Visible Secrets UK tour launched at a gala screening in London on Mon 2 November, and will visit venues across the country, facilitated by the Independent Cinema Office.
Check the “UK Tour” section for updates, on the left hand side of this page.
A UK-first season of new films, including a focus on the contemporary films of award winning director Ann Hui, curated by Sarah Perks, Programme & Engagement Director at Cornerhouse and Andy Willis, Reader in Film Studies at University of Salford.
From the auteur to the avant-garde, Hong Kong cinema has a strong tradition of women working behind the camera. Perhaps surprisingly, most of their work has rarely been seen in the UK. Intended to address this glaring omission, Visible Secrets: Hong Kong’s Women Filmmakers, will be a unique programme of films, events and special guests designed to celebrate the imagination and vibrancy of these directors and their work.
The programme introduces astounding new directors including Yan Yan Mak, Barbara Wong, Aubrey Lam and Tsang Tsui Shan; covers documentaries and short films, and showcases the contemporary films of Ann Hui.
In addition, to coincide with the season, the co-programmers have edited the autumn edition of the respected magazine Film International focusing on Hong Kong cinema with an extended article on Visible Secrets, now available to buy from our Bookshop.
The programme is an excellent one and offers a good and rare opportunity for people in the UK to see work by Hong Kong women filmmakers. The films are very well chosen and they cover a comprehensive range of recent output, including documentaries, which will be quite attractive to contemporary audiences. Particularly noteworthy is the mini-retrospective of Ann Hui, who remains the most outstanding of Hong Kong’s female directors. Her recent work continues to grow from strength to strength. In Hui’s work we see a commitment to cinema but more than that, we see her immersion in the social world of her characters and her attempts to uncover transcendental secrets about human beings, making these secrets visible before our very eyes, as it were. All the women filmmakers featured in this season share Hui’s mission in one way or another, and it is therefore a fascinating programme altogether. I congratulate the programmers for organizing the season and highly recommend it to film buffs and filmgoers in general who see film as a window on society and as a mirror of one’s soul.
Stephen Teo, Author of Hong Kong Cinema: The Extra Dimensions (BFI Publishing)
Gala Tickets are £10 full / £8 concs, and include a glass of wine.
- OPENING GALA/ This Darling Life (12A)
- CLOSING GALA/ Claustrophobia (PG)
- CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE GALA/ Lovers on the Road (15)
FLOATING LANDSCAPES: NEW DIRECTORS
This strand of Visible Secrets will showcase recent features by new and emerging directors to watch. Floating Landscapes reveals the breadth, variety and vibrancy of the work produced by young Hong Kong women filmmakers.
- Butterfly (15)
- High Noon (CTBA)
- The Floating Landscape (12A)
- Ming Ming (15)
- Anna & Anna (15)
- Wonder Women (15)
THIS DARLING LIFE: DOCUMENTARIES
This strand of Visible Secrets explores the wide range of documentaries made by women directors. Also see This Darling Life Opening Gala above.
VISIBLE SECRET: THE 21ST CENTURY FILMS OF ANN HUI
Described by allmovie.com as ‘One of the most important figures of Hong Kong cinema’, Ann Hui is perhaps the best known women filmmaker currently working in the territory. Her work combines a celebration of the history and traditions of Hong Kong and its cinema with an acute eye for contemporary social issues facing the territory. A graduate of the London Film School, her films have appeared at prestigious film festivals such as Berlin and San Sebastian and won over 13 awards. Since Visible Secret in 2001 her films have enjoyed widespread critical acclaim. That film gave us the title for our season and we are proud to showcase the recent work of an inspirational woman filmmaker.
- Night and Fog (CTBA)
- The Way We Are (PG)
- The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (15)
- Goddess of Mercy (CTBA)
- July Rhapsody (CTBA)
- Visible Secret (CTBA)
HONG KONG SNAPSHOTS: SHORT FILMS
Three programmes of exciting acclaimed shorts films curated by Teresa Kwong, director of the Hong Kong Independent Film and Video Awards (IFVA) in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Snapshots presents a selection of the best and most engaging work from a new generation of women artists and filmmakers who choose to produce independent and experimental work that is very different from the commercial concerns of the Hong Kong mainstream.
Presented in association with IFVA and the Hong Kong Arts Centre.
- Snapshots 1: Où est la sortie?
- Snapshots 2: These shoes weren’t made for walking
- Snapshots 3: Invisible City
This section will be updated regularly as new venues take part and films and times are confirmed. The Visible Secrets UK Tour is managed by the Independent Cinema Office.
The Visible Secrets UK Tour was launched at a special gala screening of Claustrophobia at Curzon Mayfair, London on Mon 2 Nov. Claustrophobia screened at Cornerhouse as the Closing Gala feature on Tue 3 November 20:30.
London | Curzon Mayfair
HKETO Gala Screening: Claustrophobia (PG)
Mon 2 November, 18:30
Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office, London present the UK premiere of Claustrophobia.
