June Jing Wang

playwright / screenwriter / theatre & cinema director & producer / dancer & actress

Chinese-Canadian writer and director June Jing Wang, celebrated for international collaborated filmmaking like "Perfect Baby" and “A TANGO," excels in crafting stories of resilience and compassion. Her recent work, the musical short "Dancing Tree," explores human connections through Tango and has earned an award of distinction at international film festivals.
Your project has entered in our festival. What is your project about?
"Dancing Tree" emerges as an enthralling and layered narrative, artfully interweaving diverse themes and backdrops. Within the unique matriarchal and matrilineal society of Yunnan's Women's Kingdom, we encounter April Lin, a spirited and bold spiritualist. Her odyssey takes her through the intense, traditionally male-led world of Argentine Tango, challenging her not only physically but also on a profound spiritual level. April Lin's foray into tango, a dance steeped in strong male leadership, transforms into a rebellion against these conventional roles. It becomes an avenue for her to awaken and exercise her latent leadership abilities, bringing forth an intellectual perspective on human evolution as an interplay of equal natural elements. This approach redefines tango, placing men and women on equal footing in its intricate dance steps. Interlacing myth and legend, the story suggests that April's personal journey is deeply connected to a grander, ancestral saga. This connection culminates in her metaphorical transformation into a Tree, an emblem of growth, resilience, and a profound connection to her heritage and the natural world. This transformation artistically blurs the lines between reality and myth, weaving a rich narrative tapestry that delves into cultural and gender exploration. "Dancing Tree" is more than a story; it's a celebration of personal metamorphosis,  bold challenge to traditional norms, and a beautiful testament to cultural amalgamation, all set against the backdrop of the emotionally charged and passionate Argentine Tango. This tale is a homage to embracing differences, advocating for a harmonious blending of diverse cultures and genders.
Tell us something about your shooting? What pleasantly surprised you?
I selected five scenes in the script for our trailer film, meticulously choreographing and rehearsing four. However, the final scene, where the protagonist transforms into a tree, presented significant challenges. Due to constraints in both shooting logistics and budget, we struggled to capture this complex artistic vision. As both the writer and an actress, I was acutely aware of this scene's importance and felt a deep sense of frustration and regret. Moreover, the concept of a human morphing into a tree, which carries controversial connotations in Western thought, was daunting under the pressure of limited resources. On the day of the shoot, we had a mere three hours before losing natural light, and the intricate terrain of tree roots made our planned tango steps unfeasible. Faced with these obstacles, our choreographer instructed us to improvise on the spot. The male lead and I, therefore, embarked on an impromptu creative journey. In an environment devoid of music, our interaction evolved in a void, culminating in a spontaneous, free-form tango under the tree. This unplanned 'transformation' scene, initially a source of concern for its artistic integrity, ultimately resonated deeply with our audience. Shown at a festival, the raw, unscripted choreography unexpectedly captured the viewers' hearts. They were drawn into the emotional depth and narrative of the film, overlooking its technical imperfections. This audience reaction was both surprising and deeply fulfilling. It validated that despite the absence of polished choreography and the presence of technological flaws, the essence and spirit of our story triumphed. The unforeseen success of this scene, born out of necessity and not fully prepared, became a profound source of comfort and pride for me as a creator. It underscored the power of authentic storytelling in forging a heartfelt connection with the audience.

Why should distributors buy your film?

I initially didn't anticipate that distributors would express interest in acquiring my trailers. The primary objective of the short film was to serve as a promotional tool, aimed at showcasing the story and film to attract potential investors, rather than for distribution purposes. However, this teaser film stands on its own merits. It not only completes a short story narrative but also effectively builds suspense and cinematic attractions. Additionally, it enhances the artistic experience by incorporating the visual and auditory pleasures of tango music within a musical context. As a piece of art and entertainment in its own right, I believe it would be beneficial for a distributor to consider releasing the film world widely.

