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Interview with Stanley Kwan in Paris
Cinema from Hong Kong 1/1 - Page 2
Author(s) : David Vivier
Van-Thuan LY
Date : 2/7/2005
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Chan Chuk Chiu
Ann Hui On Wah
Angela Mak Leng Chi
Patrick Tam Kar Ming
Terry Tong Gei Ming
Wong Kar Wai
Kirk Wong Chi Keung (2)
Yim Ho
Dennis Yu Wan Kwong
Lexic :
New Wave
< Previous
Page 1 : Introduction
Next >
Page 3 : Cinema from China

HKCinemagic : You were assistant of directors such as Ann Hui and Patrick Tam. Do you claim to be a member of the New Wave cinema in Hong Kong ?
S K : I wouldn't dare to say that I belong to that generation of filmmakers. There have been three "waves" in the recent history of Hong Kong cinema. I rather belong to the third wave. I think I have been very lucky in my journey to become a director. When I became assistant in the TVB, in the late 1970s, I worked with people like Ann Hui, Yim Ho, Patrick Tam or Dennis Yu on TV series, shot in 16mm [generally aired in the weekend] . It was for us almost like movies. When they left the TVB, to make a start in cinema, at the dawn of the 1980s, they founded the first New Wave. The "second wave" was also close of the television, with people like Kirk Wong, Terry Tong Gei Ming, Cheuk Pak Tong, Angela Mak Leng Chi or Chan Chuk Chiu Yim Ho's wife. You probably know them less well in the West.
"Those were the days of hundred flowers" of Hong Kong cinema. In the 1980s, there was an outbreak of talents. The producers gave a chance to directors who came mostly from television ; They were looking for new blood.

The filmmakers of the "third wave" to which I belong began in the shadow of those in the first wave. I have been an assistant for a long time, especially in Ann Hui movies, before shooting my first movie. Wong Kar Wai has been a scriptwriter, especially for Patrick Tam, before he began to shoot his own movies.
HKCinemagic : What's your situation, as an independent filmmaker, in the film industry in Hong Kong , which still favours the commercial "entertainment"?
S K : I still don't know if I have found my place in the Hong Kong film industry! I think that the Hong Kong cinema has always favoured the commercial aspect. Until the late 1970s, before the arrival of the New Wave, all the films produced in Hong Kong focused on the market, aiming for a success at the box office. Whether cape and sword, kung-fu, musical movies, popular comedies, or the erotic films of Li Han Hsiang : all were produced in order to earn money first. So I think that all of Hong Kong filmmakers are impregnated by the commercial aspect of the films; They received an education popular and commercial about films. Historically, they're bathing in this commercial environment. Why, for example, are there almost no Hong Kong films dealing with political issues? Why , when Tian Zhuangzhuang was able to make The Blue Kite (1993) in China , and Hou Hsiao Hsien City of Pain (1989) in Taiwan- two films that deal with the political situation in China or Taiwan in a very acute way, we made almost nothing Hong Kong ? It's that we're unable to make such films. But in Hong Kong , before shooting a film, we must think first to its market potential. The commercial aspect of a film is always far more important than its artistic or political ambitions. If the film's subject is suspected not to be able to find his audience, then the movie will never be made ! The majority of Hong Kong filmmakers have integrated such a criterion of popular success in their artistic choices. In Hong Kong , we'll always prefer producing genre films like thrillers, comedies, etc., because we know that there's a potential demand from the public for this kind of film. That is the mentality of people who make movies in Hong Kong .

I would'nt even dare to speak about my artistic ambitions. It's difficult to exist in the film industry in Hong Kong . As a filmmaker, I try to print a particular style to my movies. Take people like Ann Hui, Wong Kar Wai or myself : from our very beginning, we wanted to shoot with the greatest comedians, because we knew that their names on the bill will allow our films to be distributed properly, and perhaps to meet the success at the box office. It was only after obtaining the those actors consent that we can begin to try to impose our own style, our artistic point of view. We remain into the system, while trying to keep us far from the mainstream, both by the topics covered in our movies and by our way of shooting. But it's definitely the success at the box office which gives us the opportunity to make more ambitious films on the artistic level.

The filmmakers of the Fifth Generation in China , or the Taiwan "authors" can make films with unknown actors, even with "amateurs". This is almost inconceivable in Hong Kong . Of course this kind of films also exists in Hong Kong , but they are very rare.

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