The short version: I pee’d next to Zhang Yimou tonight.

The long version:

I went to my favorite Thai restaurant with Danny on Sunday. As we walked towards the restaurant from the T station, we passed by the Coolidge Corner theatre and I noticed that they are doing an event about Zhang Yimou this week. Having re-watched Zhang’s latest film, Hero recently, I was pretty excited.

I came home and googled for the event. A few clicked later, I got myself a ticket to see Zhang Yimou.

I got there by 7:45 (a mad dash from the office), and was greeted by possibly every single Chinese person in Boston, the place was packed

. I queued up just like everyone else and waited patiently. Next to me was this couple, Kim (Asian, short hair) and Mark (tall, white guy). Turns out they’re big fans of Chinese cinema — they love to watch kung fu movies (Mark’s impersonation of Cantonese and Mandarin is absolutely spot-on, he attributes it to watching each movie twice, once in Cantonese and once again in Mandarin)

The show started at 8:05 and didn’t end until 10. It started with a lengthy introduction by Carma Hinton, an American filmmaker who grew up in Beijing (it was odd to hear a Beijing accent in her English). Afterward, various speakers came to the podium and gave a 5 to 10 minute speech about a certain aspect of Zhang’s work.

There were various performances, in between the speeches. The first one was the usual Chinese folk dancing bit (boring), and the next one was martial arts demostration by Donnie Yen’s mom, master Bow Sim Mark. The performance itself wasn’t all that amazing, but when I realized that Master Bow must be in her 50s and she can still do a split effortlessly (some I sure can’t do), I felt pretty impressed.

During the last performance, an er-hu recital, I got up to use the restrooms. I had my camera in my shirt pocket, but I decided to leave it in my bag (a big


At the restroom, as I was washing my hands, I saw a man in a dark suit standing at the urinal. Short hair, dark suit, not especially tall. I got a glimpse of Zhang Yimou while waiting in line. That man looked like Zhang Yimou. I looked at the other Chinese man in the restroom, I mouthed to him in Mandarin: This is Movie Director Zhang?

and he replied, Yeah.

I washed my hands meticulously and slowly dried them, carefully turning my hands, elongating the process. After I walked out, I saw the woman who introduced Zhang to the ceremony. After a brief chat with her, Zhang finally came out of the restroom.

I shoke his hands and told him I’m a fan of his work. After some polite smallltalk, he was shoved back into the theater by the show’s coordinator.

Even though it was great to get to see him in person, I wish I had left my camera in my pocket. Oh well, c’est la vie.

After the show, I got to meet Richard Gordon, husband of Carma Hinton and a personal friend of Zhang Yimou. He told me he will see him tomorrow, and could get me a autograph. They are showing Hero at the Coolidge tomorrow, but it’s sold out already, but I guess I’ll still head over there tomorrow night and try my luck.

Leave a comment