Editor Luodawei Xiao Sculpts the Story of those Who Sculpt a Majestic Ice World

Editor Luodawei Xiao
Editor Luodawei Xiao

You’ve never seen a place like the one presented in Ice World. This film documents the annual creation of an amusement park in China constructed each year completely out of ice. The only aspect more impressive than its creation is the lesson it illustrates regarding impermanence and what our time on this planet means. Editor Luodawei Xiao was brought aboard this production to craft moments of drama and joy cultivated during this mammoth creation. While the majesty of these manmade structures are easily transfixing, Xiao illuminated the human elements of these craftsman who experience powerful emotions during the construction process. This is a film which celebrates the people who manifest a city from ice for the enjoyment of citizens celebrating the end of the year, rather than a story solely targeted at machines and works of art. During the screening of Ice World at this year’s Asian World Film Festival, audiences were visibly moved to tears. With a tone of gratification and satisfaction, Xiao relates, “It was very moving to see the emotional impact we intended in the filmmaking process to materialize into real reactions from people who viewed it the first time and knew nothing about it beforehand. It felt like a culminating event for a lot of the hard work from myself and the rest of the team as well. We are very happy and proud that this film is a success and this unique story is able to reach people from all over the world.”

  It’s been said that everyone has a story and Ice World subscribes to this concept, focusing on the many different professionals required to manifest the Ice World Festival that has grown congruently with the population and prosperity of China. Primarily focused on the skilled laborers who endure long hours and frigid temperatures to build the works of art and amusement in the festival, this film is a powerful story of determination in service to a sense of community and family. Mr. Luodawei was specifically brought onto the production due to his work in many narrative films that espouse a sense of heart and humanity. Footage of building structures in freezing temperatures does not intuitively communicate powerful emotions but in the hands of Xiao, Ice World is visceral and organic. Editors of documentaries commonly take on the extra task of a writer who must decide what the story is and where it is going next. Xiao spent a year editing the footage, contrasting the mere two weeks it took workers to build. While Ice World is an architectural marvel, it’s the drama and humanity that are captivating in this film. The solemnity of the construction company CEO as he walks onto the frozen lake that will become Ice World, the caretaking attention workers give each other in their dormitory, the galvanizing moments such as when direct sunlight threatens to eviscerate days of construction in mere moments; these are scenes which allow audiences a conduit of affection between the real people appearing in this film and an audience.

  Xiao gives massive credit to Ice World director Bingying Qi for establishing the vision of this film. While the people and events are quite real in this story, Mr. Luodawei still sees his approach as being the same as on the numerous fictional films he has edited. He explains, “My job as an editor is mainly to bring out the more human moments in the story. I don’t find it different from narrative editing because I am still watching out for the best ‘performances’ and best pacing. It is usually a little easier because the subjects in the doc all consent to be on camera, they are not playing someone who they are not in reality. They are just telling their own stories and thoughts. The intention was to humanize the average construction workers and really highlight their contributions & spirit which make the whole thing possible. That is where my craft shines because I inherently focus on performances the most. I caught a lot of details and nuances in their behavior and put them into this film.” Proving that there is a much importance in telling a story well as in the facts of the story itself, Luodawei Xiao highlighted the warmth at the core of Ice World.

Ice World was an official selection Asian World Film Festival. It was also awarded Best Documentary at the LA Independent Film Channel and Boden International Film Festival.

Writer: Basil Thomson