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Hong Kong Documentary Film

Hong Kong Documentary Film

Ian Aitken
Michael Ingham
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Hong Kong Documentary Film
    Book Description:

    Described as the ‘lost genre’, the tradition of documentary film making in Hong Kong is far less known than its martial arts films. However documentary film has always existed in Hong Kong and often represents its troubled relationship to itself, China and the west.Including the period of colonial film-making, the high points of television documentary and the tradition of independent documentary film-making, this book presents a comprehensive study of this lost genre. It explores the role of public-service television (including representations of the massacre at Tiananmen Square) and presents critical analysis of key films.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-6470-2
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-5)

    This book is one outcome of a programme of research that began in 2007. The research was funded by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council and took the shape of four consecutive research projects, of which I was principal investigator. The research covered areas such as Hong Kong independent documentary film, the colonial film units of Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaya, and the influence of the British official film; and all of these areas are also covered in this book to one extent or another. The research programme is also still ongoing, developing pace and changing direction, and, as I...

  4. CHAPTER 1 Hong Kong, Britain, China: The Documentary Film, 1896–1941, A Page of History (1941) and The Battle of Shanghai (1937)
    (pp. 6-45)

    Hong Kong entered the orbit of British imperial power when that power was almost at its zenith in the middle of the nineteenth century. The manner of entry was also a particularly violent, and in some ways also atypical, one. At that point in time the British Empire was expanding across the world out of the older eighteenth-century mercantile imperium, in search of new trading opportunities elsewhere. At the same time, imperial strategy was moving away from the formal annexation of new territories to the establishment of trading settlements, some of which also doubled as strategic military outposts. The older,...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Hong Kong, Britain, China: The Documentary Film, 1947–69, the ‘Picturesque’ Committed Film and Water Comes over the Hills from the East (1965)
    (pp. 46-70)

    By the time of the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 the British Government had already come to the conclusion that Hong Kong could not be defended against expected attack by Japan. The most that could be hoped for, given the then improved relationship with China, one that is also signalled inThe Battle of Shanghai,was that, if such an attack were to occur, China might help to delay the inevitable collapse of the colony by providing temporary military support. The object here was not, therefore, to save Hong Kong at all but to make the...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Colonial Film: The Development of Official Film-making in Hong Kong, 1945–73, the Hong Kong Film Unit (1959–73) and This is Hong Kong (1961)
    (pp. 71-101)

    Colonial film-making, in the guise of British official film-making, as opposed to the early entrepreneurial British/US/French film-making of the 1898–1914 period, developed slowly in Hong Kong over the period from 1945 to the abolition of the Hong Kong Film Unit (HKFU) in 1973; and, in order to understand the reasons for that slow progression it will first be necessary to consider some problems and impediments that had already developed prior to and during the Second World War, problems which were related to an antagonism between a ‘Colonial Office’ (CO) and ‘Griersonian’ tradition. The term ‘Griersonian’ is often used as...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Public–service Broadcasting in an Authoritarian Setting: The Case of Radio Television Hong Kong and the Development of Television Documentary Film in Hong Kong
    (pp. 102-143)

    During the 1970s, agitation for political reform remained muted amongst the local population in Hong Kong, and no substantive political leadership emerged from within that population to promote such reform. This was partly due to the fact that the local community and its leaders had been kept out of governance and executive authority by the colonial regime for so long that they had become habituated to that circumstance. However, it was also partly because, by the 1970s, the colonial regime was administering Hong Kong fairly well. Following the confrontation of the late 1960s some action had been taken against corruption...

  8. CHAPTER 5 The Documentary Films of Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) and The Hong Kong Case (1989)
    (pp. 144-171)

    Although established in 1970 Radio Hong Kong Television (RHKTV) did not produce anything that year, and, by 1971, the unit was still only producing some short information bulletins derived from Government Information Services (GIS) sources. The unit did not actually become fully operational until 1972, when it moved into new studios made ready for it at the new Radio Hong Kong (RHK) centre, Broadcasting House, in the Kowloon Tong area of Kowloon. However, although RHKTV was able to develop its own news bulletins from late 1972, the unit did not succeed in freeing itself entirely from dependence upon well-established GIS...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Aesthetics and Radicalism: An Overview of Independent Documentary Film in Hong Kong, 1973–2013
    (pp. 172-196)

    This chapter provides a general overview of the independent documentary films produced in Hong Kong from the early 1970s up to and including the early years of the second decade of the new millennium. It is intended both as a background to and a comprehensive perspective of the field of independent, non-broadcast documentary practice in the contemporary era, enabling the reader to form a clear picture of the various strands of development over a vibrant and often turbulent forty-year period in the city’s history; this includes, of course, the 1997 transfer of sovereignty to China and the relatively short but...

  10. CHAPTER 7 A Critical Analysis of Significant Independent Documentary Films of the Past Three Decades
    (pp. 197-220)

    The six documentaries selected in this chapter for closer discussion and analysis in relation to the development of the independent documentary genre in Hong Kong over the past thirty years have been chosen on the basis of their merits as films. They are: Ed Kong’sRising Sun(1980); Evans Chan’sJourney to Beijing(1998); Tammy Cheung’sRice Distribution(2003); Anson Mak’sOne Way Street on a Turntable(2007); Cheung King-wai’sKJ: Music and Life(2008); and Louisa Wei’sStorm under the Sun(2011). The films also offer a cross-section of diverse directorial styles and documentary categories, covering most types according...

  11. Conclusions: The Future of Independent Documentary Film in Hong Kong, China and the Region
    (pp. 221-225)

    According to Michael Chanan:

    In short, despite appearances, so to speak, documentary has a power, if not directly to reveal the invisible, nonetheless to speak of things that orthodoxy and conservatism, power and authority, would rather we didn’t know and didn’t think about. And this is exactly why we need it.¹

    Chanan’s timely reminder why a thriving documentary practice is important in any civilised society relates to his experience of documentary-making during the vicious civil war fuelled by the United States government during the 1980s in El Salvador. However, it also applies to the Hong Kong situation, even if the...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 226-231)
  13. Index
    (pp. 232-242)