Five Inspirations is a series in which we ask directors to share five things that shaped and informed their film. Cathy Yan's Dead Pigs is exclusively showing on MUBI starting February 12, 2021 in the Debuts series.
Wu Ping and the Chongqing Nailhouse
This was one of the first examples of the "nailhouse" phenomenon in China, of a homeowner standing her ground, resisting demolition. That image of her house marooned within a huge construction ditch was seared into my mind for many years until it finally became Candy's house in Dead Pigs. Candy is also very much an homage to the homeowner, Wu Ping, who became this media darling, and her vibrant aesthetic and fiery personality.
Li Wei photography
I discovered the artist Li Wei's photography and found it so compelling and so encapsulating of the spirit, the fantasy and the context of Dead Pigs.
Weng Fen photography
Similarly, Wang Fen's photography has such a sense of isolation amidst the vastness of society vs individual, countryside vs city that felt right for Dead Pigs.
Hu Yang's book Shanghai Living
This was a huge inspiration for the production design of the film, especially all the living spaces. I wanted them to feel authentic and lived in.
Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia and Robert Altman's Nashville
The ambitious cinematic tradition of this type of ensemble film was deeply inspiring to Dead Pigs, in format, in tone and even the musical numbers.