Hong Kong films are a record of the territory’s changes and capture the essence of the city’s culture…

 

Memories and fantasia

Every Hongkonger has their own unique memory of local cinema.

Perhaps a touching love story between a scholar and a beauty; or a tale of an average Joe that has the audience howling with laughter; brilliantly choreographed fight scenes and the tough man’s tenderness in a kungfu film; or a martial arts film that depicts the complexity of love and hate in a sword fighting world as well as the nobleness and tenderheartedness in the shadow of the sword. The varied spectrum of local films leaves different impressions on different viewers.

At the end of the 19th century when film was newly invented, Hong Kong was an important port of entry for European and American films wishing to gain an audience in China. With a history of over 100 years, from a pioneering era to the development of Cantonese and Mandarin films, and later the flourishing of kungfu and comedy movies, Hong Kong’s film industry has added a thick and colourful stroke to the development of the global film industry.

Star-studded and talent-filled, the Hollywood of the Orient sparkles on its own merits with Hong Kong filmmakers and artistes, who are vigorously creating and surpassing one classic after another. Every April, on the momentous occasion of the Hong Kong Film Awards Presentation Ceremony, one can get a glimpse of our local filmmakers’ and artistes’ dauntless advancement as well as their dedication and conscientiousness. At the grand gala show marking the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China in June this year, the audience was treated to an opportunity to watch a rerun of some iconic scenes from local films and to pay tribute to Hong Kong cinema which has become a cultural icon of the city as well as a familiar friend who accompanies Hong Kong people on life’s journey…

A glimpse at Hong Kong films at the airport

What creative sparks would be unleased from the seemingly unlikely pairing of the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) and HKBU’s Academy of Film (AF)?

People going through the airport may have seen and been fascinated by a current exhibition which is presented in the form of enlarged filmstrips. At the open entrance in the Arrivals Hall of Terminal 1, there is an eye-catching giant clapboard clearly displaying the exhibition theme—Cinema Fantasia Hong Kong. 

This is the first time the Academy has co-organised an exhibition with the Airport Authority. Cinema Fantasia Hong Kong is one of the highlights of the Art, Culture and Music at the Airport 2017 event. 

The exhibition showcases the development of the Hong Kong film industry, covering crucial areas, from the history of Hong Kong cinema to memorable moments behind the scenes, as well as the development of film education in Hong Kong led by AF. There is also a showcase of AF’s events, programmes and achievements including a videocast of select scenes from award-winning films by AF students as well as a display of the Hong Kong Film Awards trophies presented to Weeds on Fire in 2017. There are also special exhibits featuring the creative works of veteran photographer Jupiter Wong and poster designer Yuen Tai-yung. For a relatively small venue, there is a surprisingly huge amount of memorabilia and information on the local film industry spanning a century.

The entire exhibition, ingeniously designed with an exquisite configuration, embodies the strict professionalism and creative romance of Hong Kong filmmakers and artistes through the unique elements of film such as sound, light and images as well as physical objects and props, and also the use of cleverly scripted dialogue. The exhibition takes the viewer, whether he is a fan of Hong Kong films, a visitor to the city or a local resident, through a century-long journey that gives the feeling of being in a lingering dream. Staying at the exhibition venue even for a short while, one can notice the diversity of visitors it attracts—people from all age groups and with varying skin tones. There, every one of them shares a common platform for identifying his/her own connection to Hong Kong films.

Producing filmmakers 

On Hong Kong’s film education, the contributions of HKBU’s AF could never be overlooked. The Sing Tao Building at Ho Sin Hang Campus, once the headquarters of AF, had been a place where an uncountable number of HKBU filmmakers began to chase their dreams.

Advancing with unrelenting efforts over the past four decades, from the launch of the very first local film- and video-production programme in the 1970s to the setting up of the Department of Cinema and Television in 1991 and the establishment of AF, the first film school in Hong Kong, in 2009, AF has developed into the major provider of cinema, television and media education in Hong Kong. Alumni such as Stanley Kwan, director of Rouge, a feminine film that cast him into the international spotlight; Felix Chong, a scriptwriter/director who scooped a handful of Hong Kong Film Awards for the film series Infernal Affairs; as well as Steve Chan, a director of the new generation, who shone in the production of his debut movie Weeds on Fire, are the pride of AF. A considerable number of well-known film directors and production experts often conduct classes and share their hands-on experience in film and television production with AF students.

With a high-calibre faculty, state-of-the-art facilities, well-designed programmes and strong industry connections, AF is dedicated to providing its students with professional training and room for practice and creativity.

An AF alumnus/alumna says, “When I was studying in AF, I felt totally immersed in the entire film sector of Hong Kong. Those around me were either directors, scriptwriters, film critics, or producers. We had Johnnie To, Ann Hui or their peers as guest speakers. Sometimes, our teachers would give lessons at exhibition venues or make arrangements for the whole class to attend Film Festival talks. My fellow classmates and I were in AF to pursue a sacred dream in the world of films.”