Rain Li

 Rain Li by Max Vadukul

Rain Li, Director of Photography of the Coming Soon film « The Man with the Suitcase »

Rain Li was not destined to work in cinema. This strong girl born in Beijing, who left home at 13, as she says, “floating in the city by [herself] with anger”, did not grow up in a theatrical or artistic family. She dreamt of being a basketball player or a mathematician; she was 14 when she saw her first film, and “[she] was too busy to be in the dark underground as a kid to be interested in cinema”.

She discovered she was obsessed with light -how light can change our perception of objects, while modeling to pay for college in England, and she decided to turn this obsession into a career by expressing this fascination through photography and film: she managed to be a trainee electrician on a short film, then she became a gaffer, and that is how she gradually discovered her love for cinematography.

She would not be where she is now without this iron will. When you see her working and moving on the set, you immediately feel her strength combined with an extreme sensitivity. Rain is a self-taught artist par excellence, who has been able to find her own place as a young girl in an extremely male dominated industry, and who has learned to give herself a chance.

Rain Li on the shooting of "The Man with the Suitcase" photographed by Max Vadukul

How did she become a Director of Photography? “My very first film as a DP was a film I wrote, directed and edited because this was the only way that I could be a DP, no one else would have given me a chance.” Then, this big fan of David Lynch, Wong Kar-Wai, and Ang Li worked on “a terrible Bollywood film that no one has seen”, made a number of commercials and music videos, a fashion film for Dries Van Noten, before working in collaboration with talented directors such as Christopher Doyle, Gus Van Sant, and Jim Jarmush. The encounter with Christopher Doyle was a turning point in her career: “He has had a big influence in my work and my life as an artist. Having only met him once briefly, without him having known my work at all, he was somehow confident enough to ask me to take over his project. From there, we have collaborated on over ten projects during the past four years.”


When you ask her about “The Man with the Suitcase” on which she worked with film director Max Vadukul, you realize that her representation of the film exactly corresponds to a description you could make of her: “powerful, fluid, beautiful, and also incredibly intimate. Strong, but also soft and dreamy. A dark but beautiful fairytale.” The story of Rain Li…


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