Hong Kong’s diverse landscape and cultural make-up are what draw filmmakers and videographers from around the world to the city. “What makes Hong Kong so unique is its dynamism,” shares Clarence Tsui, a renowned film critic and the director of arthouse cinema Broadway Cinematheque. “From the early hours of the morning to ungodly hours of the night, there’s always something happening in the city,” he adds.
According to Tsui, Hong Kong is a metropolis where everything comes together from different historical epochs and cultural backgrounds. The neighbourhood of Yau Tsim Mong, in particular, reflects this. The location is a stark contrast of old and new, where people from various backgrounds converge, bringing cultural diversity to the community. “Yau Tsim Mong has elements of local culture embodied by wet markets, tenement blocks, and cha chaan tengs [local cafes], which make obvious landmarks to our friends from overseas,” Tsui explains. “But it’s also how these things brush shoulders with something very different.” From wet markets that sit next to high-rises and decades-old tenement buildings overshadowed by large shopping malls, these characteristics are what make Yau Tsim Mong one of the most unique filming locations in the city.
For Tsui, the 1999 film Little Cheung directed by Fruit Chan reveals the very essence of Yau Tsim Mong. "The movie shows a very riveting and quipping take on everyday life in one of the most dynamic neighbourhoods in the city," he shares. Following the life of a young boy who lives on Temple Street, the film captured what life was like back then in Yau Tsim Mong, and, in a way, it still is today.
Similar insights can also be found in movies such as Shock Wave 2, which gave its audience a glimpse of what a typical apartment along Temple Street might look like — though, without any of the bomb movie props. The music video for Labyrinth by Mondo Grosso is also a fitting example that showcased the area in its truest form by revealing a lesser-known side of the lively night market where the streets were comparatively bare as market stalls began to pack up for the night.
To better understand the neighbourhood and its cultural significance in the cinematic world, Tsui recommends visiting Broadway Cinematheque not only for its interesting architecture but also for the cinema and bookshop, which showcases some of the best and most creative works in the film industry. Alternatively, Tsui also suggests visiting the Yau Ma Tei Market on Kansu Street. “The space can be adapted for all sorts of stories,” explains Tsui. “The building itself is a symbol of what Yau Ma Tei is about — ordinary people trying to lead their sometimes mundane, but always dynamic lives. This is a spot awaiting discovery by filmmakers and cinematographers, local and abroad.”Read More +
Written by Time Out Hong Kong
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