Hui, Ann – Critical Biography Top
A key player of the Hong Kong New Wave, Ann Hui has shown great resilience in the course of a sustained and prolific filmmaking career, managing to survive within a tough commercial industry environment while essaying a variety of genres and often returning to the portrayal of ordinary lives and everyday dilemmas within the context of an ever-changing Hong Kong.
Ann Hui studied English and Comparative Literature at the University of Hong Kong before receiving her film education abroad at the London Film School. Hui worked briefly as an assistant to the director King Hu before she started making television films for Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) and Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB). Hui’s socially engaged television work was acclaimed, and she made her feature film debut with The Secret (1979). Along with The Spooky Bunch (1980), Hui’s early films showcased her ability to explore questions regarding Hong Kong’s ever-changing cultural identity while satisfying the demands of commercial genre filmmaking.
Hui’s interest in the plight of Vietnamese refugees led her to make the films Boat People (1981), set in Saigon under communist rule, and The Story of Woo Viet (1981), a story about Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong. Hui, however, quickly departed from the gritty realism of her Vietnam films for two sumptuous literary adaptations: Love in a Fallen City (1984), a Shaw Brothers production based on Eileen Chang’s novella, and a two-part adaptation of Jin Yong (Louis Cha)’s martial-arts epic, The Book and the Sword (The Romance of Book and Sword, 1986 & Princess Fragrance, 1987). She turned to the subject of political activism in Starry is the Night (1988) before making one of her most acclaimed films, the autobiographical Song of the Exile (1990), a work that dealt with Hui’s mixed parentage (Hui was born in Manchuria to a Chinese father and a Japanese mother) against the background of the Second World War and 1970s Hong Kong.
After working on an unsuccessful action vehicle for Andy Lau (Zodiac Killers, 1991) and a cross-cultural comedy set in China (My American Grandson, 1990), Hui turned her attention to daily life in contemporary Hong Kong, with two affectionate portraits of women confronted with everyday dilemmas, featuring respectively the veteran actress Josephine Siao (Summer Snow, 1995) and action star Michelle Yeoh (Ah Kam, 1996).
From 1997 to the Present
On the surface, Hui’s post-1997 output consists of an eclectic mix of works belonging to wildly different genres (essay film, horror-comedy, period adaptation, realist drama, etc.) that testify once again to the director’s continued balancing act between commercial assignments and personal projects within an increasingly challenging industry environment. Closer examination, however, reveals that Hui has maintained her interest in chronicling the lives of the ordinary within the societal context of a changing Hong Kong as well as that of a mainland China now undergoing vast processes of transformation.
In 1997, the year of the Handover, Hui directed both a lavish, Shanghai-set adaptation of Eileen Chang’s novel Eighteen Springs (1997) – featuring an all-star cast led by Leon Lai and Anita Mui – as well as a low-budget DV documentary (As Time Goes By, 1997) about growing up in colonial Hong Kong that includes numerous reminiscences about her college days as a student at the University of Hong Kong. Two films that Hui made shortly afterwards seem to echo or correspond to earlier works by the director. Ordinary Heroes (1999), a drama about social and political activism in Hong Kong, revisits or reconsiders themes and motifs first explored in Starry Is the Night (1988), while July Rhapsody (2002) – the portrait of a high school teacher who undergoes a form of mid-life crisis when a student has a crush on him – seems to posit itself as a companion piece to Summer Snow (1995), Hui’s earlier account of a middle-aged woman coping with a variety of issues in her life.
Aside from a genre assignment she accepted largely for commercial reasons (Visible Secret, 2001), Hui went on to make two films set in contemporary China: Jade Goddess of Mercy (2003), a police drama based on popular fiction starring Zhao Wei that was not well-received, and The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (2006), a highly anticipated comedy-drama about the confusion of values in today’s PRC that invites comparison with My American Grandson (1990), Hui’s Shanghai-set comedy made over a decade before. The film’s high-profile star casting of Siqin Gaowa and Chow Yun-Fat generated much buzz, but Hui refused to be pinned down and chose to steer clear of comedy and star power for her subsequent feature.
For The Way We Are (2008), Hui turned to digital filmmaking and was able to realize a low-budget, personal project valorizing everyday life in the low-income residential area of Tin Shui Wai. Well-received by local critics, it led to a dark and harrowing follow-up film (starring Simon Yam and Zhang Jingchu) based on a real-life case of domestic violence and murder that took place in the same neighborhood (Night and Fog, 2009). Hui’s Tin Shui Wai diptych attracted great publicity and controversy, and for a time, the veteran New Waver found herself once again at the center of critical discussions regarding the future of Hong Kong cinema.
