Far East Film Festival 20

Udine Italy April 20th/ April 28th 2018
The Film Festival For Popular Asian Cinema
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine
Wednesday, Apirl 26, time 8.00 PM

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Made In HK

An independent film in every sense of the word, Made in Hong Kong was shot on a shoestring budget in authentic locations, using non-professional actors and leftover film stock collected by director Fruit Chan while he was working as an assistant direc­tor. Completed with financial assistance from superstar Andy Lau, Chan’s film dazzled audiences and critics with its stylish, allegorical story of a doomed triad youth whose struggle for relevance rings far and true. Made in Hong Kong won Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Picture and Best Director, and is widely considered one of the first great Hong Kong films released following the 1997 handover. Made in Hong Kong is now screening at FEFF in a new 4K restoration commissioned by Udine Far East Film and carried out by Bologna-based L’Immagine Ritrovata. This is as must-see as Hong Kong cinema gets.
Autumn Moon (the wiry, perfectly cast Sam Lee) is a young, go-nowhere triad whose self-regard far outstrips his talents or accomplishments. While working as a debt collec­tor, Moon meets feisty teen Ping (Neiky Yim), who suffers from renal failure and needs a kidney transplant, though her chances of receiving one are slim. Nevertheless, Moon falls for Ping and idealistically resolves to improve himself and become her ‘saviour.’ But that goal may be futile for someone of Moon’s station and temperament. Told largely from Moon’s unreliable perspective, Made in Hong Kong openly reveals Moon’s incon­sistencies and hypocrisies, as he shows that he’s far from the hero that he idealises himself to be. And yet, as he struggles against his own marginalisation, Moon becomes someone that we recognise, and whose humanity becomes worth celebrating.
Made in Hong Kong is partially a deconstruction of the youth triad genre popularised by the Young and Dangerous film series, as it reveals Hong Kong triads to be pathetic, ridiculous people who aren’t worth lionising. But the film does more than demystify cin­ema – it speaks for the common Hong Kong resident, who lives in the same monolithic housing estate and walks the same streets as Autumn Moon. These are people whose lives are determined by things beyond their control – like, for example, the handover of the place you live from one government to another. These frustrating emotions are channelled onscreen as Moon’s restless quest to somehow matter, and Fruit Chan sup­ports this theme with subtle details, from minor mainland Chinese characters, to ironic radio broadcasts delivered in the Mandarin dialect. This is a changing world and Made in Hong Kong is very aware of it.
The film’s style possesses its own strengths. Fruit Chan owes a debt to Wong Kar-wai for his flashy visuals and postmodern lyricism, which sway audience emotions and incisively portray Moon’s inner narrative. However, style never trumps substance, as Chan allows Autumn Moon, his triumphs, and his failures to ultimately speak for themselves. Made in Hong Kong is considered the first film in Fruit Chan’s ‘Handover Trilogy’ – a loose grouping that places it thematically alongside Chan’s The Longest Summer (1998) and Little Cheung (1999) – but the film possesses themes and ideas that are universal, and carry weight no matter time or place. In the wake of recent world events, as divisions between people grow and the future seems hopelessly uncertain, the story of a nobody struggling against his powerlessness is acutely appropriate. Autumn Moon may be from Hong Kong, but as the globe has grown smaller, it’s become clear that he’s a citizen of the world. His flailing resistance is perhaps more relevant than ever.
Ross Chen (www.lovehkfilm.com)
Film director: 
Chan Fruit
Year: 
1997
Running time: 
108

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