New York, Meet Beijing

I walked into Williamsburg’s Ran Tea House to see Beijing’s Carsick Cars play live and caught a sneak preview of the art film “Iceberg.” As the projector hummed softly, the familiar smoggy Beijing skies melded into vivid technicolor of the underground Beijing music world. Captured on film, D-22, the now-defunct iconic venue that used to stand in the college district Wudaokou, was just as I had remembered—grungy, loud and teeming with excitement.


“Iceberg” is a short narrative film about a drummer in a Beijing rock band named Nova, who is falling in love for the first time and preparing for her first U.S. music festival performance. The film is et in pre-Olympics Beijing before the city experienced an intensive period of transformation, and the underlining message that propels the storyline is that “nothing will ever be the same” after this summer. Although fictional, the film features a cast and crew of musicians from the Beijing and Shanghai rock scene, such as Little Punk, Wang Xu (The Gar, White+), Zhou Nairen (Birdstriking, Skip Skip Ben Ben). I interviewed the filmmaker Maya E. Rudolph to learn more about her life in New York and Beijing, and her upcoming film.


NYC-APs: Could you tell me about your background?

MR: I grew up in Southern Maine, in a very small town where I felt very attracted to experiences beyond my borders. I ended up going to Barnard College in New York. After a year of college, I decided to take time off from school and go to Beijing. That was in 2006. Just from scratch, I discovered the city and what my role in it could possibly be. I pieced together a life very gradually.

  maya Filmmaker Maya E. Rudolph on set. Photo: courtesy of the artist

NYC-APs: What came next for you?

MR: I went back to school, inevitably, but wanted to maintain my relationship to China. I started learning about this boom of Chinese rock music. The soundtrack to my college years [in New York] was Carsick Cars and all of these bands that came to mean something special to me. I studied Film and Literature. I graduated in 2009 and it was a terrible time—to get a job or find an apartment in New York. So I said, I’ll just go to Beijing for a couple months. I ended up staying for two and a half years.


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