social welfare / illegal entry / sexual trafficking
A superior, gently observed social drama, Social Worker: Ah Sze tracks the journey of a migrant girl first entering Macau to find her family, then moving on to Hong Kong. The journey takes illegal immigrant Ah Sze on a sordid path into exploitation and the sex trade. Ann HUI and writer Joyce CHAN use a careful, non-sensational approach to their protagonist's plight - one among a long line of the director's films featuring migrants - and structure the narrative with flashbacks to craft a moving work of a type rare in commercial TV.
In 1974, Ann HUI worked at the production department of Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) in Hong Kong. In 1976, she was promoted to a directing position and directed some episodes of the TV series. Social Worker is centered on a doctor who decides to become a social worker for his regret over the misfortune that happened to the people around him. The original title "Big Dipper" is a metaphor for social workers that always watch over Hongkongers. The narrative advantage of setting the main character as such is, above all, his easy access to the inequality in Hong Kong society. Comprised of 14 episodes, the series deals with many social issues such as sex trafficking, drugs, alcoholism, refugees, youth, and the medically marginalized. Episode 5, Social Worker: Ah Sze is the story of Ah Sze, a Vietnamese refugee who visits a relative in Macau, but falls into prostitution. As seen in other early TV directing works by Ann HUI, this episode also effectively portrays changes in relationships and the isolation of the protagonist thrown into the city, through camera work such as zoom-in, zoomout, and unexpected tracking shots. If you compare it with Below the Lion Rock: From Vietnam, you'll be able to observe the genderization of immigration and separation. [HWANG Miyojo]
*A blank screen will appear occasionally during the screening; these spaces previously contained advertisements as this is a film produced for TV. Please understand that this is intentional, and not a projection error.
*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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