WANG Bing interviews book (Guarneri)

 Michael Guarneri just dropped his new book "Conversations with WANG Bing" (2024), on his interviews with the Chinese documentarian between 2014 and 2023, that you may buy online here

Here is an open letter from the interviewer to the interviewee, that Michael shared with me, for this blog :

A real human Bing, and a real hero

    Dear Wang Bing,

hello, this is Michael Guarneri, I am the annoying Italian guy who has been obsessing about little details in your films and asking you a million rambling questions throughout the years.

Your work is so important for humanity, and I know you are a very busy man, so I truly appreciate that you took the time to answer my questions, especially the stupid ones that somebody may call “blatant provocations of a foreign agent from the collective West”. I am sorry that I had to insist on certain topics, but there were things that I really wanted to understand and make other people understand. I guess I am the kind of person who just doesn’t let things go... I remember that one time we had to interrupt one of our conversations and continue on another date because you said that talking to me made you tired... I took it as a compliment because, among other things, I am a hopelessly deluded fool, but I know that it wasn’t really meant as a compliment (just like that time back in the days, I was interviewing Pedro Costa and, as question number one, I asked if I could check his birthdate on his ID... he nicknamed me “Gestapo”).

But I am wandering off, as usual... The point is that the book gathering our conversations from 2014 to 2023 is done and it will soon be released in all the coolest bookshops around the world (except China, I guess). A few weeks ago, as I looked at your portrait on the cover of the first printed copies of the book, I was reminded of an extraordinary sentence from Georges Bernanos’s novel The Diary of a Country Priest: “Nous avions l’air de nous dire adieu de loin, d’un bord à l’autre d’une route invisible...” (“We seemed to be bidding each other farewell across a distance, from one side to the other of an invisible road...”). It is this distance – this huge difference in our personal background, age, ideology, life philosophy... – that constitutes the essence of the book. You were born at the height of the violence of an evil dictatorship, I was born when evil dictatorships all over the world were shaking in fear and praying for dear life (and one of the worst ones did finally crumble, albeit only temporarily); when you were a child you were forced to attend struggle sessions and executions, when I was a child I was forced to visit my aunt; you had a technical education, I had a humanistic one, and so on... I love this book because it is a platform that allowed you and I, two people who are so utterly and irreconcilably different, to meet and discuss things, if not in total freedom at least in honesty.

I learned a lot from you, and I will use this knowledge to find my way in life and fight my battles. You know, part of my regular job consists in examining Chinese students coming over to Italy to study at the university and it just breaks my heart to see how these very intelligent young people have been twisted into submission, indifference and acritical acceptance of the status quo. I am a super-naive person but naturally I am not so naive as to think that my book about you can change the big scheme of things. Yet, as human beings learn primarily through example, I hope that I can at least introduce to the younger generations your outstanding example of being a real human being and a real hero, a person who cares about people and helps them out, a person who listens, a person who doesn’t forget, a person who gives voice to those who have been crushed into silence. Throughout the book you repeat a million times that you are not interested in politics, only in individuals living their everyday life. This is your idea and I respect it. But I must say that, in my personal opinion, being interested in the human life of the single individual in a country where the human life of the single individual has no value is the most political act of them all. I, just like many people in China and around the world, look at your work and at you as a guiding light into the darkness.

Take good care of yourself and keep up the great work!

Your friend,



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