桃姐 | A Simple Life

A Simple Life

Based on a true story, the film centres on Ah Tao, an amah who has worked for the Leung family for four generations. She lives with and takes care of Roger, a film producer who is the only member of the Leung household still living in Hong Kong. Roger returns home one day and finds Ah Tao unconscious after a stroke. Convinced she has becoming a burden, Tao resigns and moves into a retirement home. But upon her arrival, she continues to be taken care of by Roger, who realizes just how important she is to him. He decides to do his best to watch after the person who has nurtured him all his life. But Ah Tao’s health is fast deteriorating. Hui has always excelled when telling stories of everyday life. In A Simple Life, she delivers a rich and heartwarming drama that not only deals with the many abandoned old people in Hong Kong, but also exquisitely captures the unique relationship between the amah and the family for which she cares. In an age when loyalty between employers and employees is fast disappearing, A Simple Life highlights a culture that has almost ceased to exist in Hong Kong: one in which a person devotes their life to serving a family, and in return is cherished as much as any other relative.

Directed by Ann Hui | Starring : Andy Lau, Deannie Yip, Hailu Qin, Fuli Wang, Paul Chun | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, London Film Festival, Stockholm Film Festival, Dubai Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Okinawa Film Festival, Durban Film Festival, Istanbul Film Festival, Sydney Film Festival, Munich Film Festival, Portland Film Festival

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得闲炒饭 | All About Love

All About Love

A sharp and funny exploration of the complex world of adult relationships, All About Love takes a rare look at the lives of queer women and their specific challenges when it comes to creating a family. Known for her cleverly observed societal dramas, Ann Hui is one of Hong Kong’s most respected filmmakers. Here, she balances the serious themes of motherhood, sexuality and discrimination – topics rarely addressed in Hong Kong cinema – with wit, humour and compassion. Macy, a bisexual lawyer with a fear of commitment, is frustrated by the judgemental attitudes of lesbians, but wants to get back in the female dating game. Urged by her good friends and their life partners to settle down, Macy runs into Anita, an ex-girlfriend who is pregnant after a one-night stand with Mike. Macy, who is also unexpectedly pregnant with her neighbour Robert, rekindles her romance with Anita, but her fear of commitment threatens to derail their plans to start a family together. Anita is devastated when her co-workers ostracize her after discovering that she’ll be a single mother, and this intensifies her thoughts of giving up the baby. Chow, who returns to the big screen after a fourteen year absence, is radiant as Anita, developing irresistible chemistry with Sandra Ng, who brings her great comic and dramatic timing to her performance. While All About Love is structured as a commercial romantic comedy, its themes are radical in scope. By presenting queer relationships as the norm and deconstructing the idea of a nuclear family, Hui has expertly crafted a film that dispels stereotypes on what constitutes a family. Hong Kong, for all its modernity is, at its core, still extremely conservative and traditional in terms of gender roles and family values, with no civil rights for same-sex couples. Hui subtly challenges such ideas and reminds the audience that the most important aspects of any relationship are not gender and convention, but love and commitment.

Directed by Ann Hui | Starring : Sandra Ng Kwan Yue, Vivian Chow, William Chan Wai-Ting, Siu-Fai Cheung, Jo Kuk | Presented at Toronto Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival

岁月神偷 | Echoes of the Rainbow

Echoes of the Rainbow

Told through the eyes of sticky-fingered eight-year-old boy Big Ears, Echoes of the Rainbow takes place in a close-knit grassroots community in 1960s Hong Kong. Big Ears’ mother and father run the neighborhood shoe store, and his older brother Desmond  is every family’s dream son – an outstanding athlete with grades worthy of Hong Kong’s best school. Their lives aren’t always happy, but the family sticks together through all the rough times, no matter how bad it gets.

Directed by Alex Law | Starring : Simon Yam, Sandra Ng Kwan Yue, Buzz Chung, Aarif Rahman, Paul Chun | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Changchun Film Festival

天水围的夜与雾 | Night and Fog

Night and Fog

Ann Hui’s darkly realistic Night and Fog starts at the end of the story: a man murders his wife and, based on statements by unreliable witnesses, the film goes on to investigate how things could have got this far and what kind of man was able to kill his family; questions that almost inevitably remain unanswered. Night and Fog, named after Nuit et brouillard (1955), Alain Resnais’ documentary about concentration camps, looks at the difficult problem of domestic violence. An elderly man from Hong Kong takes a wife from outside the city and goes on to neglect and abuse the woman. Ann Hui’s cool registering camera is juxtaposed with flashbacks within flashbacks and dream sequences, just as in her earlier film, Song of the Exile.

Directed by Ann Hui | Starring : Jingchu Zhang, Simon Yam, Wai Keung Law, Amy Chum, Kenneth Cheung | Presented at Hong Kong Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Göteborg Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Transilvania Film Festival

男人四十 | July Rhapsody

July Rhapsody

Jacky Cheung plays Lam Yiu Kwok, a Hong Kong secondary school teacher who is facing a mid-life crisis. While he has only his pride and Chinese poetry to fall back on, his peers are successful businessmen and professionals who flaunt their extravagant lifestyles at reunion dinners. After all these years, Lam is still living in a modest apartment with his wife, Man Ching and two teenage sons. However financial stagnancy is not his only problem. An old flame of Man Ching (who was the couple’s former schoolteacher) returns to Hong Kong and uncovers old wounds. Man Ching feels obliged to help her ex-lover. Meanwhile Yiu Kwok faces another dilemma: Choy Lam, a precocious student, has a crush on him and the ‘forbidden fruit’ looks more and more tempting in the light of his wife’s ‘infidelity’. Will he succumb to young charms and let history repeat itself?

Directed by Ann Hui | Starring : Jacky Cheung, Anita Mui, Kar Yan Lam, Eric Kot, Shaun Tam | Presented at Changchun Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival, Philadelphia Film Festival

千言万语 | Ordinary Heroes

Ordinary Heroes

This film is the epitome of the social and communist movements in Hong Kong from the 1970’s to 1997. The film consists of stories about Ng Chung Yin, who was a Communist movement pioneer in the 70’s, and stories about Sow and Tung. Sow is the daughter of a family who lives on a boat and Tung is attracted to her. People tend to pay attention to economic aspects in Hong Kong. The film excellently depicts another aspect of Hong Kong.

Directed by Ann Hui | Starring : Loletta Lee, Kang-sheng Lee, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Kwan-Ho Tse, Hee Ching Paw | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival

河流 | The River

The River

Hsiao-kang shares an apartment in Taipei with his parents, but the three of them lead very separate lives. His mother works as an elevator attendant in a restaurant and is having an affair with a man who pirates porno vidotapes. Hsiao-kang is drifting through life without a job, while his father, a pensioner, pursues a solitary quest for illicit pleasures in the city’s gay saunas. As an extra in a film, Hsiao-kang plays a body adrift in the heavily polluted Tamsui River. He begins to suffer a terrible pain in his neck, but no one seems to able to cure him. In desperation, Hsiao-kang travels with his father to Taichung, to visit a faith healer. While waiting to see him, the father gets bored and decides to visit a local men’s sauna. Coincidentally, Hsiao-kang has the same idea… Life is like a river: there will always be some dark, deep, damp corners.

Directed by Ming-liang Tsai | Starring : Kang-sheng Lee, Chao-jung Chen, Shiang-chyi Chen, Yi-Ching Lu, Tien Miao | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Singapore Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, Edinburgh Film Festival, Sao Paulo Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival