Filmmaker Name and Title (Director, producer, etc.):
Lorraine Price - writer/director (top photo)
Juliet Lammers – writer/director (bottom photo)
Film Name: Inside These Walls
Length of film: 44 minutes
Genre: Documentary, Drama
In 50 words or less, what’s this film about?
Wang Bingzhang, founder of the Overseas Chinese Democracy Movement, has spent the last fourteen years in a Chinese prison for the crime of political activism. Although he once abandoned them to pursue his political beliefs, his ex-wife and children campaign tirelessly for his release.
What inspired you to make this film?
Juliet: I was inspired by the complexity of the Wang family’s situation. The tenacity of Chin and her children in this difficult situation. I was interested in the loyalty they felt for a man who had abandoned them. Family relationships can be difficult: there is a love that connects us and a sense of responsibility we have to one another because of that love, but as we get older and our lives evolve, those relationships often become more complicated. It can happen for any number of reasons. I felt the Wang’s story was one that we could all relate to in our own way, the push and pull between family and self, and the question of where to draw the line. It’s a question that applies to both Dr. Wang and his family.
On a storytelling level, there were some interesting challenges that I was eager to take on. One of the primary issues was how to tell a story about a man who we would have no access to. Aside from a few media archival materials and some photographs, we had many years worth of letters and drawings that he sent from prison – it was through his words and imaginings that we got to know him. Giving voice to his letters and animating his drawings to bring him to life on screen was an exciting and new filmmaking challenge.
Lorraine: As a storyteller I am obsessed with family and in large part, it was this obsession is what inspired me throughout the making of this film. How does a family survive when their father is imprisoned unjustly for life? And if that father and husband had long ago chosen the political activism that lead to his imprisonment over his family, what then? Would the bonds of familial love and obligation hold? Should they? The Wang family has faced a choice that we all confront- how much should the individual sacrifice for the greater good? For Wang Bingzhang, the answer was clear. He was willing to sacrifice everything, even his freedom for the dream of a democratic China. For his ex-wife and children, the choice is more complex as, in a way, it was made for them. Through the Wang family's story, I wanted to explore how we remain obligated and connected to each other not only due familial bonds, but because of our shared humanity. Despite our flaws, our differences, and conflicting beliefs, there is no escaping the simple truth that we, the global family of planet earth, like the Wangs, are all in this together. As Chin says, 'If someone is drowning, you have to reach in and pull them out. You might get pulled into the water. But what can you do."
Name your Top 3 Films of All Time:
Juliet: Of all time - that’s a lot of pressure, I can’t make that kind of commitment. There are so many films that I love for such different reasons. Currently, I am interested in coming-of-age films, so I’ll go with Moonlight (amazing!) and Boyhood – I’ll go with two instead of three in order to submit this questionnaire by the deadline…
Lorraine: All time! That's hard. I can tell you the films that have been on my mind lately, how about that? I often think about Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell. Her exploration of truth/truths is a huge influence on the way I want to approach storytelling. I love Andrea Arnold's film, Fishtank for it's raw, frank delivery. And I am obsessed with Debrah Granik's Winter's Bone. The entire premise of the film stems from a character we never meet, but who is entirely responsible for the conflict facing the protagonist. I thought a lot about that film while making Inside These Walls.
What’s your connection to Mississippi? (If you don’t have one, why did you apply to a Mississippi festival?)
Juliet: I was raised on Delta Blues and the film Crossroads, but otherwise no connection. I am told Crossroads is a great festival. I wish I could be there.
Lorraine: I wish I had a direct connection to Mississippi! Does obsessively reading Huckleberry Finn as a child count?!
Anything else you want the audience to know about your film?
Juliet: This is a film about a family, but it is also about human rights, and when it comes down to it, our obligation to look out and care for one another. I hope this film raises thoughts about the greater significance of human rights and our connection to one another.
Dr. Wang is still in prison and his family is still fighting for his release.