Short Film Showcase: Before He Starts


Have you ever felt like an outside in your own city? How do you reconcile this feeling and maintain a sense of belonging and home?

This is the longest short film published on the tide so far. The short follows the life of Chinese artist Zhang Hongtu who moved to America in his late twenties.

After encountering a number of political incidents in China since 1950s, Zhang Hongtu reveals his life experience that inspired his art. This film intends to explore the relationship between art and politics, the role of Western academics and market in shaping the definition of contemporary Chinese art since the 90s. The narrative also focuses on the way Zhang rediscovers his initial pulse of being an artist after a long journey.  

Although this film was not made about the theme displacement, this feeling features heavily in this work. Zhang’s personal story as a Chinese American is equally arresting as his life story. It is an experience the filmmaker Xin Fang shares with Zhang. Both understand what it feels like to live between America and China as a resident alien or an ‘other’ within their home country. Here the exploration of displacement is more subtle.

Xin hopes the film will ask the question ‘what is our position in the world and how we can contribute more as a human being?’

By Xin Fang