American filmmaker Maya E. Rudolph. Photos Provided to China Daily
"There are filmmakers in China who are operating outside the lines and operating literally independently," she says. "They are, of their own initiative, going somewhere with a camera to tell a story that other people aren't paying attention to."
What disheartens Rudolph most are the weak distribution platforms for these films, whether in China or the US.
"You get used to doing a Q&A for these screening events where there are, like, 10 people," Rudolph says. "It's incredibly discouraging because these are really vital stories, and these are really talented filmmakers."
Nevertheless, Rudolph forges on with her own directorial debut.
After writing a script that she hoped would capture the spirit of the Beijing rock scene that has so transfixed her, Rudolph presented it to her friends at the Beijing-based production company So Uncool Entertainment. They gave her the green light.
Encouraged, Rudolph applied for grants and secured enough support from the Four Oaks Foundation to finance a short version of the planned feature film, Iceberg. That event, she says, marked "when it started to become real".
"I'd known for a while that I was interested in creating some sort of film project that had emphasis on this (Beijing) music scene, but I was and am extremely wary," the director says. "The challenge of doing something that's not like, 'Guess what, world, they have guitars in China!' is very important to me."
According to Rudolph, Iceberg is a universal story, but set in a specific time and place.
"In all the conversations I had among the actors, musicians and crewmembers, we all wanted this film to be a representation of a world that we know," she says. "This world is important to us, where people listen to this particular kind of music, drink this kind of beer and think about these certain kinds of thoughts."
Of course, Rudolph acknowledged, people from all over the world hang out and go to rock shows, but there's something about the flavor of Beijing's rock music scene that you can't find anywhere else.
The community is so small that one can see "how the people in it are evolving", Rudolph says.