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Yesterday I assisted my event photographer friend, Peshean, at the 4th Annual New York Chinese Film Festival red carpet and screening of So Young. It was my first time attending a Chinese film festival. I had a lot of fun, especially getting to see actors and actresses I have watched behind the screen when I was young.

The red carpet was so hectic as all the fans swarmed around the perimeter of the red carpet. No press pass or volunteer (spelled valunteer that day :P) pass? No way of getting a good shot of any of the celebrities and board members. Finally over, everyone was escorted into the auditorium, where the fun part begins.

Like all other film festivals, the Arts Council board members and other important figures greeted us with a speech. Afterwards, all the actors, actresses and directors were invited up to speak to us.

And the new director but a childhood actress of mine, Vicki Zhao (Zhao Wei). I grew up watching her in Princess Pearl‭ ‬ءع‮/‬‭]‬‮.‬ن.ن‭. ‬It was amazing to see her in person and watch her first director debut together!  The movie she directed for the first time is titled So Young, set in the 80s she apologized to viewers if they are shocked upon the opening of film of how old and dirty China looked. She assured that’s not the case now. The first half of the film was about how the main characters meet in college (though for some reason their antics, language, behavior reminded me more of my high school life) and their promise to forever youth. It certainly brought a lot of laughter as the characters were really full of NYC escorts life and color, especially the main character Zhang Wei (whom Zhao Wei was supposed to act as but instead chose to direct, good thinking!).

It also brought a lot of reminiscence as you watch her try to capture the attention of Chen Xiaozheng (Mark Zhao). Leading to a heartbreak that had us girls tearing as it reminded of us our past heartbreaks.

After the tear jerking moment, the mood of the movie swung 180 degrees. You can see the modernization of China, as well as the development of all the characters. The change in the color tone of the film helped showcase this change (from a more warm yellow-ish tone in the beginning, which did help make it look older, to a more cold blue-ish tone also symbolizing the now serious. They lost the childish behaviors as they face reality. Won’t say anymore to give anything away, but there were so many twists that made us gasp, angry, laugh and cry. This movie really puts you through all the emotions.

Vicki Zhao did a really good job as a first time director. Some shots are so vivid and memorable in my mind; Ruan Guan crying in the train shot was so well done, as well as the scene where Zhang Wei confrots Xiaozheng in the bathroom. Both are very depressing scenes, I promise I’m not that much of a pessimist… They were just scenes that conveyed the most and strongest emotions in the movie.

I had a great time watching the film as well as photographing the event! I learned camera settings is so important during an event, I really have to learn it!!! Also, I feel bad that the lighting casted weird shadows on their faces so if you don’t catch the right angle, they loose their neck :( I felt bad most of them had jet lag so didn’t appear too cheerful, but did manage to capture their smiles and gratitude for attending. Hope to join again next year!