• Mobile version
  • Follow us on Wechat
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • App

Dragon boat through the lens of an international documentary director | An interview with Nastia Tarasova

In early June, members of the 2024 Belt and Road Initiative Documentary Consortium (BriDoc) Survey Trip visited Guangzhou and watched a dragon boat race in Haizhu Wetland.

There we met Nastia Tarasova, a documentary director from Russia and a founding member of the Moscow International Documentary Film Festival. As a director who has worked in documentary for over 15 years, Tarasova is interested in exploring the feelings, lives, struggles, and joys of people in her works.

During the trip, Tarasova appeared to be a quiet watcher amidst the crowd, observing the world from a distance. Curious about her understanding of the dragon boat race, we asked her to film some clips of the event in Haizhu Wetland and present the dragon boat race through her lens.

Q: What is your impression of the dragon boat race after watching it?

I have never watched or heard of this sport before. I think it is very interesting since I have always been interested in people who engage in this kind of traditional sport. It seems to me that these people deeply love and respect their traditions, making me want to know more about this sport. It seems to me that these people are very spiritual. What is inspiring is that they are promoting this kind of game and race. Moreover, the dragon boat race is very beautiful.

Q: Can you introduce some clips that you shot of the dragon boat race?

When we watched the competition, I wanted to show more of the hands that hold the oars with close-up shots. However, I had no chance to do the close-up shot. In one of the clips, you can see a man’s hand hold the dragon boat and then release it to compete, letting it sail away. In my clips, you can also see people clap, knock, and hold their necks with their hands.

Some people hold the oars directly, sit in the boat, and compete, while others, as shown in another clip of a digital dragon boat game, compete by scratching and scrolling on the screen. The people in the game then paddle and compete as the game player scrolls his fingers.

In terms of what I filmed that day, it was more about my feeling of what stands between the old and the new, the traditional and modern China. Maybe it is not only about China but about all humans, as nowadays everybody’s life is closely related to new technologies. I have been thinking about what our hands represent nowadays and what can be shown through them. Now we still attempt to explain something and show signs with gestures. At the same time, there are new technologies that allow us to do almost everything with our hands.

Q: If you were asked to make a documentary about the dragon boat race, how would you make it?

I would be interested in the people who engage in this sport. I am interested in their contrasts. Let’s say, someone may work in an office, sitting there all day and living a very boring lifestyle in society. Then there is a huge contrast once they get on the boat, changing into another person. I would look for the reasons why people participate in and support this tradition. Yet, I will not ask them directly. I will try to show it through their daily life. What does participation in the sport give them? I believe it will be very interesting. I would look for answers to their contrasts. Why are they doing this?

Reporter | Chen Siyuan

Poster | Lulu

Video Shooting | Chen Jianing

Video Editing | Guo Hongda

Video Subtitling | Wiingheng

Editor | Olivia, Nick, James

Related News