How would you specify your work? What characterizes your 
Dancing Tree is best characterized by its unique fusion of storytelling and dance, specifically the intricate and passionate art of tango. Our film, in particular, stands out for its innovative approach to narrative. We've intricately woven a compelling story that unfolds through both traditional dialogue and expressive dance sequences, where each movement and gesture adds depth to the characters and advances the plot. The film's aesthetic is carefully crafted, blending vibrant visuals with a dynamic soundtrack that not only features traditional tango music but also incorporates modern elements to appeal to a contemporary audience. This blend of the old and new is a signature aspect of our work, making our film not just a viewing experience but a sensory journey. Furthermore, my commitment to authenticity in portraying the culture and art of tango is evident in every aspect of the film, from the choreography to the music and the settings. We've worked with expert dancers and musicians to ensure that each scene resonates with authenticity and passion. In summary, Dancing Tree's film is a unique cinematic experience, characterized by its blend of narrative and dance, its vibrant aesthetics, and its authentic portrayal of tango culture.

Why did you decided to become a filmmaker?

My journey into filmmaking was a natural progression from my career in journalism. As a journalist, I was deeply committed to storytelling, always seeking to uncover and convey truths in the most impactful way possible. What drew me to filmmaking was the medium's incredible power to tell stories in a visually compelling and emotionally engaging manner. Film offers a unique canvas where stories can be brought to life through imagery, sound, and performance, allowing for a deeper and more nuanced exploration of themes and narratives. My background in journalism provided me with a keen eye for detail, a sense for compelling stories, and an understanding of the human experience — all of which are invaluable in the world of filmmaking. Transitioning to filmmaking was fueled by my desire to create stories that not only inform but also move and inspire people on a deeper emotional level. The ability to craft a narrative that can visually captivate an audience, to delve into characters' lives, and to explore complex themes in a multi-dimensional way was a compelling shift from traditional journalism. In essence, my decision to become a filmmaker was driven by my passion for storytelling, my desire to connect with audiences on an emotional level, and my ambition to utilize the dynamic and rich medium of film to create lasting, meaningful impact.

Who is your role model?
My admiration for filmmakers Andrei Tarkovsky, Wes Anderson, and Yorgos Lanthimos can be attributed to several distinct yet complementary aspects of their filmmaking styles and philosophies:

• Andrei Tarkovsky: Tarkovsky is renowned for his deeply philosophical themes, spiritual and metaphysical depth, and poetic approach to cinema. His use of long takes, unconventional narrative structures, and visually stunning imagery create an immersive and contemplative experience. I appreciate cinema that not only entertains but also provokes thought and delves into profound existential questions. Tarkovsky's ability to transform film into a medium for exploring the human condition and the mysteries of life and existence could be a significant source of inspiration.

• Wes Anderson: Anderson is known for his distinctive visual and narrative style, marked by symmetrical compositions, a vivid color palette, and meticulous attention to detail. His films are often whimsical and quirky, yet underlined with a sense of melancholy and depth. This blend of visual artistry and emotional storytelling might appeal to your creative sensibilities. I admire how Anderson creates immersive worlds with a unique aesthetic, and how his storytelling balances humor with poignant themes.

• Yorgos Lanthimos: Lanthimos is celebrated for his unconventional narratives, dark humor, and the unsettling, often absurdist tone of his films. His ability to challenge viewers' perceptions and expectations with surreal, thought-provoking content particularly appeal to me Lanthimos's work stands out for its boldness in
exploring uncomfortable or taboo subjects in ways that are both intellectually stimulating and emotionally impactful. My admiration for these directors could stem from a shared appreciation for cinematic storytelling that pushes boundaries, both visually and thematically. Each of these filmmakers possesses a unique vision and an ability to convey complex ideas and emotions through the language of cinema, which aligns with a desire for films that are not just seen but deeply experienced and reflected upon.

