FRESH WAVE SHORT FILMS
The Fresh Wave International Film Festival is proof that Hong Kong cinema still has many great young talents who can carry the torch. Organised since 2005 by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council and today championed by master filmmaker Johnnie To, who is the Chairman of the HKADC’s Film and Media Arts Group, the annual Fresh Wave festival gives each eligible young filmmaker (half of them students representing their respective schools) a HK$40,000 (4,000 euro) budget and a mentor from the film industry to produce a narrative short up to 30 minutes in length. Each mentor – including directors like Herman Yau and Fruit Chan – helps the filmmakers shape their script and may even visit the set to offer production advice.
Award-winning participants receive financial support to take their short films abroad to other film festivals. Some have also gone on to enter the film industry, including two prizewinners who have since worked as scriptwriters for Johnnie To.
More importantly for audiences, Fresh Wave films tend to serve as a good barometer of things that are on the minds of Hong Kong youths. In 2011, we saw filmmakers explore the growing socio-political movement among youths who took their grievances to the streets. Last year, participants in 36 short films branched out and explored a diverse group of topics, including death, police brutality, historical preservation, the price of parenthood and even young Beijing opera performers, and audiences could track topics as they appeared across multiple films. The Fresh Wave competition offers a truly creative forum for young people to voice their concerns about their lives and their city.
PROGRAMME 1 Flowers with Aphasia 忘語花 2012, 30’ Dir: Happyheart Li A young boy orders a funeral bouquet from a local funeral florist. Still reeling from the death of his son, the florist finds drive in his life once again through his bond with the boy. There’s no social or political context in Happyheart Li’s sombre drama; it’s just a gentle and poignant story in which the most important points of conversations lie in what the characters don’t or aren’t able to say to each other.
It’s no surprise that this thoughtful and elegant film won both the Best Film prize in the Fresh Wave 2012 Open Division and the overall Fresh Wave Award.
Happyheart Li Sum-yuet is a creative media graduate who studied at the City University of Hong Kong. After directing the short film Flowers with Aphasia (2012), she went on to work with director Fruit Chan as an assistant.
Dong 冬去 2012, 26’ Dir: Li Yushan Dong (“Winter”) and Nuannuan (“Warmth”) are two young Beijing opera performers who have devoted their young lives to their craft. However, each has growing pains just like any other child does; Nuannuan longs for her oft-absent mother, while Dong harbours a boyish infatuation for Nuannuan’s young aunt.
Director Li Yushan tells a quiet, but stirring comingof- age story with surprisingly strong performances from the two young leads. The gorgeous wintery landscapes of Li’s hometown Shenyang also offer a refreshing alternative from the dense sights of urban Hong Kong. Winner of Best Film and Best Script in the Fresh Wave 2012 Student Division. Li Yushan was born in Shenyang, studied in Beijing, and graduated from the Academy of Film at the Hong Kong Baptist University in 2012. After directing Dong (2012), she worked as script girl for a film directed by Dante Lam.
God Bless All Parents 天下父母心可憐 2012, 27’ Dir: Lau Wing-tai In Hong Kong, parents’ desperation to get their children into good schools has become so intense that some kids begin to learn extracurricular subjects like English and music as early as 3 years old. Some companies have turned parents’ anxiety over their children’s future into an opportunity for profit, creating ridiculously expensive educational supplements. Told in real time, this brilliantly written dark comedy chronicles one desperate salesman’s attempt at peddling a HK$50,000 (roughly 5,000 euros) set of English flash cards to two young, naive parents. The film not only reflects the pressure Hong Kong parents face in securing a good future for their children; it also shows the slimy sales tactics that Hong Kong people encounter every day. Winner of Best Script in the Fresh Wave 2012 Open Division.
Lau Wing-tai is a freelance director who worked on the movies See You in You Tube (2008) and Trick or Cheat (2009) as well as TV programmes for Radio Television Hong Kong.
PROGRAMME 2 Such a Girl Like Me 像我這樣的一個女子 2012, 16’ Dir: Man Uen-ching This subtle drama from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts tells the simple story of Sum-yin, a girl who works as a make-up artist in a funeral home. Sum-yin excels at her job, but she hides it from her boyfriend in fear of being ostracised. When the secret puts their relationship in jeopardy, Sumyin has to decide whether to finally tell him the truth. Tackling a subject that films like the Oscarwinning Departures have dealt with before, Man Uen-ching takes a direct, no-frills approach to the heavy material without losing sight of the story’s emotions. The film is also anchored by a captivating performance from Ho Man-man, who manages to express Sum-yin’s tortured psyche despite having only several lines of dialogue. Special Mention in the Fresh Wave 2012 Student Division.
Man Uen-ching graduated from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, having majored in film and TV directing. She has made several short films and documentaries.
Before Frida y 星期四 2012, 30’ Dir: Enoch Cheng Kevin Ma Before Friday begins with a sitcom-like setup: two strangers trapped in a malfunctioning elevator develop a bond while they wait for rescuers. Enoch Cheng proves to be a master audience teaser, as the chance of the two striking up a romance is dashed repeatedly. The script masterfully depicts the fleeting nature of contemporary urban relationships, showing that romantic encounters in the big city come just as easily as they go. Cheng’s direction is also impressively stylish, using techniques like split screens to emphasise the couple’s mental distance from each other, despite standing just a few metres apart.
Enoch Cheng Tak-yan made his debut short film with Queen’s Encounter (2011), which was screened at film festivals in Taipei, Bangkok and Hong Kong.
Heartbeat 48 心跳．回憶 2012, 30’ Dir: Leo Lam A plump, materialistic shut-in learns the importance of landmark preservation the hard way when he timetravels into the future and finds his village has been replaced by a mall. In the course of his desperate search for home, he meets a “pro-preservation” Japanese-style idol group called Heartbeat 48, whose real agenda is actually the complete opposite.
Poking fun at urbanisation, the commercialisation of nostalgia, reality TV and even Japanese idol culture all at once, this is a hilariously offbeat satire that is also a cautionary tale about what we lose in the name of urban development. Ironically, the theme park featuring recreation of Hong Kong landmarks seen in the film is a real exhibition in Ocean Park, one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
Leo Lam Tsz-pui, who has worked as a reporter, graduated from the School of Creative Media at the City University of Hong Kong.