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Berlinale

Shooting loads: director Shu Lea Cheang talks 'Fluidø'

An interview about her sexy new sci-fi film, premiering at the Berlinale and starring local figures like dominatrix Kristina Marlen, porn performer Bishop Black and techno chanteuse Aérea Negrot

Fluidø – photo by Jackielynn

Feb. 14, 2017 – The future’s bright, the future’s Berlin – unless you find yourself at a  screening of Fluidø, premiering at the Berlinale tonight. Set in 2060, artist Shu Lea Cheang’s latest sci-fi feature depicts a future liberated from AIDS – but confronted with a new set of crises in which individuals carry a mutated gene originating from the HIV virus, a gene that produces the new high-inducing drug Delta. Known as Zero-Gens, carriers are victims of a state-sponsored witch-hunt. At the same time, pharmaceutical companies are anxious to distribute the drug of the age and find ways to similarly prey on the Zero-Gens, collecting their sperm for future production. Are variously gendered bodies doomed to serve an economy in which sexual acts and bodily secretions remain subject to the logic of profit and repression in a post-AIDS world? SIEGESSÄULE contributor Riri Hylton sat down with Cheang to discuss this new dystopian offering.

How do you pronounce the name of the film?
“Fluid Zero”. It was originally called “Fluid”, as I wanted to explore body fluid, and the film actually traces back to the AIDS virus when everyone wanted to talk about patient zero, and I wanted to bring it back to this patient.

How did you go about finding the right cast constellation?


Casting took about three years. The film is totally made in Berlin. I have been associated with the queer performance community here, so I kind of know the scene, and had quite a few casting sessions. We held one in conjunction with the transmediale two years ago, and we did another casting session in conjunction with the Porn Film Festival. We were looking for diverse performers, quite gender-mixed. In our situation, there are certain people that we already know, like Marlen – we met her and we wanted her so that was decided a long time ago. But the main cast became a kind of composition, you know – you want this person with that person.


Why did you decide to set the film in Berlin?
Actually, I try not to show Berlin. The film is set in a futuristic setting. The kind of scenery I like about Berlin is actually the bunkers, and for me, this is what exists in the future. You see a lot of science fiction movies, the high buildings, but for me the future is totally the bunker, and so that was the theme.

Your work deals a lot with questions around pleasure, repression and salvation/liberation through technology. Are you hopeful about the future of technology and its ability to liberate?
The body is the final frontier, and we're going to lose it. I really feel the development of bio-technology is being controlled by corporations. I see how data codes are becoming bodily fluids. I feel that the way that bio-technology is developing is really an intervention into the human body. So that's how pessimistic I am! It's corresponding with what's happening in our real lives with data surveillance, and people using cryptology to try to avoid that. You also have a lot of DIY bio-hacking, a scene that is sort of parallel to the whole bio-technology corporation. So for me, I'm always coming more from a counter-culture. That aspect for me is hopeful.

Interview: Riri Hylton

Fluidø (dir. Shu Lea Cheang)
Feb. 14, 22:45 at CinemaxX 7
Feb. 15, 20:15 at CineStar 3
Feb. 16, 22:45 at Cubix 7 & 8
fluidthemovie.com



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