally decided to write the script. In this photograph, the photographer uses a backdrop with some rural scenery to mask the war ruins while shooting a portrait for a woman, in Warsaw in November of 1946. This differentiation of space presented in one photograph really impressed me and I think that is sort of a common agreement between the Western culture and the Eastern’s. After that I finished the screenplay of Butter Lamp.

2) What are your influences as a director & how did they effect the production and creation of ‘Butter Lamp’?

Frist of all, I wrote the script and selected the location where it was filmed and when we were filming I controlled the narrative structure, as well as the tempo of the film.

3) How did the production of the film unfold? Where and for how long was the shooting schedule? What types of issues did you encounter?

There were two attempts in making the film; the first time was in 2010 and the second time in 2012. The film was originally funded by CNC France and the Arte Franco-German TV network, however, in 2010 when we went to Sichuan to film it some accidents happened and we were forced to temporarily pause the project. In 2012, when we resumed the project, we faced another challenge, there was a deficit in the production fund. Luckily a local production company in Sichuan became interested in joining the project as an associate production company of the film and they assisted us in completing filming.

4) What are you hoping to achieve or convey with ‘Butter Lamp’ – are you aiming for a specific message?

I wish people would become more aware of Tibetan traditions as they are vanishing due to various reasons, after they watch this film; and at the same time, examine changes of their own cultures and traditions that are being affected by globalization and modernization.

5) The film has already won 70 various prestigious film awards – which of these are most significant? And which means the most to you?

Every award is significant and important to me.

6) ‘Butter Lamp’ was praised at Cannes Film Festival, what was it like to receive this type of acclaim?

For me, a director who has only completed three short films, it is a great honor and it motivates me to create better films in the future.

7) What is the next step for you? Do you have any other projects in production?

The next step will be another short; and I am also writing the script of my first feature film.


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Adam Snowden
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