urban development / poverty / bureaucracy / social movement
A wooden bridge cross a highway is vital to the livelihood to the local residents of a squatters' area and a housing estate. When the government suddenly announces that the wooden bridge is to be dismantled, it raises the residents' ire and leads to a series of protests. A foreign-born radio reporter covers the affair, but experiences obstruction and in the end resigns in disgust. It is not until the child of a resident is run over while crossing the highway that things begin to turn around...
This film is one of the episodes of TV show Below the Lion Rock, produced by Hong Kong's public broadcasting service RTHK, and broadcast in 1978. The film portrays the troubled dynamics among the lower classes in Hong Kong urban spaces, their representatives, and the Governmental bureaucracy, through the eyes of a British journalist. When the film opens, there is a shantytown on a hill and a road running in front of the town. What connects the shantytown with downtown is an old footbridge over the road. One day, the government put a demolition notice on the bridge, resulting in uproar among those who live in the shantytown. What is identified in the meeting are only discrepancies among villagers, government's officials, and activists from outside. The turmoil and misunderstandings continue until a tragedy happens. Although the commotion comes to a halt, nothing seems to change. The different voices from different bodies only manage to raise different demands. The audience are invited to witness this discordance via an outsider, a British journalist working in Hong Kong. Despite the frustration infused throughout the film, HUI tries to convey to audiences a snapshot of Hong Kong's fraught social issues. [LEE Yumi]
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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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