HONG KONG, AS arguably having been the freest Chinese-speaking jurisdiction over the 20th century, has long been the bastion of artistic expression in the Sinosphere throughout this period. And there is no doubt that film is one of its strengths, as evidenced in one of its tourist traps, the Avenue of Stars.
But the culture of expression through film goes deep in Hong Kong. The Sundance Film Festival, famously hosted in the US state of Utah, is also featured here – interestingly not in the glamorous, upscale, central areas of Hong Kong Island, but 45 minutes away in the gritty industrial eastern neighbourhoods of Kowloon City, near the site of the old Kai Tak Airport. For someone who lives on the Island, it was a trek: even from the nearest MTR station, one had to take a bus.
But that didn’t take anything away from the authenticity of it. After the film – a premiere, naturally – the crew came on for Q&A. With a Cantonese translator, of course. Interestingly enough, the films are not necessarily Hong Kong produced – which makes you wonder what sort of reception a local premiere would get.
Perhaps it’s not that big – what seems to be bigger is the art of making films itself. Even students have a shot at it. There are societies dedicated to students interested in film production. Competitions are widespread. And even in public places – including on campus – stories are told on TV screens. If Hong Kong and its bustling streets are a showcase of sound, light and vision, it never fails to please in every dimension.