Leung Ping-Kwan - Poet and Chair Professor of Comparative Literature, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Hong Kong film production has a history of over 90 years, as long as that in Mainland China. It shared a lot of similarities with Chinese cinema in the early days in its diverse trends in political commitment as well as in entertainment, in addition to a local interest in producing films in the Cantonese dialect and adaptations from the popular Cantonese opera. But since 1949, after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, a great number of people, which amounted to a million within a few years, moved from the mainland to Hong Kong. Among the immigrants were a number of film makers, including renowned directors such as Fei Mu, or film tycoons such as Run Run Shaw who later came to Hong Kong via Singapore and set up the Shaw Bros. Company in Hong Kong. They brought with them the experiences and finance to contribute to the further development of Hong Kong cinema, and at the same time brought in new conflicts in ideologies between the left and the right, as well as in the rural and urban sensibilities, and produced films that would be unique among other Chinese communities. This talk will look at one specific characteristics of Hong Kong cinema, that of its link to the development of urban culture, from the early 1950s to the present. It will continue with some of the main arguments from the article “Urban Cinema and the Cultural Identity of Hong Kong”, but will re-examine them in the overview of Hong Kong culture’s history, and move further to a discussion of the cinema made in the post-handover period (from 1997 to the present), to continue to examine not only how the city has been represented in the films, but also the role of cinema in shaping the urban imaginary (or contesting with other bodies of knowledge in forming public views of the city) in a period of anxiety, self-doubt, with nostalgia of the past while embarking on a transition towards an uncertain future. Recent works by Wong Kar-wai, Derek Yee Dung-shing, Fruit Chan, as well as the “Infernal Affairs” series by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak will be examined.