Hui, however, quickly changed directions, and made a comedy featuring lesbian characters within a yuppie, urban professional milieu (All About Love, 2010), before directing the intimate, low-key drama, A Simple Life (2011), about an elderly female servant’s relationship to her younger master. The film won the Best Actress award for star Deanie Yip at the Venice Film Festival, and became a local box-office success as well as one of Hui’s most well-received works in years. Refusing to rest on laurels, Hui worked on a period film starring Tang Wei (The Golden Era, 2014) about the Chinese writer Xiao Hong, a celebrated female author who moved to and died in Hong Kong during the war years.
|Role||Title (English)||Title (Chinese)||Year|
|Director||Golden Era (Trailer)||黃金時代||2014|
|A Simple Life (Trailer)||桃姐||2011|
|All About Love (Trailer)||得閒炒飯||2010|
|Night and Fog (Trailer)||天水圍的夜與霧||2009|
|The Way We Are (Trailer)||天水圍的日與夜||2008|
|Director||The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (Trailer)||姨媽的後現代生活||2006|
|Director||Goddess of Mercy (Trailer)||玉觀音||2003|
|Producer||Visible Secret II||幽靈人間之鬼味人間||2002|
|July Rhapsody (Trailer)||男人四十||2002|
|Ordinary Heroes (Trailer)||千言萬語||1999|
|Producer||A Little Life-Opera||一生一台戲||1998|
|Eighteen Springs (Trailer)||半生緣||1997|
|Director||Ah Kam (Trailer)||阿金||1996|
|Director||Boy and His Hero||少年與英雄||1994|
|Director||My American Grandson||上海假期||1991|
|Director||Song of the Exile||客途秋恨||1990|
|Director||Starry is the Night (Trailer)||今夜星光燦爛||1988|
|Director||The Romance of Book and Sword||書劍恩仇錄||1987|
|Director||Love in a Fallen City||傾城之戀||1984|
|Director||Boat People (Trailer)||投奔怒海||1982|
|Director||The Story of Woo Viet||胡越的故事||1981|
|Director||The Spooky Bunch||撞到正||1980|
|Role||Title (English)||Title (Chinese)||Year|
|Director||My Way in Beautiful 2012 (Trailer)||美好2012: 我的路||2012|
|Co-director with Vincent Chui||As Time Goes By||去日苦多||1997|
Golden Era (2014):
Asian American Press – The Golden Era: Hong Kong’s pitch for an Oscar
China.org.cn – ‘Golden Era’: Ann Hui’s art house experiment
Close-up Film – A Simple Life
Film Business Asia – The Golden Era
Filmed in Ether – REVIEW: THE GOLDEN ERA
Jayne Stars – Tang Wei Stars in Ann Hui’s “Golden Age”
Screen Daily – Ann Hui, The Golden Era
Time Out Beijing – Interview: Ann Hui
Time Out HK – Interview: Ann Hui – The Golden Era
The Hollywood Reporter – Berlin: Hong Kong’s Edko Films to Offer Next Ann Hui Feature
Twitich Film – Ann Hui’s THE GOLDEN ERA Is A Tragedy Of Epic Proportions
Variety – Venice Film Review: ‘The Golden Era’
Related news of Golden Era on 34 th Hong Kong Film Awards:
Coconuts Hong Kong – ‘The Golden Era’ tops Hong Kong Film Awards
The Hollywood Reporter – Hong Kong Film Awards: ‘The Golden Era’ Leads With Five Wins
The Wall Street Journal – ‘The Golden Era’ Wins at Hong Kong Film Awards
My Way in Beautiful 2012 (2012):
(A Nutshell) Review – [HKIFF 2012 Review] Beautiful 2012 (World Premiere)
Chinese Screen News – Youku micro movie “Walker” to screen at Cannes Festival
Eastern Kicks – Beautiful 2012
Film Balaya – CAAMFest 2013: Movie Preview Guide
Screen Daily – Beautiful 2012
Webs of Significance – The 2012 Hong Kong International Film Festival has begun!
