Acknowledgments: Thank you to Gina Marchetti and the editors at Jump Cut for their valuable comments on earlier versions of this article.
1. For more information on the New Wave, see Law Kar, “An Overview of Hong Kong’s New Wave Cinema” and Hector Rodrignez, “The Emergence of the Hong Kong New Wave,” in Esther Yau, ed., At Full Speed: Hong Kong Cinema in a Borderless World. (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota Press, 2001), pp. 31–52 & 53–72. [return to page 1]
2. Tsang has worked as assistant director, location sound assistant, and production coordinator in commercial films such as Lust, Caution (2007), The Mummy 3 (2008), and Strawberry Cliff (2011). A frequent nominee and award winner at IFVA (Hong Kong Independent Short Film and Video Awards), Tsang has been recognized for several films: Lonely Planet (Silver Award, “Open Category,” 10th IFVA ), All about My Ho Chung (Special Mention, “Single-Screen-Based Interactive Media category,” 12th IFVA ), and The Life and Times of Ho Chung Village (Special Mention, “Open Category,” 15th IFVA, ). Her repeated return to the setting of Ho Chung village where she grew up suggests that she is compelled to search for her identity in her first home. The critical acclaim that her work has received demonstrates that critics and judges support alternative visions of Hong Kong based on personal experiences and observations from the margins.
Not surprisingly, in the past three years, all the Gold Awards in the “Open Category” of IFVA have been given to films that focus on issues that have been exacerbated by the social conditions in the SAR. They feature the life of the Philippine helper in Hong Kong (Homecoming by Zune Kwok, 15th IFVA, 2010), the solitary life of an old woman (This Pair by Wong Yee-mei, 16th IFVA, 2011), the problem of urbanization and the eradication of a local village (1+1 by Lai Yan-chi, 17th IFVA, 2012), and the impact of current social protest and activism on adolescents (6th March by Wong Chun, 18th IFVA). The articulation of the prevalent sense of disillusionment and the focus on issues that are rarely discussed have characterized recent independent cinema in Hong Kong.
3. A brief outline of Hong Kong’s colonial history is necessary to draw attention to the uniqueness of Ho Chung village and the liminal space it represents. Hong Kong was taken by the British in the middle of the 19th century. The southern part of the Kowloon Peninsula and Hong Kong Island with all its surrounding islands were ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Nanking in 1842. A large part of the peninsula—the New Territories—was leased to the British government in 1898 for 99 years. Long before the occupation of the British, the earliest permanent human settlements in the New Territories were villages surrounded by vast tracts of arable lands for growing rice and other crops. Under the colonial government, Sai Kung, the eastern area of the New Territories, became a recreational area for the local residents as well as a tourist attraction.
Ho Chung village is one of the oldest and largest village settlements in Sai Kung. All sides of the village with the exception of the east are slopes of undisturbed woodland. A number of streams and tributaries flow from the slopes to the lowland area. The village used to be one of the main employers of agricultural and industrial workers in Sai Kung district. Such employment has been in decline for the last two decades. Only a small portion of the agricultural land is currently under active cultivation, and much of the industry has moved out.
A strong adherence to tradition characterizes Ho Chung and its neighbouring villages. District organizations unite the various villages. The main district institution is the community temple, where the rituals Taiping Qingjiao are mounted every 10 years, drawing villagers from the surrounding region. Da jiao and its representation in the film will be discussed later.
For further information on Ho Chung village and its history, see Patrick H Hase, The Historical Heritage of Ho Chung, Pak Kong, and Shak Kok Mei, Sai Kung” (online references), Planning Department, HKSAR Government, “Pamphlets on Planning for New Territories” (online references), and Information Services Department, HKSAR Government.
4. See Jerrold Levinson, “Film Music and Narrative Agency,” Contemplating Art: Essays in Aesthetics. Oxford: Clarendon P. 2006, pp. 143-183. [return to page 2]
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