THE CENTER OF THE WORLD
About The Production
Acclaimed filmmaker Wayne Wang explores the dark underpinnings of erotic fantasy and desire in his first digital video feature, The Center of the World. Aesthetically and thematically daring, The Center of the World places us inside a Las Vegas hotel room, where a young man and woman are unexpectedly brought face to face with their sexual and emotional limits. Raw and candid, the film is powered by the fearless performances of Molly Parker (Sunshine, Wonderland) and Peter Sarsgaard (Boys Don't
Cry). two highly regarded young talents whose work here confirms them as actors of uncommon acuity and intelligence.
In making The Center of the World, Wang, the award-winning director of such benchmark independent features as Smoke, Blue in the Face and Chas, Is Missing, fulfilled a long-standing desire of his own. 'I've always wanted to make a film about sex." Wang remarked. "In college, in the 1970s, I loved movies like I Was Curious Yellow and Last Tango in Paris." After obtaining his film degree, Wang returned to his native Hong Kong where he sought work at Golden Harvest, the colony's largest studio. 'They wanted me to make soft porn movies for the Japanese and Korean market; that was the way for me to start. I saw some very interesting, very artistic films made by young Asian directors. I was really intrigued. I didn't end up doing it because I got another job, but it's always been in the back of my head."
But it was contemporary American culture that crystallized the idea behind The Center of the World. Wang, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, was doing some research with a local journalist and started meeting various young
dot-commers. He discovered a surprising connection between the high-tech community and the Bay Area's many strip clubs. "I learned there was a whole subculture within the business that hangs out at strip clubs and spends a lot of money there, especially when venture capitalists take them out; a lot of business gets done there. I talked to a lot of
dot-commers and a lot of dancers from the different clubs. And from there I built this story."
He noted that America's fascination with strippers, as manifested in television shows like HBO's "G-String Divas" and VHl's "Porn to Rock" continues to grow. "What interests me," the filmmaker explained, "is the idea of buying a fantasy; that's what the whole strip world is all about. The clubs project a certain image of sexual availability and the customers buy into it and spend a lot of money, but ultimately it's all
a front. When you get to the back room, there's no touching and it's all about money. And when it comes down to it, there's no fucking. In a way, it's very clean and very moral; at the same time, they're selling the fantasy of the bad girl."
The Center of the World explores the collision between fantasy and flesh as it plays out in the adjoining hotel rooms occupied by its two main characters, Richard, a computer engineer, and Florence, a stripper. Said Wang, it's about his fantasy of her and her fantasy of selling."
Richard. a millionaire computer engineer who has recently lost his father, has withdrawn into himself and his computers. He has also lost interest in the intensely driven business of technology start-ups and
IPOs, and has done little to help facilitate the upcoming IPO that could well make him a multi-millionaire.
"He's sort of dropped out of that world," observed actor Peter Sarsgaard, who portrays Richard.
"He's not as ambitious."
With his connection to the outside world largely confined to his computer screen, Richard's perceptions of the real and the artificial have become skewed. According to Wang,
"Richard lives in a kind of fantasy world because of his relationship with computers. If you're on your computer all the time,<
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