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Ann Hui’s Song of the Exile

Ann Hui’s Song of the Exile

Audrey Yue
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 142
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  • Book Info
    Ann Hui’s Song of the Exile
    Book Description:

    The resolutely independent filmmaker Ann On-wah Hui continues to inspire critical acclaim for her sensitive portrayals of numerous Hong Kong tragedies and marginalized populations. In a pioneering career spanning three decades, Hui has been director, producer, writer and actress for more than 30 films. In this work, Audrey Yue analyses a 1990 film considered by many to be one of Hui’s most haunting and poignant works, Song of the Exile. The semi-autobiographical film depicts a daughter’s coming to terms with her mother’s Japanese identity. Themes of cross-cultural alienation, divided loyalties and generational reconciliation resonate strongly amid the migration and displacement pressures surrounding Hong Kong in the early 1990s. Even now, more than a decade after the 1997 Handover, the film is a perennial favourite among returning Hong Kong emigrants and international cinema students. This book examines how Hui challenges the myth of the original home as singular, familial and romantic, and constructs the second home as a new space for Hong Kong modernity. Yue also discusses the teaching of the film in the diaspora, demonstrating its potential as an affective and performative text of transcultural literacy and diasporic negotiations in the cross-cultural classroom.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-611-3
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Series Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    Ackbar Abbas and Wimal Dissanayake
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    Song of the Exile was released in Hong Kong from 27 April 1990 to 16 May 1990, and grossed over HK$3,071,212 (MPIA 1990). Produced by Cos Group and distributed by Golden Harvest, the film consolidated the career of the director, Ann On-wah Hui, Hong Kong’s ‘most influential director in the ’80s’ and ‘one of Asia’s premium directors’ (Kei 1994; Foong 2001).

    Hui was born in Anshan, a Chinese iron-mining city in Liaoning Province, Manchuria, in 1947 to a Japanese mother and Chinese father. When she was two, her family moved to the Portuguese-administered Macau. At the age of five, her...

  6. 1 The Diasporas of Hong Kong
    (pp. 7-48)

    Song of the Exile traces the postwar life of a Japanese woman married to a Chinese Nationalist soldier, her adolescent daughter’s discovery of her mother’s ethnicity, and their reconciliation as she accompanies her homesick mother back to her native town in Japan. Moving deftly between the past and the present through a series of extended flashbacks, the story takes place across China, Britain, Macau, Hong Kong and Japan. The central motif is the diaspora as the inheritance of exile. Exile is a condition that ‘most explicitly invokes a home or homeland’ (Peters 1999: 19). The Chinese title, 客途秋恨, literally translated...

  7. 2 Re-turn to Hong Kong: Authorship, Memory, Intimate Biography
    (pp. 49-87)

    Ann Hui is best known internationally as one of the very few successful female directors working in a male-dominated industry. From early art house films such as Song of the Exile to the more contemporary and commercial The Postmodern Life of My Aunt, Hui has been consistently described as a ‘woman filmmaker’ (Doraiswamy 1990: 22). Most recently, in a 2007 Harvard Film Archive retrospective of her films, she was praised as having ‘produced a varied body of work which offers a more thoughtful contemplation on national identity and the role of women in contemporary Asian society’ (Harvard Film Archive 2007)....

  8. 3 Teaching Song of the Exile in the Diaspora: Minor Cinema, Transcultural Literacy and Border Pedagogy
    (pp. 89-123)

    As Hong Kong cinema continues its ascendency into the global film circuits, Hong Kong films are increasingly incorporated as key texts in the disciplines of cinema, cultural and media studies in Asia and the West. The feminist art house style of Song of the Exile is often used as a counterpoint to the popular genres of swordplay, martial arts and heroic action. In introductory subjects, the film can teach core concepts such as ethnicity, migration, acculturation and assimilation. In more advanced subjects, it can explore the social construction of identity and its role in shaping intercultural communication. This chapter continues...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 125-127)
  10. Awards and Nominations
    (pp. 129-129)
  11. Ann Hui’s Filmography
    (pp. 131-132)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 133-148)