Hong Ying's debut film 'Moonlight Warrior' wins over Bangladeshis

Hong Ying
Well-known writer and filmmaker Hong Ying's "Moonlight Warrior" was among the 17 Chinese movies to be screened at the 22nd Dhaka International Film Festival.
Hong Ying

Editor's note:

Since the 2nd century BC, the Silk Road has been an active Eurasian commerce route and a conduit for cultural exchanges between civilizations. The Mogao Caves are an example of "silk ties," where architecture, painting, music, and other creative forms interact to create some of the finest works of art spanning 2,000 years.

The Belt and Road Initiative has built high-speed railways, hydropower plants, and highways, enabling artists and intellectuals from diverse cultures to share ideas, learn from one another, and collaborate.

At the 2018 Shanghai International Film Festival, the Belt and Road Film Week and Alliance was launched with 48 nations and 55 film festival institutions as members.

This is a column about these "eye-opening" cultural exchanges.

Hong Ying's debut film 'Moonlight Warrior' wins over Bangladeshis
Ti Gong

The 22nd Dhaka International Film Festival, a Belt and Road Film Festival Alliance member, screened 17 Chinese films, including Hong Ying's "Moonlight Warrior."

Rabindranath Tagore, my favorite Asian poet, writes in the South Asian language Bengali, and I copied some of his verses into my notebook.

Writing is an individual effort; making movies requires a team to work together, which can be challenging, particularly for the director and producer.

As a writer venturing into filmmaking, I expected it to be challenging to produce and direct my first film, but it was even more difficult than I had anticipated. It's no surprise that many filmmakers call it worse than death.

Making a film and getting it screened internationally is even more difficult. "Moonlight Warrior," my first directorial effort and a coming-of-age narrative set in Chongqing, was one of 17 Chinese films chosen by the Shanghai International Film Festival and the Chinese Embassy in Bangladesh to compete in the Dhaka International Film Festival.

Hong Ying's debut film 'Moonlight Warrior' wins over Bangladeshis
Ti Gong

Hong Ying shares filmmaking experience in Dhaka.

We had a tight and well-organized itinerary that included trips to local sights, universities, and museums, as well as visits to RTV and Deepo TV. We had lunch at Deepo TV's studio and exchanged ideas with folks working on films and television.

The opening ceremony for the festival's "Wide Angle" segment was conducted at Bangladesh's National Museum. Over 300 participants took part, including the Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh, Yao Wen; the Minister of Social Welfare of Bangladesh, Dipu Moni; the Cultural Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Bangladesh, Le Liwen; and local film creators and fans.

In his speech, the ambassador stated that this is a watershed moment in the history of China-Bangladesh film collaborations, as it also marks the 50th anniversary of the two countries' diplomatic relations.

Cinema will be one of the centerpieces of China's expanded collaboration with Bangladesh.

Hong Ying's debut film 'Moonlight Warrior' wins over Bangladeshis
Ti Gong

Hong Ying (on stage, right) and other filmmakers talk to the local media.

The following morning, I gave a talk at a theater about the importance of scripts. The script is the most crucial part of filmmaking.

In the afternoon, the festival expanded to include a special event at the national museum where Chinese filmmakers could interact with journalists. I discussed the challenges of filmmaking and my festival experiences.

Overall, local media and spectators showed interest in Chinese films, China, and the city of Chongqing, the setting of my film. Several teenagers expressed a desire to visit China, particularly Chongqing, after watching "Moonlight Warrior." Certain feelings are just universal.

They also asked us what we expected from their film festival. The fact that such a beautiful country has conducted a high-quality film festival for so many years means a lot to me. My sole suggestion was to improve the projection equipment to something like Xiaomi's professional ones. It's not a desire to endorse Chinese products; rather, as filmmakers, we all strive for the optimal presentation of our films.

It was exciting to see so many posters of movies I liked before the festival's start, but I was only able to watch one Indian film and was unable to finish it before attending the Wide Angle Unit's launch.

Dhaka is known for its traffic jams. Some people must work in cars. But it also boasts excellent cuisine and wonderful people. Their bright eyes illuminate my heart as well.

Even at night, the buildings outside my hotel window are under construction, reminding me of China in the 1980s and 1990s. Dhaka is under construction; I hope to return in the future to see how it has shaped since my last visit here.

(The author is a well-known writer and poet whose directorial debut, "Moonlight Warrior," based on her novel, premiered in 2023 and won numerous awards.)

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