Bristol | Watershed
Chichester | Chichester Cinema at New Park
Anna & Anna | Sunday, 3 January 2010
The Floating Landscape | Sunday, 10 January 2010
The Postmodern Life of My Aunt | Sunday, 17 January 2010
Butterfly | Sunday, 24 January 2010
Night and Fog | Sunday, 31 January 2010
Derby | QUAD
Dundee | Dundee Contemporary Arts
Edinburgh | Filmhouse
Wonder Women | Friday, 15 January 2010
Anna and Anna | Monday, 18 January 2010
Ming Ming | Thursday, 21 January 2010
The Way We Are | Friday, 22 January 2010
July Rhapsody | Thursday, 28 January 2010
Visible Secret | Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Inverness | Eden Court
London | Riverside Studios
Northampton | Forum Cinema
Nottingham | Broadway Cinema
Night and Fog | Friday, 4 December 2009
The Way We Are | Saturday, 5 December 2009
July Rhapsody | Sunday, 6 December 2009
The Postmodern Life of My Aunt | Thursday 10 December 2009
Visible Secret | Monday, 7 & Thursday 10 December 2009
Sheffield | Showroom
Season curators Sarah Perks Programme & Engagement Director at Cornerhouse and Andy Willis, Reader in Film Studies at University of Salford discuss director Ann Hui’s illustrious filmmaking past with her, in this fascinating interview…
Your 21st century films are quite eclectic. What has driven your choice of projects in recent times?
I shot Visible Secret after two years’ teaching and I thought, first, I’d better do a film that was marketable. My first film is also a thriller and I thought it was fun to revisit old grounds. Then followed a film which I was really interested in making (July Rhapsody), I thought I would never be able to raise funds for it but surprisingly it was accepted by the investor, so I made it. And so forth and so on… alternately, making films I really want to make and some I could just make so as to survive in the industry.
Could you talk a little about The Way We Are and Night and Fog? These films seem quite different stylistically; one very much informed by social realism and the other more melodramatic, yet each seems perfect for its subject matter. What made you select these different approaches to the setting of Tin Shui Wai?
The Way We Are was initially planned as a D.V. affair since I couldn’t find the money for Night and Fog. It’s also initially not about Tin Shui Wai but I decided to transport the whole setting to Tin Shui Wai. The script was already written 7 or 8 years ago about another housing estate but since I knew Tin Shui Wai well, and the lifestyle of all these housing areas are about the same, I thought it would be okay to transpose the whole story to the newest housing estate. The style of these two films is dictated by their subject matter; I hadn’t initially planned these two films as a diptych at all.
You have worked with a number of well-respected scriptwriters, such as Ivy Ho, could you talk a little about the process you go through with writers?
I work in different ways with different scriptwriters. With Ivy Ho, she initiated the story, we talked about it and then she went ahead to do the writing by herself, whilst I offered comments at every stage. But I made very little changes in the script for July Rhapsody. I am quite content to work on a good script I can identify with.
You seem to be very careful in the casting of your films, often, but not always, using very well known actors. Can you reflect on why and how you cast your films?
Casting is usually a compromise between the investors and me. I think of the suitability of the actors for the parts and the investors consider the marketability of the whole setup. Usually we come up with mutually satisfying compromises.
You have been a major figure within the Hong Kong film industry for a number of years. Has it been difficult to sustain a career over this period, and what have been the highs and lows during that time?
I have been making feature films since 1979. It is difficult but I don’t think more so than in any other job. I started off with four consecutive successes, both in terms of Box Office and critical acclaim, followed by ten years of almost uninterrupted failures. I made a comeback with Summer Snow, which was then followed by another flop. Since then I have been quite steady in my output but continued to be shaky at the Box Office, but by then it didn’t matter so much as all the local films after 1997 didn’t do so well, with very few exceptions.
What changes have you observed in the industry since 1997?
Since 1997, the local industry had gone steadily downhill. However, recently it has found some hopes in co-production with China and the Chinese market seemed heading for a boom.
Would you consider any of the shifts and changes in the Hong Kong film industry positive or do you feel they are mostly negative as they are often portrayed in the press?
I think all the shifts and changes are quite natural, as in any industry and any country. Films obviously have to follow the economics, the viewing habits, the cultural changes of a place and not really vice-versa.
Are you familiar with the work of other women directors working in the HK film industry? Whose work has impressed you?
I am familiar with the work of all the other women filmmakers in Hong Kong. Some of Mabel Cheung’s films are very impressive. I am also impressed by another new director, whose first work came out last year, Heiward Mak.
Do you think your career offers something of a role model for new women directors?
Within the Hong Kong film industry? No, I think the new generation of filmmakers have a completely different set of problems, strengths and weaknesses. It’s better for them to find their own way out. For example, I’ve never tried to be Leni Riefenstahl (director of Triumph of the Will)!
Finally, could you offer a brief comment on the Visible Secrets: Hong Kong’s Women Filmmakers season?
To be honest, I am not especially pleased to be slotted primarily as a “woman filmmaker”, but it’s okay with me. Plus, I see the relevance and the strength of having a distinctive subject and drift for promotional purposes. Above all, I am glad that my films can be shown and watched in other parts of the world. So thank you all for your efforts and my very best wishes for the success of the event!