Filming Margins

Filming Margins: Tang Shu Shuen, A Forgotten Hong Kong Woman Director

Yau Ching
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2jc14m
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  • Book Info
    Filming Margins
    Book Description:

    This book studies the work of filmmaker Tang Shu Shuen in Hong Kong in the 1960s and 1970s. It raises issues regarding the applicability of paradigms of Western auteurism and feminist authorship in studying Tang's work and also examines the reasons why Tang Shu Shuen's work has been so underrecognised and underdiscussed historically. Through examining the production and reception structures of Tang Shu Shuen's work, this publication attempts to shed light on the development of Hong Kong's film industry and the evolution and problems of Hong Kong's cultural identity in the 1960s and 1970s. Yau Ching is currently Assistant Professor at the School of Design of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She teaches courses in areas including media production, cinema studies and cultural studies. She is also a filmmaker, media artist and writer. Her publications include Building a New Stove, Stripping Pants and Skirts, The Impossible Home, and Ho Yuk. Her films and videos include Flow, The Ideal/Na(rra)tion, Video Letters 1–3, Diasporama: Dead Air, Finding Oneself, and Ho Yuk (Let's Love Hong Kong).

    eISBN: 978-988-220-132-3
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. FIGURES AND TABLE
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. NOTE ON ROMANISATION AND TRANSLATION
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. INTRODUCTION: FRAMING A HONG KONG CHINESE FEMALE AUTHORSHIP IN HISTORY
    (pp. 1-28)

    THIS BOOK SEEKS to fill a gap in the development of international cinema studies by producing a critical discussion of a key woman director working in the Hong Kong cinema of the 1960s and 1970s, on whom scholarship has been, until now, respectful but limited. My study incorporates theories of authorship, feminist film criticism, and cultural studies to interrogate how a body of work has been marginalised in history by the operations and limitations of certain cinematic and social discourse in the changing contexts of Hong Kong. This project is addressed to film scholars, cultural studies scholars, and any serious...

  7. 1 TO BE A CHINESE FEMALE SUBJECT: THE ARCH
    (pp. 29-66)

    CRITIQUING THE FEMINIST responses around Arzner’s work and the heterosexual bias embedded in these responses, Judith Mayne (1991, 118) comments:

    Although rigid hierarchies of sexual difference are indeed characteristic of dominant cinema, they are not absolute, and Arzner’s films represent other kinds of cinematic pleasure and desire.

    Mayne uses a reading of ‘lesbian irony’ to discuss the ways that Arzner’s work, especially her representation of irresolvable contradictions, has been undermined. According to Mayne, Dance, Girl, Dance (Dorothy Arzner, 1940), for example, embodies a dualism that enables the cinema to function both as ‘an arena of patriarchal exploitation and female self-representation’...

  8. 2 THE (IM)POSSIBILITY OF AN INSTITUTIONAL CRITIQUE: CHINA BEHIND
    (pp. 67-100)

    Beverle Houston (1994, 271) asks about the ‘problem of Dorothy Arzner’: How can the female auteur be ‘positioned in a history of film that is the history of the structure and development of its institutions and practices’? The ambitions of The Arch attempt a critique of sexist and feudalistic ideologies and seek to use Tang’s interpretation of Chinese culture to challenge the existing Chinese cinematic institutions and practices. By bringing these interrogations from a period drama to the contemporary present, Tang’s second film, China Behind, further pushes the boundaries of the socio-political institutions to such an extent that it was...

  9. 3 A BREAK FROM HER AUTHORSHIP? THE CONTEXT OF MAKING SUP SAP BUP DAP AND THE HONG KONG TYCOON
    (pp. 101-128)

    THE FOLLOWING THREE chapters examine the significance and problematics of authorship that Tang’s last two films, Sup Sap Bup Dap and The Hong Kong Tycoon, further raised. These two films particularly challenge our patriarchal and individualistic assumptions of Western auteurism and seek to redefine her body of work in other terms.

    Tang has clearly intended these later works of hers to be viewed differently from her earlier ones, making the break between China Behind and Sup Sap Bup Dap most drastic. First, these films, much more than her earlier ones, were clearly targeted for a Hong Kong audience. Tang has...

  10. 4 REVISITING HER CINEMA AS COUNTER-CINEMA: SUP SAP BUP DAP
    (pp. 129-178)

    IN THIS CHAPTER, I examine the ways that Tang’s shifts in style, aesthetics, and genre in Sup Sap Bup Dap, which puzzled a lot of critics, are closely related to ideological, socio-cultural and historical changes and should be seen as strategic and necessary. I would argue that Sup Sap Bup Dap not only continues and further complicates Tang’s interrogation of the representation of female desire and subjectivity, it also ties that interrogation to issues of class, race, and ethnicity in unprecedented ways. I bring to the fore the ways in which Sup Sap Bup Dap, more than her previous works,...

  11. 5 MASQUERADING THE STEREOTYPING: THE HONC KONG TYCOON
    (pp. 179-234)

    IN THIS CHAPTER, I continue to investigate how female authorship is constructed in and through discourse, inseparable from the desires that circulate within the texts but also simultaneously informed by desires of other discourses historically and socially. When authorship could be read as a framework proposing a set of fluid desires revealed by a group of films of one director, to what extent can an author map and explore emotional, psychological, and political subject positions onto diverse and often contradictory characters, situations, and genres?

    I have pointed out in Chapter 1, in relation to The Arch, how Tang’s authorship speaks...

  12. 6 AFTERWORD: TO CONTINUE, TO REMEMBER
    (pp. 235-240)

    THIS PUBLICATION IS one of the first attempts to more thoroughly examine Tang Shu Shuen’s authorship in Hong Kong cinema in the 1960s and 1970s. It is undertaken in contrast to the overwhelming attention given to male auteurs in the action genre of Hong Kong cinema, actively circulating in international film circuits, often taken out of their socio-historical contexts. My aim is not to use Tang Shu Shuen’s body of work to support a theory or generalisation but rather to interrogate and re-examine ome of the most under-discussed and accomplished examples of Hong Kong cinema.

    I have tried to rebuild...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 241-242)
  14. FILMOGRAPHY
    (pp. 243-248)
  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 249-278)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 279-290)