A Simple Life (2011):
Asian Movie Web – A Simple Life
Beyond Asia Philia – Miles Ahead: Ann Hui’s A Simple Life and My Way
Cine-vue – Film Review: ‘A Simple Life’
Film Business Asia – A Simple Life
Letterboxed – A Simple Life (2011)
Love HK FIlm – A Simple Life
Rogerebert.com – A Simple Life
Slant Magazine – A Simple Life
Stranger on Film – Review: A Simple Life – Ann Hui
The Hollywood Reporter – A Simple Life (Tao Jie): Venice Film Review
The New Tork Times – In Old Age the Servant Becomes the Served
Time Put HK – Ann Hui
Twitch Film – Review: A SIMPLE LIFE Earns Your Praise and a Few Tears
Variety – Review: ‘A Simple Life’
All About Love (2010):
Asia Pacific Arts – AFM 2010: Hong Kong Films
Beyond Hollywood.com – All About Love (2010) Movie Review
Dr. Sean Tierney – Movie Review: All About Love
Film Business Asia – All About Love
Love HK Film – All About Love
MovieXclusive – All About Love
Screen Crave – Interview: Ann Hui for All About Love
The China Post – All About Love
Yam Magazine – All About Love
Night and Fog (2009):
Asia Movie Web – Night and Fog
Corner House – Night and Fog
Love HK Film – Night and Fog
So Good Review – Night and Fog (2009)
Variety – Review: ‘Night and Fog’
The Way We Are (2008):
Cinespot – The Way We Are
David Bordwell – Modest Doesn’t Mean Unambitious
Far East Film – The Way We Are
HK Magazine – The Way We Are
HK Neo Reviews – The Way We Are
Love HK Film – The Way We Are
So Good Reviews – The Way We Are
The China Best – Ann Hui’s Films and the Poetics of Mundane Redemption
The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (2006)
Far East Films – The Post-Modern Life Of My Aunt
HK Neo Reviews – The Postmodern Life of My Aunt 姨媽的後現代生活 (2006) – Hong Kong / China
Love HK Film – The Postmodern Life of My Aunt
Podcast on Fire – VS: The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (2006)
So Good Reviews – The Postmodern Life Of My Aunt (2006)
The Case for Global Film – The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (China 2006)
Time Out HK – Chow Yun-fat
Goddess of Mercy (2003):
Dennis Grunes – (JADE) GODDESS OF MERCY (Ann Hui, 2003)
Eastern Kicks – Goddess of Mercy
Heroic Cinema – Review: Goddess of Mercy (2003)
Screen Daily – Goddess Of Mercy
So Good Reviews – Goddess Of Mercy (2003)
The New York Times – Goddess of Mercy (2003)
Visible Secret II (2002):
Cinespot – Visible Secret 2
Love HK Film – Visible Secret 2
So Good Reviews – Visible Secret II (2002)
Variety – Review: ‘Visible Secret II’
July Rhapsody (2002):
Ain’t It Cool News – Jacky Cheung and Anita Mui in JULY RHAPSODY review!!!
Anxiety Neurosis – July Rhapsody
Eye for Film – July Rhapsody
Illuminated Lantern – July Rhapsody
Love HK Film – July Rhapsody
Podcast on Fire – VS: July Rhapsody (2002)
So Good Reviews – July Rhapsody (2001)
Variety – Review: ‘July Rhapsody’
Visible Secret (2001):
Beyond Hollywood – Visible Secret (2001) Movie Review
Corner House – Visible Secret / Youling renjian
Eastern Kicks – Visible Secret
Far East Film – Visible Secret
Love HK Film – Visible Secret
Heroic cinema – Review: Visible Secret (2001)
Horror News – Film Review: Visible Secret (2001)
Realm of the Uninvited – Visible Secret AKA Youling renjian (2001)
Shuqi – Visible Secret (2001)
Variety – Review: ‘Visible Secret’
Peony Pavilion (2001):
Lesbian Film Review – The Peony Pavilion
Rambler without Borders – Peony Pavilion (2001)
Ordinary Heroes (1999):
Love HK FIlm – Ordinary Heroes
So Good Reviews – Ordinary Heroes (1999)
The Guardian – Ordinary Heroes (Qianyan Wanyu)
Time Out London – Ordinary Heroes
A Little Life-Opera (1998):
International Forum of New Cinema – Yi Sheng Yi Tai Xi (A Little Life-Opera)
Eighteen Springs (1997):
Busan Haps – Ann Hui Wins AFOY at this Year’s BIFF
Chicago Tribune – Ann Hui to Receive Busan Festival Award
Chinese Cinemas – Eighteen Springs
Hong Kong Information Services Department – HK Film Archive looks at Eileen Chang and film (with photos)
Love HK Film – Eighteen Springs
So Good Reviews – Eighteen Springs (1997)
Variety – Review: ‘Eighteen Springs’
BOMB – Ann Hui
Bright Light Films Journal – Achievement and Crisis: Hong Kong Cinema in the ’80s
Corner House – An Interview with Ann Hui
Film Festival – Interview with Ann Hui at Istanbul Film Festival
Havard Film Archive – March Rhapsody: Selected Films of Ann Hui
Meet the Filmmakers – Ann Hui
Senses of Cinema – Border Crossings: Ann Hui’s cinema
The Guardian – The amahs: China’s sisterhood of quiet pioneers
The Hollywood Reporter:
– Q&A: Ann Hui
– Busan Fest to Honor Hong Kong’s Ann Hui as Asian Filmmaker of the Year
Time Out HK – The 100 Greatest Hong Kong Films/7
Hong Kong Cinemagic – Ann Hui On Wah
Hong Kong Movie Database – Ann Hui On-Wah
IMDB – Ann Hui
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(Last update: 20 April 2015)