Re-imagining Hong Kong:
Film and Identity Discourse in Post-1997 Hong Kong
July 1, 1997, Hong Kong was reverted back to China after 150 years
of British rule. As Hong Kong becomes once again part of Mainland
China, Hong Kong identity finds itself in another stage of mutation.
Nowhere is the negotiation of Hong Kong identity at present as
hotly contested as it is through films. While director Wong Kar-wai
(Chungking Express, In the Mood for Love) chose to depict
Hong Kong through a filter of nostalgia, indie film maker Fruit
Chan went the anarchic route, centering his highly politicized
narratives in the crowded housing projects and pulsing streets
of immigrants and the working classes rather than in the gleaming
high-rises of the rich and powerful. This film series, sponsored
by Mount Holyoke Colleges Asian Studies Department and the
Hong Kong students on campus, seeks to put in juxtaposition the
works of these two new wave Hong Kong directors, focusing on the
different way in which Hong Kong history and identity are being
imagined, constructed, and contested by the film industry.
February 28, 9:00pm, Dwight 101
OF BEING WILD (Directed by Wong Kar-wai)
in 1960 Hong Kong, the film chronicles Yuddys search for
his true identity. Self obsessed, Yuddy plays carelessly with
his lovers, a lonely submissive bar girl and a beautiful club
hostess/dancer and his friends, before leaving them all for the
Philippines in search of the truth that he has been denied.
(In Cantonese with English subtitles, 98 min. Hong Kong, 1990)
March 1, 9:00pm, Dwight 101
EXPRESS (Directed by Wong Kar-wai)
A Hong Kong
fast food restaurant acts as the link between two unusual stories
of police officers in love in this eccentric, stylish comedy-drama.
Director Wong Kar-Wai plays freely with traditional narrative
structure, dividing his film into two loosely connected segments.
The first centers on a depressed cop struggling to come to terms
with a recent break-up. His sad isolation is transformed when
he encounters a beautiful, mysterious femme fatale, whose involvement
with the criminal underworld proves troublesome for both. The
second story explores the odd relationship between a female restaurant
worker and another recently jilted police officer. The strange
woman decides to regularly clean and redecorate the man's apartment
in his absence, allowing the two to form a close intimacy without
meeting face to face.
(In Cantonese with English subtitles,102 min. Hong Kong, 1994)
March 2, 9:00pm, Dwight 101
TOGETHER (Directed by Wong Kar-wai)
chronicle of a stormy affair of a gay couple living as expatriates
in Buenos Aires. At the film's center is the strained romantic
relationship between two men from Hong Kong, Lai Yiu-Fai and Ho
Po-Wing. The couple travels to South America in hopes of a reconciliation,
but instead the stressful journey leads to their angry parting.
Both men choose to remain in Argentina, with the more responsible
but depressive Yiu-Fai finding work at a tango club, while the
more reckless, adventurous Po-Wing turns to a life of prostitution.
Though they each begin separate lives, the couple retains a powerful,
if reluctant, connection, and when Po-Wing falls victim to a harsh
beating, the couple reunites, though only briefly. The film focuses
almost exclusively upon the dance of alienation and togetherness
behind this tumultuous relationship.
Winner: Best Director - Cannes Film Festival 1997.
(In Cantonese with English subtitles, 98 min. Hong Kong, 1997)
March 7, 9:00pm, Skinner 202
IN HONG KONG (Directed by Fruit Chan)
reflection of working-class youth who see no future. Autumn Moon
is a petty thug grown up in the projects whose nihilistic menace
dissolves in the company of his hulking but harmless sidekick
and his hard-nosed but terminally ill girlfriend. A brush with
a schoolgirl's suicide triggers the three teenagers' own fatal
crosscurrents of insecurity, rage and desire.
Winner : Prix dor - Festival de 3 Continent de Nantes 1997.
(In Cantonese with English subtitles, 108 min. Hong Kong, 1997)
March 8, 9pm, Dwight 101
CHEUNG (Directed by Fruit Chan)
Cheung" refers both to the rambunctious boy who guides this multi-layered
tale about the ties of family and community in the inner city,
and to Hong Kong's cinematic lineagenamely opera star Tang
Wing Cheung who died in 1997. In a restless summer of delivering
takeout food, emotional trials and memorable pranks, Little Cheung
cements a bond with Ah Fan, a 9 year old illegal immigrant from
the Mainland. Director Chan elicits effortless performances from
a cast of non-professionals in an earthy, exquisitely observed
slice of contemporary Hong Kong.
Cantonese with English subtitles, 118 min. Hong Kong/Japan, 2000)
March 9, 9pm, Dwight 101
DURIAN (Directed by Fruit Chan)
the durian, the Southeast Asian "King of Fruits" renowned for
its inimitable spiked shell, creamy inside pulp and supremely
pungent odor, as a metaphor for Hong Kong's own insinuating charm.
Like its namesake's dual nature, DURIAN DURIAN is divided into
two parts. The briskly-paced first section takes place in Hong
Kong and unfolds a chance friendship forged in a Mongkok alley
between two Mainlanders: Yan, a prostitute with a relentless zeal
for making money, and Ah Fan, a young Cantonese girl and illegal
immigrant working as a dishwasher. The second, more leisurely
section follows Yan upon her return home to wintry northern China.
Here, her secretly hard-earned cash buys her status and freedom,
yet she feels estranged from her family and strangely nostalgic
for the south. An off-beat riff on the adage of "one country,
(In Cantonese and Mandarin with English subtitles, 116 min.
Hong Kong/France, 2000)