Spanish filmmaker Luis Castro presents panoramic view of modern China

02:49

Spanish artist and film director Luis Cuenca Castro unveiled his groundbreaking project about China at the CAFA (Central Academy of Fine Arts) Art Museum on March 20. The remarkable collection consists of over 300 short films which together create a captivating panorama of modern China.

Titled “CHINA 354,” this ambitious project is filmmaker Luis Castro’s visual record of China since 2019, covering a wide range of topics, from the country’s natural landscapes, cityscapes and individual stories, to historical changes and the passing of the seasons.

The exhibition space is arranged with three vertical screens at the entrance showcasing three main narratives, and 24 horizontal screens lined up in a circle, echoing the 24 solar terms on the traditional Chinese calendar.

In an interview with CGTN, the filmmaker said that from the first time he set foot in China, he immediately felt the cinematic power of the country, its cities and society. As to the name of the exhibition “China 354,” he explained: “Even Chinese people are sometimes surprised when I say ‘354.’ Everybody said, ‘It’s not 365.’ And no, every year in the lunar calendar is different. So, what makes the year unique, makes this feel unique. One of the biggest things about ‘354’ is the diversity of China, and I think three of these locations are very diverse. One is in Xinjiang, one is in Inner Mongolia, and the other is Beijing.” 

Spanish filmmaker Luis Castro presents a panoramic view of modern China in his exhibition. /Photo provided by the filmmaker

Spanish filmmaker Luis Castro presents a panoramic view of modern China in his exhibition. /Photo provided by the filmmaker

Castro’s quest to capture the heart and soul of China took him to various cities and regions, where he learned about how local people live, exploring their customs, traditions and aspirations. These experiences allowed him to form a genuine connection with the people, which is beautifully portrayed in his films.

He revealed that the most memorable thing for him throughout the process was the openness of the Chinese people themselves. And he simply encountered stories rather than setting up scenarios, so there was no room for stereotyping.

While wandering through the forest of screens, viewers are invited to dive into various landscapes, meet different people, and explore China in a truly unique way.

One visitor said that she had seen Castro’s work before, and really enjoyed the exhibition. “It offers a different perspective because if we Chinese were to film something like this, we would get different responses from the people being filmed,” she added.

Another visitor thought that Castro’s works are a mix of the familiar and the novel. “Not just a different angle, but the vicissitudes of life. And when it’s presented through short films, it feels like a parallel world. That I live my own life, while others have theirs – together it shows the China of today.”

Castro’s short film explores the bullfighting scene in southwest China’s Guizhou Province. /Photo provided by the filmmaker

Castro’s short film explores the bullfighting scene in southwest China’s Guizhou Province. /Photo provided by the filmmaker

Castro also revealed that there are certain stories in the project that he plans to explore further in the future, such as the bullfighting story in Guizhou, which he found reminiscent of Spain.

The exhibition runs until April 21.