CULTURE

The three distinct periods of Hong Kong New Wave

One of the world’s most prolific producers of films after Hollywood and Bollywood, and birthplace of the action-packed martial arts adventures of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, Hong Kong is the subject of a week-long tribute at the Greek Film Archive that starts tomorrow. Highlighting the multifaceted character of the cinema of this culturally diverse region, the tribute is organized in three parts, each representing a different period of the Hong Kong New Wave. Tsui Hark was born in 1950 into a family of Chinese immigrants in Saigon, spent some of his formative years in Hong Kong and studied film in Texas, before moving to New York and then back to Hong Kong. By the 1980s, Hark was censored by the British colonial government for his third feature, «Dangerous Encounters: 1st Kind,» and became identified with the New Wave, before going on to become a major producer and action director. The Athens tribute to his work comprises the first two parts of his genre-blending saga «Once Upon a Time in China» trilogy from the early 1990s, his epic «Seven Swords» from 2005 and the retro-musical «Shanghai Blues» from 1984, inspired by Chinese and American slapstick comedies of the 1930s and 40s. Wong Kar-wai – who has been the subject of numerous tributes in Greece as well as a retrospective at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival in the past – is represented with the Argentina-set homosexual love story «Happy Together» from 1997, the futuristic ode to Hong Kong before the 1997 transference of sovereignty back to China «2046» and the gastronomic romance «In the Mood for Love» from 1999, as well as his first America-set film, «My Blueberry Nights» from 2007. Representing the so-called third generation of the Hongkonger New Wave, or the postcolonial period, are four filmmakers who address issues of identity. Johnnie To (born 1955) is best known for contemporary gangster noir. In his 2008 «Sparrow,» which was nominated for a Golden Bear in Berlin, he follows a gang of honorable pickpockets working the streets of Hong Kong. Twice voted best director at the Hong Kong Film Awards, South Africa-born Lawrence Lau (1949) presents «City Without Baseball,» a 2008 project that began as a documentary on the overlooked sport and eventually evolved into a drama featuring real baseball players playing dramatized versions of themselves, blending reality and fiction. Two different forms of prostitution – a drug addict who sells her body in order to pay for her habit, and a pregnant woman who marries a much older man in order to ensure a high standard of living – is the subject of the 2008 drama «Two Women for Sale» by Herman Yau (born 1961), a prolific filmmaker with a cult following, magazine editor and writer. The tribute ends with the 26-year-old filmmaker Heiward Mak, who made a promising debut with the award-winning short film «Lovers’ Lover» in 2007 before going on the following year to make the feature-length «High Noon,» the first part of a trilogy titled «Winds of September.» All the films will be screened with English subtitles. 48 Iera Odos & 134-136 Megalou Alexandrou, Kerameikos, tel 210.360.9695