Cornerhouse Digital Reporter Emma Chibulu reviews Big Blue Lake
As part of a weekend of celebrations marking the 15th anniversary of the Hong Kong handover, Cornerhouse will be hosting the UK Premiere of Big Blue Lake and welcoming director Jessey Tsang and producer Teresa Kwong for a post-screening Q&A. Despite Big Blue Lake only being Jessey’s second feature, she has already snatched up two sought after awards this year, winning the Best Newcomer Award at the 2012 Hong Kong Film Awards and more recently the Jury Prize at the 2012 Shanghai International Film Festival Awards just last month. And you may remember Jessey Tsang’s debut feature Lovers on the Road which screened back in 2009 for Cornerhouse’s Visible Secrets: Hong Kong’s Women Filmmakers season, the genesis for what is now the Chinese Film Forum UK.
Big Blue Lake is a very personal film that flows with a gentle humour, set in the director’s hometown of Ho Chung in the New Territories of Hong Kong, a peaceful village set away from the hustle and bustle of the harbour metropolis, amongst the rolling hills and forests. The film follows Lai-Yee (Leila Tong), as she returns to Hong Kong after a decade away pursuing her acting career, where she finds that the village has changed with the flow of time. As she tries to reconnect with her filial ties at home, she realises her mother (Amy Chun) is suffering from the onset of Alzheimer’s, whilst her father is absent, living overseas. Whilst rediscovering the pace of life in the village, with its traditions and inhabitants, she grows close to her former classmate, Chun (Lawrence Chou). The two muse on their childhood memories and begin to search for the mythical big blue lake of their past. As Jessey deftly tackles themes of memory and loss, the film straddles between fiction and documentary. We see not only the memories of Lai-Yee, but those of the real Ho Chung residents, in a series of interspersed interviews that show them reminisce on days gone by. This is a beautiful film about homecoming and reconciling with the past to pave way for the present.