Born in Hong Kong, Kenneth Bi graduated with honors in Theatre/Film from Brock University, Canada. He has written, acted in, and directed numerous theatre and film productions in Canada and Hong Kong. His feature film debut Rice Rhapsody won several prestigious awards. This statement is from the Film Movement press kit for his second feature, The Drummer.
"In December of 2000, I saw a performance in Hong Kong by a drumming troupe from Taiwan that changed my view of life completely. Not one word was spoken throughout the entire performance, yet they seemed to have spoken volumes. In the two and half hours of drumming, they exuded a graceful energy of inner calm that was extremely powerful. Merely a few minutes into the performance, the audience realized that they were watching men and women who have truly made sacrifices for their art.
"I learned that the troupe of twelve men and women train and practice at the top of a mountain in Taiwan. In the idyllic setting of the mountain, they practice Tai Chi, martial arts, meditation, and drumming. Initially there was no electricity, running water or transportation up the peak, so only those who were absolutely determined and committed had the mental and physical stamina to remain in the group.
"Greatly inspired and affected by their performance, I made my journey up the mountain to meet them, interview them and to witness people who were willing to take the long road in today’s world of ease and convenience. One of the drummers said, without pretension, 'If you drum for one week, you will have one week’s worth of skill. If you drum for three years, you will have three years worth of skill. There is no short cut.'
In interviewing them, I found them to be sincere, passionate and open-minded. They were a group of people with diverse backgrounds. Most were local Taiwanese and Taiwanese aborigines, a couple hailed from Malaysia, and a few came from Hong Kong. After researching their philosophies and daily routines, I began writing The Drummer. My last few scripts had been comedies and in The Drummer I found myself preoccupied in a serious subject matter.
"I began looking at different aspects of myself and how they collided with one another. The animal in me colliding with my rational self, and the philosophical thrusting against my emotional side. Which one of these aspects defines us and how do we come to terms with all our different facets? Even if we find peace in a peaceful place, it seems that nirvana is elusive and we can never truly be in a state of perfect happiness because the next trial to test us is always around the corner. The Drummer, therefore, is one such journey of self-discovery."