CAN | 11 minutes | 2019
Experimental drama short film by Beryl Liu, Angelina Guo
Starring Beryl Liu, Angelina Guo
Watch a scene from the film
A young woman who is lost and unwilling to let go of the past embarks on a midnight quest to Chinatown looking to turn back time to escape from the present. On this excursion she meets a mysterious woman from the past who is unbound to the rules of this reality. This elusive trickster figure crosses boundaries of time and space to whisper words of wisdom and plant seeds of hope — all the while, the young heroine desperately searches a path to her memories throughout a night of dream like illusions, swimming in the nostalgia, facing the truth of tragedy head-on and learning to let go.
CineAsian Films (CAF): What was the inspiration behind exploring a story like Rêverie 11:12?
Beryl Liu: The opportunity to do this project stemmed from my Drama & Theatre program at McGill University where I was working on a thesis project with Prof. Denis Salter regarding the Trickster Figure from Canadian Indegenious Theatre (Angelina’s character is actually deeply inspired by the mysterious but intelligent archetype of the trickster figure that makes the pinnacle of the film). As soon as Angelina and I decided to create a short from this, we came to realize that what we most connected to notions of “hope”, “time”, and “self”. With this as the central core, we knew we would be experimenting with a visual driven short (also because we both are Wong Kar Wai fans) which themes of dream, reality and time would manifest in how the film unfolds.
Angelina Guo: Beryl summarizes it pretty well. It was also our respective first times really making a short film from start to finish, so we went along with who we were, what themes were shaping our lives back then. Time is such a volatile notion, I think we had a desire to name the ambiguity of defining ourselves through past, present and future, when really all we really have is the (cheesy) moment.
CAF: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during production?
Liu: This was my first time writing, producing, acting and co-directing this film all at once – I don’t think I would ever do this again unless I learn how to split myself into four. So the biggest challenge for me was during filming when my brain was thinking about logistics and the shot-list while switching to the character. It was one of the most meaningful learning experiences for me as we all got to explore different roles through this project and it would not have been possible without Angelina being my partner-in-crime through it all. We both got quite lucky and were so supported by a team of creatives to help carry out our vision to life so shoutout to: Joy our producer, Norman Who and Eddie Cai our cinematographer, Edward Dai our composer & sound designer, and Linda Li our production assistant! (all are amazing asian creatives themselves!)
Guo: I’m in full agreement with Beryl, I don’t think it’s a good idea to wear so many hats at once. It was incredibly fun to be working together on such a big project, but the more you spread yourself out, the more quality you may lose in the final product. Still, I have such fond memories from the shoot, and working with Beryl, who is also a close friend, has always and continues to be a meaningful process. Nevertheless, hands-on experience is the best learning tool when it comes to film, so all the “mistakes” we made turned out to be formative lessons.
CAF: The dream sequence scene reminds us so much of the opening scene of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s 2001 film, Millennium Mambo. What were some films that served as visual inspirations for Rêverie 11:12?
Liu: It is so interesting that you all point out because when we were putting together our visual board, that opening scene was certainly one of our inspirations! This sequence was the last shot we filmed and took about 12 takes. Despite being midnight, everyone was super supportive take after take and I had so much fun (not my shoulders though) trying to film it with a steadicam.
Guo: It’s true! Actually, the whole colour palette and atmosphere in Millenium Mambo is something I was moved by. Otherwise, Wing Shya’s photobook “Shanghai” was a huge inspiration for us too. He was Wong Kar Wai’s set photographer, and you can really see how serendipitously their styles mesh together in the final product and how well they worked together as a team.
CAF: Are you working on anything new right now?
Liu: For me, I am currently focusing on completing my thesis on the actor-character relationship for my graduate program at NYU Gallatin remotely. Despite the pandemic halting our abilities to be together in-person to create – which I dearly miss – I have come to realize the power of today’s technology that allows me to network and connect with film friends around the world. This year, I have met so many fellow filmmakers online and have hosted a few panels to discuss our creative process that wouldn’t have had the opportunity to otherwise. Despite not being able to be on set, I deeply believe that there is so much potential for us young creatives to explore innovative possibilities for collaboration. But also I’ve deeply learned the power of resilience and reflected that it is okay that we are not running at 100x speed as we used to push ourselves to be. Rather than taking this time to work and read about our craft and take care of ourselves.
Guo: Film-wise, I’m not working on anything specific right now. I’ve been focusing on hosting panels related to mental health in the Asian community and conducting interviews with Asian-Canadian artists. Otherwise, I’ve been writing lots of poems and journaling. I think this year has been a great opportunity to slow down and rest, and we shouldn’t feel guilty about taking more time for ourselves. Taking time can also mean, like Beryl said, to improve some of our skills, as long as it gives us joy.
Rêverie 11:12 is one of the many great projects shared with CineAsian Films through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them, submit your film.
Directors, Writers, Producers: Beryl Liu, Angelina Guo
Producer: Joy Han
Cinematographer: Eddie Cai
Composer, Sound designer: Edward Dai