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Interview Patrick Tam: the exiled filmmaker
Emergence of the HK New Wave and early works 1/1 - Page 1
Info
Author(s) : Gina Marchetti
David Vivier
Thomas Podvin
Date : 28/6/2007
Type(s) : Interview
 
 Intext Links  
People :
King Hu
Ann Hui On Wah
Aaron Kwok Fu Sing
Li Han Hsiang
Patrick Tam Kar Ming
Tsui Hark
Wong Kar Wai
Yim Ho
Movies :
After This, Our Exile
The Final Victory
 
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 Notes  
Photo by David Vivier for HKcinemagic.com.


Patrick Tam Kar Ming returns from a 17-year long hiatus from directing and shows that he is still at the peak of his talents with the critically-acclaimed AFTER THIS OUR EXILE, Tam exiled himself in Malaysia teaching scriptwriting in the hope of creating a new generation of talented Chinese-speaking filmmakers. From his teaching work emerged the script for After This.

In this candid interview, the director talks about the production of his most recent film, his relationship with Wong Kar-wai, his involvement with the Hong Kong New Wave, his method of working with actors like Aaron Kwok, and his own approach to the intricacies of film aesthetics within Chinese-language cinema.


hkcinemagic.com (c)

Emergence of the HK New Wave and early works

HKCinemagic : Could you talk about your contribution to the Hong Kong New Wave? Is it still a viable concept?
Patrick Tam : It’s a convenient grouping. I am never at ease with this kind of labeling. Of course, we appreciated it at that time. The first ten years of TVB [a local TV channel from which stemmed the New Wave directors] was the most innovative, creative, and experimental of that time because the system had not been fossilized into something immovable. It was open to experimentation. Selina Chow, now a Hong Kong Legislative Council (LegCo) member, was our boss at the time, and she loves creative works. She gave us creative freedom to experiment. Ann Hui, Tsui Hark, Yim Ho, all these friends, worked together, but I don’t think this can be compared to the French New Wave. They were more intellectual and theoretical. We had this energy (after coming back from studying abroad in England or the United States), and we tried to work according to how we saw cinema. Some of the local moviemakers were getting older. For example, for us, Li Han Hsiang was not “cinematic.” His films were stage recordings for us, so we tried to go against that. The only maestro that we considered truly cinematic was King Hu. We tried to inject some energy, to revitalize local cinema, and we tried to devote the best of our ability to work on that. It was a healthy climate at that time for this.

The Sword (1980)
HKCinemagic : How do you view the New Wave now?
Patrick Tam : We can never go back to the golden days. The whole system has changed. People’s lifestyle has changed. Nowadays, cinema is not the only entertainment you can get. You can go to karaoke, you can go to the Internet, or you can play video games. The young people do not necessarily go to the cinema. This is a global phenomenon. It’s an age of mediocrity --even in Hollywood. With the development of technology, we tend to create works that are, on the surface, full of impact and overpowering, but, inside, emotionally empty. Of course, there is still hope. Here and there, there are still filmmakers truly concerned with human beings and emotions, but these individuals are rare.

Eric Tsang and Rachel Lee in Final Victory
HKCinemagic : Could you talk about your relationship with Wong Kar-Wai? Do you consider yourself his mentor?

Patrick Tam : No. We are just friends. Wong Kar Wai is completely without discipline. He likes to improvise. He likes to explore. This is his way of working. We collaborated on the script of FINAL VICTORY (1987). At that time, we spent a lot of time hanging around coffee shops, talking, discussing, and brainstorming over the story for the script. However, he was never able to finish the whole script. He wrote only half, and the rest I completed with my line producer and my executive producer at that time.

We are close on our views on cinema. We speak more or less the same language. If you’re conversing with someone, you immediately know if you can communicate or not. We can communicate well, but I don’t see myself as any kind of mentor.

 
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