Twenty years ago, Wu Yu came to Shenzhen with his dream. As he earned RMB 300 a month by huckstering unmarketable beverage with his bike under the burning sun, he never expected to be a billionaire.
For many “rich people” in Shenzhen, their paths to wealth two decades ago was nothing more than smuggling, stock market and real estate market speculation. Wu Yu followed a similar path. A decade ago when he was penniless in Shenzhen, he made a killing in the then unregulated Chinese stock market. Later he turned to the property industry, in which he became a billionaire very quickly.
He said, “In China, I will not do unlawful things, but I will never be a law-abiding citizen. Violator of law will be imprisoned, while law-abiding doesn’t make any money.”
He became rich, well known in Shenzhen’s business circles, and served on the board of a famous university. But now he began to miss his literary ideal during his early years. He wanted to break away from a “sheer businessman”, get involved in cultural investment, and seek some self-esteem in being a “literate person”. He chose to invest in low-budget films and operate a “clean” KTV.
On April 8 of this year, the 43rd birthday of Wu Yu, a film he invested in became the opening film at Tianjin Location of China University Film Festival. However, the applause of students was apparently not for him, as the actors and actresses were the stars. As the investor to this film, Wu Yu left without being noticed to follow up on contacts for film distribution.
The “clean” KTV with an investment of more than ten million RMB was opened, but the financial reality made Wu Yu give up his cleanness in half a year. He compromised, and his cultural ideal failed in real social environment in the end.
Bright and overconfident, Wu Yu is always proud of his judgment. However, he missed a fantastic opportunity in the bull market last year, despite his past successes playing the stocks.
He got drunk once. With tears, Wu Yu told the director, “Peng Hui, now I’m rich, but I have no root, I float in Shenzhen, just like duckweed.”
Honors and prizes: Outstanding Achievement of 20 Years of China Television Golden Eagle Award, 10-year Special Achievement in China’s Television Documentary, Top 100 TV Art Workers of China, Top 100 Press Workers of China, Top 10 TV Art Workers of Sichuan, and Top 10 Excellent Youths of Chengdu.
Titles and positions: vice secretary-general to Documentary Film Committee of China Television Artists Association, vice secretary-general to Documentary Film Committee of China Broadcasting and Television Association, and Class-II Director of China. Besides, Peng Hui also receives special subsidies from the government in recognition of his achievements.
Since his engagement in creating television programs, Peng Hui has won more than 80 international and national prizes with his 32 works, including 12 international prizes and 8 domestic ones. His representative works including BALANCE, HOLLOW MOUNTAIN, and PACKBASKET CINEMA were selected in international film and television festivals in France, Hungary, Italy, Canada, United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Four of his works were collected by the Taipei Film Archive and The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
From The Director
On the evening of 28 April 2007, Wu Yu was in Beijing on his way to Canada, while I was in Shenzhen to pack up my luggage and equipment, ready to return to Chengdu.
The phone rang, and Wu Yu’s voice was a little bit anxious: “Peng Hui, I feel the name DUCKWEED is not so good, sounds like I’m a roving part-time worker.”
“So what’s your suggestion?”
“ZHI LIU, what’s the meaning?”
“An intellectual gets roguish!”
I forced a smile, but refused it. Recently intellectuals are getting zealous to be roguish and some of them are just pursuing a fad. Moreover, the phase of ZHI LIU is too obscure and may be difficult for both intellectuals and rogues to understand, making it unsuitable as a film name.
As we know, duckweed is a plant living in water. Its life, fluctuating or calm, all depends on the motion of water. It seems rootless and weak, but in fact it is very strong; it can always rapidly adapt itself to changes in water and the surrounding environment, always surviving, growing stronger.
While floating in Shenzhen, Wu Yu never stops self-correction and adapting to a competing environment in order to survive.
His root is not in Shenzhen, but he is very robust. I decided not to rename the film.
※Award Top 10 Chinese best documentary, 2007
※The 20th FIPA International Festival of Audiovisual Programs, FIPATEL, 2008