Interview with Filmmaker Ziru Wang (THE HAUNTING MEMORY)

Directed by Ziru Wang
Being haunted by the memory from the Vietnam war for 50 years, Harry Tabak was determined to return to where the battle began.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I met Harry (the protagonist of this film) through another familiar friend. My friend touched on a little bit of Harry’s life to introduce him to me, and it almost sounded like a complete story arc. I talked to Harry that day, and he invited me to see his studio, which was very beautiful. I asked him whether he could be on camera, and he said maybe. One month later, we made it.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

The shooting was about three separate weekends because I needed to travel to film him and go back to school for my class. And I edited this for about two or three weeks. I finished it in May 2022.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Awareness and Consciousness.

I know these are two nouns instead of adjectives. But I found out that the reason Harry could rescue himself and manage to rebuild the memory is because of his awareness and consciousness. Without them, he might never be able to re-exam his experience and change his path to art.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

It was relatively smooth. It was only me and Harry who were involved in this film. So we became friends and let time shape our relationship in that month. I really appreciate everything Harry did for this film.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

It felt amazing to see the response from people who are new to the story. I’m glad the details I made during the filming and editing were adequate for the audience, and I’m thrilled they liked it.

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

From the first moment I talked to Harry, I knew he had a story to tell.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I majored in film for my undergrad, and my teacher asked us to watch at least 1000 films in those four years. That definitely benefits me a lot, and I can’t live without watching films right now.

So I actually watch all kinds of films; the films I like are either fiction with strong documentary aesthetics or documentaries that have beautiful narration. For instance, I love Chole Zhao’s work Songs My Brother Taught Me; The Rider; Nomad Land. And all the films Hamaguchi made, especially Happy Hour. Besides, I always admire Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritum, Michael Haneke, and Andrei Tarkovsky. Overall I think I watched more fiction than documentaries.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I would love to have more screenings and more audiences to watch my film; also, I would love to hear more professional feedback from filmmakers, editors, and producers. At the same time, I would love to know more about how to collect grants and funds for my film.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

It was pretty well, and it’s very convenient and transparent.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Mala (A Chinese spicy soup dish with all kinds of things.)
This is my favorite for this week…

11. What is next for you? A new film?

I’m currently working on a feature-length documentary about an artist couple based in New York. I’ve filmed them for ten months now, and I’ll be working on the film till next February at least. Stay tuned, guys. 🙂


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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