Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hong Kong From the Bottom of a Glass – Freddie Wong's The Drunkard

Freddie Wong's debut The Drunkard, seen at this year's Hong Kong International Film Festival.

The image of the dissolute artist pursuing a bohemian lifestyle and resisting the allure of the market may not have much credence in today's rampantly commercialised culture. But if the novel The Drunkard is anything to go by, the tension between art and commerce was very real for Shanghai-born novelist Liu Yichang. His autobiographical stream-of-consciousness work tells the story of a writer living in the squalor of early 60s Hong Kong, balancing serious literary ambitions with the need to write pulp fiction and soft porn to earn a living. For not the first time a local director has produced a screen adaptation of Liu's book, which appeared at this year's Hong Kong International Film Festival.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Horror of History – Wang Bing's The Ditch

Prisoners in Wang Bing's The Ditch.

Bedraggled men sit in a seemingly empty desert landscape, the bareness of their surrounds strangely beautiful on screen. We see the group from a distance, as if the desert itself is a brooding presence observing these puny beings on its surface. The men are allocated numbers and descend into caves dug into the desert floor, where earthen “beds” carved out of the wall await them. Welcome to the world of Wang Bing's The Ditch, surely one of the most stark depictions of the deprivations of the Maoist era ever committed to celluloid.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Newsbites: Lu Qing Sees Ai Weiwei, Documentary Festival Cancelled & No Tang Wei for Mao

Ai Weiwei missing poster. Photo: stunned

This relocation business takes a lot of time! But I'm pleased to report I'm now reasonably settled in Melbourne and getting stuck in to my doctorate on China's independent documentary movement. Which means I can finally get back to some blogging. I'll shortly start rolling out some reviews of what I saw at the Hong Kong Film Festival back in March, but first a quick news update.