This week I interview the subject of the recent Norwegian documentary Hunting down Memory, a man simply known as Wind.
HUNTING DOWN MEMORY (2009)
Directed by Thomas Lien
Norwegian with English Subtitles
Released by CCV AS
On the whole documentaries are not my thing. I’ll take a fiction narrative over a documentary any day of the week, but at a party last May, I had the pleasure of meeting Wind. Upon hearing of my budding career in the film festival world, he gave me a screener copy of the documentary of which he was the subject, Hunting Down Memory.
I happily took the DVD as I’ll never say no to a free film, but didn’t think too much about it afterwards. That is until I actually popped the DVD into the machine and discovered Wind’s amazing story of a man who over the years has had to rebuild his identity after experiencing amnesia while on a trip in China.
The documentary follows Wind as he travels through China to try and piece together what happened to him. While the travel portion was fascinating, for me the really interesting part of the documentary was watching how Wind deals with the very real psychological affects of having to start your life from scratch (i.e. not knowing who your mom is).
Wind currently runs Cosmic Wind Cultural Collaborations in Norway. It’s a cultural center (and will soon be an artist residence) that aims to bring people from around the world together to create art. After hounding this very busy man through email, Wind kindly agreed to let me interview him for Friday Film Review.
Stephanie Laughlin: How did this documentary about your experience come together? Were you immediately interested in it or was something the filmmakers had to convince you to be apart of?
Wind: In 2005 I asked my filmmaker friend Thomas if he’d be interested in doing some filming in China. He knew my story and strategically wove my story into what he was filming and suddenly we had a film that was mostly about me, which was not my intention in the beginning.
SL: What was the experience like playing detective to try and piece together your own life?
W: The process of the getting to know myself actually ending up being quite amazing. I had to understand really what memory loss is, before I could understand what I was piecing together. It was a gradual process. Even though people talked about my amnesia everyday, I didn’t really understand what had happened to me. I know feel like I do.
SL: What’s it like to have relationships with people where they have so many more memories of your time together than you?
W: They have their memories and I have mine. I can’t relate to theirs anymore so I have to be happy with mine.
SL: Explain how Cosmic Wind Cultural Collaborations came to be and how it’s affected your life
W: After getting back to China in 2002 I started playing gigs at different events, singing Chinese songs that no foreigners played. I quickly got many music jobs, invited to TV shows. I became a semi-celebrity in the province of Guangxi. I started working with other musicians and artists and wrote the script for a music-drama collaboration project. Wind, blowing in all directions, seemed to me as a good metaphor to describe projects where many people with different cultural and artist backgrounds work together. We’ve had people from five continents participating in our projects, be it music, dance, theater, multi-media, poetry, circus-art, visual artsâ€¦
SL: What are your plans for the future?
W: I’m quite certain that I’ll keep on working with collaboration activities. Getting people together for mutual learning, tolerance and respect.