border town / satellite city / daily life / realism / social class gap
The Way We are follows the life of a widow Kwai and her son Kaon living in Tin Shui Wai, located in the northern part of Hong Kong and known locally as the 'City of Sadness' with high rate of unemployment, suicides and family violence.
In 2004, a Hong Kong man killed his Chinese wife and two daughters and then was stabbed to death in Tin Shui Wai, a newly developed area on the Hong Kong/Chinese border. Ann HUI planned to make this incident into a film, only to spend several years of preparation in vain. HUI asked producer WONG Jing, a famous Hong Kong filmmaker, about producing such a film. Instead, WONG suggested HUI make a film for TV on the Tin Shui Wai area with a budget of about 200 thousand USD. In response, HUI altered a script she had received 7 years prior about the Tsuen Wan area, and changed the backdrop to Tin Shui Wai. There are not any typical Hong Kong film elements in this film, such as star actors, neon-sign-filled downtown, gunfights, martial arts, chasing, gambling, drugs, or crimes of passion. In addition, there are not any typical arthouse film motifs either, no tragic situations and revelations. What the audiences experience throughout the film are the relationships between mother and son, their friends and relatives. These people gather and eat together while having conversations. This is the exact beauty of this film, which captures the everyday lives of Hong Kong people in a way even local people had not seen, let alone outsiders. While time goes by and country may never be the same, the virtue of this film's archiving of Hong Kong lives in 2008 will last forever. [LEE Yumi]
*No English subtitles provided
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Ann HUI was born in 1947 in Anju City, Liaoning Province, China, to a Nationalist Party clerk and a Japanese mother. Her family moved to Macau and then settled in Hong Kong. She found out her mother was Japanese when she was a teenager, as she assumed her mother spoke clumsy Cantonese because she was from another part of China. After receiving a Masters in English Literature and Comparative Literature at the University of Hong Kong, she studied filmmaking at the London Film School in UK in 1972. HUI returned from UK in 1974 and worked at the film department of Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) in Hong Kong. The TV films and dramas she produced at this time form the pre-history of Hong Kong's New Wave along with TV films from directors TSUI Hark, FONG Allen and YIM Ho. In particular, HUI dealt with social issues afflicting the lives of the middle and lower classes in Hong Kong in the series Below the Lion Rock, which was broadcast by Hong Kong's public broadcaster for decades, making her Hong Kong's leading socially-conscious film director. In 1979, she directed her first feature The Secret, a thriller that examined female oppression in traditional Chinese communities. Together with the directors who debuted around the same time, she led the New Wave era in Hong Kong. The story of Vietnamese refugees that began in From Vietnam (1978) in Below the Lion Rock was then linked to The Story of Woo Viet (1981) and Boat People (1982), completing the 'Vietnamese trilogy'. Since then, she has continued to capture the ever-evolving city of Hong Kong from her own perspective. Her filmography includes Song of the Exile (1990), which reflects on East Asian history by focusing on a mother-daughter relationship; the 'Vietnamese trilogy' which captures Hong Kong, a city of refugees and separated families; Summer Snow (1995), The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (2006), A Simple Life (2011) which reflect on the lives of middle-aged and older women in the city; The Way We are (2008), and Night and Fog (2009) which portray the ordinary lives of people in a city near the Chinese border after Hong Kong's return to China. Ann HUI has received Golden Lion award for Lifetime Achievement at Venice International Film Festival 2020.
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