Genre Cinema in Hong Kong and China
Is Hong Kong genre cinema experiencing a revival with Trivisa?
Trivisa is genre cinema celebrating with relish its own history which has been relegated to the past. Hong Kong gangster films blossomed in the 1990s but then ground to a halt when the British colony reverted to China. Today, filmmakers in Hong Kong produce for the Chinese market and no longer cultivate this original, very distinctive cinema. There are, however, exceptions like Johnny To who produced Trivisa. The film directly addresses the handing over of power in 1997. He depicts the situation amongst organised crime, the Triads, which had to look for new business models after the change. Trivisa is made by three young directors, each of whom stage the story of one of the protagonists.
Has the genre film completely disappeared from China?
Not quite, but Chinese cinema doesn’t have a big genre tradition. Aside from ghost stories, which are not permitted because ghosts are incompatible with the materialistic theories of the communist authorities. A film like Zhi fan ye mao (Life after Life) by Zhang Hanyi has no chance of appearing in cinemas in China even though the ghost motif is actually used as a metaphor. The film tells the story of a woman who returns to the world in the body of her own son in order to make her husband replant a tree, meaning the film is referring to the changes and the environmental catastrophe in the country.
Japanese Anarchism in 8mm
You are showing a series of Japanese works from 1977 to 1990 under the title “Hachimiri Madness - Japanese Indies from the Punk Years”. What is the background of these films?
Whilst the medium of video was being discovered in America and Europe in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Japanese filmmakers were having a fling with the 8mm format until the early 1990s. Most of the now famous directors, like Sion Sono and Masashi Yamamoto, made their first feature films on 8mm. The works from that time have almost completely disappeared because the material is difficult to copy and was never subtitled. Keiko Araki from PIA Film Festival in Tokyo, where the films were screened in the 1980s, Jacob Wong from Hong Kong Film Festival and I have burrowed through the archive, viewed many of these films and decided to digitise some of them in 2K and furnish them with English subtitles.