Which movies are your favourites? Why?
• One of my all-time favourite movies is 'Stalker' by Andrei Tarkovsky. This film's profound philosophical and existential themes, combined with its hauntingly beautiful visual style, truly resonate with me. Tarkovsky's mastery in creating a meditative and introspective atmosphere through his unique cinematic language
makes 'Stalker' a captivating and deeply thought-provoking experience.

• In the realm of Wes Anderson's work, 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' stands out as a favourite. Anderson's signature symmetrical framing, vibrant color palettes, and
meticulous attention to detail are at their peak in this film. The quirky and whimsical narrative, filled with both humour and melancholy, perfectly encapsulates why I admire Anderson's unique storytelling approach.

• Yorgos Lanthimos' 'The Lobster' is a film that I hold in high regard. Its blend of dark humour with dystopian themes, and the surreal, almost absurdist storytelling, showcases Lanthimos’ ability to challenge conventional narratives. The film’s exploration of societal norms and human relationships in an unconventional manner is both intellectually stimulating and emotionally impactful.

Which topics interest you the most?
My interests primarily lie in exploring complex, often existential themes through the medium of film, particularly drawn to narratives that delve into the human condition, examining aspects like identity, morality, and the search for meaning in our lives. I appreciate stories that challenge conventional perspectives, encouraging viewers to think critically about societal norms and individual experiences. I am intrigued by the portrayal of relationships and human psychology, particularly how these dynamics are explored in unconventional and surreal ways. In summary, my interests are anchored in films and narratives that are not just visually captivating but also intellectually and emotionally stimulating, pushing the boundaries of conventional storytelling to offer a unique and profound experience.

What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career?
As a filmmaker, scriptwriter, and director, my greatest achievement lies in the art of transforming observations of life into visualized narratives, crafting characters that not only reflect our realities but also inspire and heal. The meaningfulness of creating art that resonates on a deeply personal level with audiences is profoundly fulfilling. Additionally, navigating the challenges of this demanding profession and maintaining the freedom to pursue projects that genuinely interest me has honed my resilience. This capacity to endure and thrive in the face of adversity, while staying true to my artistic vision, stands as my most significant accomplishment in life.

What do you consider most important about filming?
1. Storytelling: This is the core of filmmaking. A compelling, well-told story is essential, as it captivates and maintains the audience's interest. The power of a film largely depends on how effectively it can narrate a story that resonates with viewers.
2. Character Development: The characters are the soul of the film. Well-rounded, relatable characters can deeply engage the audience, evoking empathy and emotional investment. The audience's connection to the characters often determines their overall engagement with the film.
3. Direction: The director's vision shapes the entire film. A director not only guides the performances of the actors but also makes crucial decisions about the visual style, pacing, and tone of the film, profoundly impacting its overall effectiveness.
4. Visual Expression: As a visual medium, the way a film looks is fundamental to its impact. Cinematography, production design, and visual effects create the film's visual identity and atmosphere, significantly influencing the audience's perception and experience.
5. Editing: Editing is what ultimately brings the film together. It involves not just cutting and assembling footage but also determining the rhythm and pace of the story, which are crucial for maintaining audience engagement and delivering the narrative impact- fully.
6. Sound and Music: Often operating on a subconscious level, sound and music greatly enhance the emotional and atmospheric aspects of a film. They can transform scenes, adding depth and nuance to the storytelling.

Which film technique of shooting do you consider the best?
The "best" film technique for shooting depends heavily on the specific requirements of the project, including the story being told, the visual style desired, and the practical constraints of production. To me they are all important, there is no best to point out without specific situation, it depends what narrative and mood to be achieved.

How would you rate/What is your opinion about current filmmaking?
Current filmmaking is marked by a blend of technological advancement, increased accessibility, diversification of content and perspectives, and evolving distribution models. While this era offers unprecedented opportunities for creativity and global reach, it also presents challenges related to market saturation, maintaining originality, and adapting to rapidly changing consumer preferences and technological landscapes.

What can disappoint you in a movie?

Who supports you in your film career?