Through the Eyes of Yuja
Directors: Anaïs & Olivier Spiro
Distributor: C Major Entertainment
Length: 48 min.
16:9 shot in HD-Cam
© 2015, a BFMI production in co-production with SRF and Deutsche Grammophon
“Pi­an­ists have to be alone all the time, and it’s hard, it’s lonely. Be­ing a mu­si­cian is al­most like a very isol­ated life, and the only time you ac­tu­ally get to com­mu­nic­ate is on stage with mu­sic. It’s not a bad thing. I think be­ing sol­it­ary, it really al­lows us to think about life and to think about why people write this mu­sic. [...] It makes you start to won­der about things that are be­neath the sur­face.”

With more than 120 per­form­ances a year, Yuja Wang lives a no­mad­ic life­style. Trav­el­ling the world pro­fes­sion­ally, two ex­tra small trol­ley suit­cases carry the es­sen­tials for a two week trip: dresses, shoes, iPad, iPod and Smart­phone. Yuja is 27 and leads a new gen­er­a­tion of pi­an­ists who can play any­thing with com­fort thanks to their phe­nom­en­al tech­nique and strong self-con­fid­ence. For all that she stands squarely in the tra­di­tion of great pi­ano vir­tu­osi. With her shaded dy­nam­ic read­ings, she simply has more to of­fer than solely be­ing a tech­nic­al work­horse.

This film is a jour­ney with this ex­traordin­ary pi­an­ist. Be­sides the packed sched­ule, un­pre­dict­ab­il­ity is her com­pan­ion. The ex­plor­a­tion of Yuja’s wan­der­ings rev­els in con­tra­dic­tions. It is a travelogue of ex­cit­ing ven­ues, glitzy cit­ies and en­coun­ters with ex­traordin­ary artists, such as Gust­avo Du­damel, Gau­th­i­er Capuçon and Le­oni­das Kavakos and per­son­al­it­ies of oth­er pro­fes­sion­al ho­ri­zons but there is also a down­side: fa­tigue, jet lag, pres­sure, doubts, hos­til­it­ies, dis­or­i­ent­a­tion, and loneli­ness.
With a bit­ter­sweet ref­er­ence to the tran­si­ence of life, the film re­veals the in­vis­ible that com­ple­ments the vis­ible. In terms of film gram­mar the cam­era ac­com­pan­ies the trans­form­a­tions un­der­gone by Yuja as she con­fronts new real­it­ies: ali­en­a­tion and dis­lo­ca­tion each time Yuja ar­rives in a new city, im­mer­sion and in­tens­ity, fel­low hu­man be­ings and her­self. In­ter­views are cut to a min­im­um; Yuja com­ments scenes and pro­ceed­ings in the form of self-re­flect­ive mono­logues. In do­ing so, the view­er is dir­ectly ad­dressed by her at the same time. The cam­era is diving in­to an emo­tion­al state between phant­asy and real­ity. A Se­quence might be a mont­age of a city as Yuja heads to the air­port that cap­tures the feel­ing of leav­ing a place. There’s a dream­like am­bi­ance to the film re­sem­bling in cer­tain as­pects to the movie “Lost in Trans­la­tion”.

”Through the Eyes of Yuja” re­veals us this artist in a very per­son­al way, equipped with a port­able cam­era and her smart­phone the film wants to be a kind of di­git­al di­ary, a re­flec­tion of the im­age Yuja casts to the world as well as a phant­asmagor­ic­al world the dir­ect­ors tend to loom about this im­age. Yuya Wang went to Canada at the age of 14 – alone, without her par­ents. Since those days her home is where there is a pi­ano and an in­ter­net con­nec­tion. Friend­ships are fra­gile and Skype can’t com­pensate en­tirely. She rarely spends time in her New York apart­ment. Fam­ous pi­an­ists play the world: new or­ches­tras, con­duct­ors, con­cert halls, grand pi­anos again and again.
She has made this her pur­pose of life. In fact, she gets her kicks out of giv­ing con­certs. It must be this kind of joy that is prob­ably con­veyed to the audi­ence. And Yuja’s fans are le­gion in the con­cert world as well as in a world gone di­git­al. She feeds Twit­ter or You­Tube with an ap­proach shout­ing “Go ahead! Stare! And yet, the me­dia star in a screen-crazed world har­bours her secrets. Her face ex­press­ing ten­der­ness and vi­ol­ence sim­ul­tan­eously whilst play­ing sig­ni­fy the mys­tery.

The dir­ect­ors of the film, Anaïs & Olivi­er Spiro, have de­veloped a very close re­la­tion­ship to Yuja Wang, since they star­ted to work with her in 2010 at Ver­bi­er Fest­iv­al. Since then, they have com­pleted four re­cord­ings of Yuja Wang con­certs. Both have been dir­ect­ing doc­u­ment­ar­ies, re­cord­ings of op­era theatre and dance per­form­ances, live broad­casts, and film ad­apt­a­tions of op­er­as since 15 years, They also work as cine­ma­to­graph­ers and ed­it­ors on most of their films as well as in col­lab­or­a­tion with oth­er dir­ect­ors.