Fly Me to the Moon

European Premiere | In Competition | White Mulberry Award Candidate


Guest star:
Sasha CHUK, director


Hong Kong has always been a city of immigrants. Even though it has a strong local culture, most of its people have roots across the Guangdong region.
However, contemporary mainstream Hong Kong culture has not been kind to mainland Chinese immigrants who came to the city in the 1990s, after restrictions were relaxed.
Men are often depicted as fish-out-of-water simpletons, while women are often depicted as sex workers or feisty gold diggers. As much as they have made for some great, empathetic films, the stories of Hong Kong’s mainland Chinese diaspora have mostly been told by Hongkongers.

However, that generation of mainland immigrant children have become adults, and they can now tell their own perspective of the Hong Kong immigration experience.
Writer-director Sasha Chuk is one of those people. Her feature directorial debut Fly Me to the Moon – adapted from her own 2018 short story – is mostly a work of fiction, but its exploration of identity and roots is very much from her own life.

Chuk’s film shows 20 years of an immigrant family over three acts. In 1997, eightyear- old Lin Tsz-yuen has just moved to Hong Kong to reunite with her father, Min (a brilliant Wu Kang-ren). Not only does Yuen face the burden of being an outsider who speaks zero Cantonese, but Min is a drug addict and a thief who will spend his life in and out of prison. However, things improve when her little sister, Kuet, arrives in the city and the family is complete again. Family is the overarching theme of this section; it is the only time we visually see the Lin family in its complete form, which strengthens the sadness of its subsequent fragmentation. Chuk also emphasises the theme of family with the film’s Chinese title, “May They Be Blessed with Longevity,” which is taken from the last line of Su Shi’s Prelude to Water Melody, itself inspired by Su’s homesickness on the Moon Festival (or Mid-Autumn Festival), a day for family gatherings in Asian culture. Though Chuk doesn’t say it explicitly, the sisters’ longing for their often-distant father forms the film’s melancholic tone.

The film’s second and strongest act, set in 2007, shows the sisters’ difficult adolescence.
Eighteen-year-old Yuen (Yoyo Tse) discovers love for the first time with a boy who bears similarities to her father, while Kuet (Natalie Hsu) tries to suppress her own immigrant background as her classmates openly discriminate against an immigrant student. Meanwhile, both sisters also face the harsh reality of their father’s irreconcilable dual identity: a deadbeat junkie who also wants to be a loving father.

The theme of identity comes full circle in the third act. While Kuet (Angela Yuen) has fully assimilated into her adapted home as an activist for local land preservation, Yuen (played by Chuk herself ) prefers to spend her time overseas as a tour guide, perpetually trapped in cultural limbo. Chuk subtly pushes back against mainstream local culture’s clichéd narrative of the mainland diaspora, using the diverged lives of the sisters to show how their roots don’t define who they become as adults.

Guided by her producers – filmmakers Stanley Kwan (Centre Stage, Rouge) and Jun Li (Drifting) – Chuk also shows a confident directorial hand, employing an understated style that opts for nuance and stillness. Considering the demanding production that required Chuk to work on a limited budget (it’s a First Feature Film Initiative project, after all), film on location in Japan, coach her cast to act in Chuk’s native Hunanese dialect, and spend a considerable amount of time in front of the camera, Fly Me to the Moon is remarkable as a debut film.

Kevin Ma
Film director: Sasha CHUK
Year: 2023
Running time: 113'
Country: Hong Kong
30/04 - 4:35 PM
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine
30-04-2024 16:35 30-04-2024 18:28Europe/Rome Fly Me to the Moon Far East Film Festival Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da UdineCEC Udine