Sunshine of My Life
一路瞳行 (Yat louh tuhng hahng)
Hong Kong, 2022, 96’, Cantonese
Directed by: Judy Chu
Screenplay: Judy Chu
Photography (color): Karl Tam
Editing: Alan Cheng
Art Direction: Ceci Fok
Music: Ben Cheung
Producers: Ng Kin-hung, Edmond Wong
Cast: Kara Wai (Kam Siu-hung), Hugo Ng (Chu Kwok-keung), Karena Ng (Summer Chu Tsz-yan), Angus Yeung (Ryan), Janis Chan (Ms Chan), June Lam (hawker), Florence Law (child Chu Tsz-yan), Kwok Tak-chau (Uncle Poon), Ho Yee-ming (Auntie Poon)
Date of First Release in Territory: TBA
A teenager comes to see her upbringing with blind parents in a new light in Judy Chu’s Sunshine of My Life. Chu Tsz-yan is introduced to the audience as an infant, first seen crawling dangerously around her small public-housing flat while her mother Hung (Kara Wai) is preparing food. After little Yan, who has eyesight, sustains burns from a fallen rice cooker, her hawker father Keung (Hugo Ng) is once again told by relatives that it’s not a great idea for the blind to raise a child. The parents will have none of that, however, and they double down on nurturing their daughter in a secure and positive environment.
Safety issues are addressed in part by having the little girl wear bells, and the parents have to be extra careful with everyday things like identifying medicines. As the girl grows up, her father takes her out on the street to help sell his wares, and family outings see her cheerfully reading out menus and describing the world to her parents. But as a teen things aren’t so happy for Yan (now played by Karena Ng and going by the name Summer). She’s tired of being the family helper, finds her mother’s nagging tiresome, grows uncomfortable around schoolmates, and yearns to leave Hong Kong. When her dad suddenly finds himself unemployed, the time comes for Yan to take stock of the family situation and her role in it.
Sunshine of My Life opens with a note that the film is based on real people and events, and that’s because Judy Chu herself was raised by blind parents. The project was a long-gestating one for Chu, who conceived it as a feature before resorting to self-financing a version as the 2015 short film Undernourished? after struggling to find investors. Given her family background, Chu threads into her first feature all sorts of keen observations on the lives of the visually impaired. The parents take several differing tacks in life – Dad is relaxed and happy-go-lucky, Mum can be more stern and stubborn – but both are community-minded and hold a deep-set positivity. The two roles required quality casting, and Chu achieved exactly that: in the Hung role in particular Sunshine of My Life benefits from an exquisite performance from screen veteran Kara Wai.
As it plays, Sunshine of My Life makes a repeated point with the father cheerfully shrugging off what others may think. “I don’t care, I can’t see anyone,” he quips at one instance when he risks embarrassing his wife. For her part, Judy Chu appears to have followed a similar attitude of going her own way in realising the story as a feature film. Sunshine of My Life sometimes takes predictable turns, and the straightforward approach leans more towards that of family-friendly matinee fare, not the higher levels of stylisation other first-time Hong Kong directors gun for these days. Yet with its simple sincerity and gentle warmth, Sunshine of My Life still manages to stand out, offering the audience its own heartfelt – and deeply personal – flavour of cinema.
Judy Chu graduated from the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts and started off as a theatre actress, and has also written for both the stage and film. She was the screenwriter of I Sell Love (2014), and her script Farewell the Good Old Days (2014) was selected by the Golden Horse Film Project Promotion 2014, winning the Moneff Award. Material in Chu’s short film Undernourished? (2015) was further developed in her debut feature film Sunshine of My Life (2022).
2022 – Sunshine of My Life