China Diary

Day 184: A Sense Of Humour


Yesterday was the main day for us at the APSFcon in Beijing. We had two panel discussions scheduled, and a handful of interviews, so after a badly slept night I met Tero downstairs and we taxied to the venue. The weather was gray and smelt of rain, with fog engulfing the buildings in the distance as we drifted through the Sunday Beijing traffic.

As we arrived, the festival was in full spin mode. Geeks of all kind wandered around the big halls of Museum of Science, lining up for events. One thing I noticed here in Beijing compared to every other scifi conventions I’ve been is the absence of cosplay; people don’t dress up almost at all here, save very few occasions..

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Both panels were cryptically named, and turned out the moderators had been hired for both on a whim, so they didn’t know that well the topics either, but as it often is, the guests and the discussion made the event, so at the first one we spoke of science fiction in Europe and Russia – I had no idea Ukraine had such a wealth of science fiction going on, nor that Checz is active in that front as well – and debated the endless “what is the difference between fantasy and science fiction” (I ended up quoting Johanna Sinisalo, who said “fantasy is a detailed fairytale, and science fiction is a detailed fantasy”).

The second panel was well-attended. We had a handful of guests – filmmakers, scifi writers and a film festival guy – with whom we discussed cult films. The event started, though, with a video which we had made last year, paralleling the Trump speeches to Iron Sky script, which I had completely forgotten, and knowing China is not the best place for crazy political humour especially right now, I was white as a sheet when Renate lifted her right hand into a Nazi salute followed by a similar clip of Trump… But it got a huge laugh from the audience, which made me realize that yeah, Chinese people have a sense of political humour, it’s just not as common here in dinner conversations as maybe in Europe.

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We finished our visit at the first APSFcon in Beijing doing two interviews, discussing Iron Sky, the future of the franchise and crowdfunding with the journalists. Then, we escorted our asses out of the venue and headed for a quick nap at the hotel, and got ready for the evening. Max had invited us over for a dinner at a local Beijing Duck restaurant, with Mrs. Fang, Chris and also Lei being in attendance. We had a good ol’ time, enjoyed a perfectly oven-roasted duck, and exchanged stories and memories from the production. Mrs. Fang is just about to finish her job at editing the film, while Chris is working hard with the VFX, and Lei is already onboard a new project, one with 100 shooting days looming ahead of him. He looked exhausted already, poor man.

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We raised endless amounts of glasses of Chinese white wine, and eventually headed with Tero for a night cap at Moli, the whiskey bar I’ve spent so much time during pre- and post production of the film. Annoyingly, the place had a new policy, where you can’t sit at the comfy sofas unless you spend at least 600 RMB; a ridiculous system, which they even seemed to feel bad about, but instead we sat down at the bar and enjoyed a really well made whiskey sour instead.

Back at the hotel, we sat down with Tero talking a bit more; as he said to the interviewer earlier, having worked together for over ten years by now and still being able to have a beer and a good conversation means the relationship is sound and good. Although we come from very different backgrounds, we share a sense of humour which allows us to create films like Iron Sky, which I believe is the very basis of friendship: ability to share similar sense of humour. Everything else is more or less cosmetic.

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