Sundays for Hong Kong II

Films about a ruptured city

Our film series “Sundays for Hong Kong” continues online! From 9 April, we will be presenting four films from the series originally planned for the Gropius Bau – for four weeks.

Many Undulating Things

“Many Undulating Things”. Film still

The cinema campaign “Sundays for Hong Kong” is a sign of sympathy in the face of the violent clashes in Hong Kong since the summer of 2019. Its aim is to present the multifaceted backgrounds of by presenting less known works by remarkable filmmakers from the famous film city of Hong Kong To illuminate the culture, history and reality of life of the former British crown colony.

Early this year, the coronavirus put a damper on Hong Kong’s pro-democratic movements. The spirit of protest, however, stayed alive within the digital realm. After the first wave of corona infections flattened, a kind of normality returned to Hong Kong. Shops, restaurants, sports venues, hotels and clubs reopened, people went back to work and museums were also supposed to reopen soon. However, a large number of businesses, already weakened by months of protests and the closures due to COVID-19, have gone bankrupt.

In March, there were renewed arrests and violent clashes between protesters and police. At the same time, the number of new infections in Hong Kong is once more rising significantly. The second wave of contamination seems to have hit the city. The political and cultural future of Hong Kong appears to be entirely uncertain in the face of the agreement between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the People’s Republic of China (due to expire in 2047), which declared the former British crown colony to be a Chinese Special Administrative Region – and its economic future is now equally unclear.

But which culture are we talking about? What makes Hong Kong’s situation so unique? Which are the similarities with freedom movements in other parts of the world?

Our selected films will hardly be able to give definitive answers to any of these questions. But they will be an opportunity to learn and understand more about the city, its people and its dynamics.

Many Undulating Things

Many Undulating Things. Film still

Many Undulating Things

US/HK/KR 2019
Directors Bo Wang, Pan Lu
125 min, English, Cantonese and Mandarin with English subtitles
Available 9 April, 16:00 – 7 May, 15:59

Colonial air, native plants, botanic empire, segregation, entrepôt, steel-and-glass, shopping malls, memories, laissez-faire, ghost houses, speculation ... many undulating things. The social and urban transformation of Hong Kong is at the centre of this poetic documentary, which examines the relationships between landscape, nature, urbanisation and society.

The film begins and ends in a shopping centre in Hong Kong. We carefully observe the smooth movement of the escalators, the constant flow of people that never stops, the musical fountain that presides over the centre of the internal courtyard, as if this gigantic complex could concentrate the circulation of the entire city, or even, the entire country. From there, it will be more a tale about concrete, enormous port warehouses, glazed galleries built for universal exhibitions, overpopulated tower blocks, the fragments of still recent colonialism. “Many Undulating Things” questions the role of cities in the globalized capitalist system.

Bo Wang

is an artist and filmmaker based between the Netherlands and China. At his undergraduate, he studied physics and mathematics at Tsinghua University, Beijing, where he also got his Master’s in cosmology. He later studied at School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Masters in photography, video and related media. As an artist, his works have been exhibited internationally, including venues like Guggenheim Museum and Museum of Modern Art in New York, Garage Museum in Moscow, Rotterdam Film Festival in the Netherlands, Visions du Réel in Switzerland, Image Forum Festival in Tokyo, Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art in Yekaterinburg, DMZ Docs in South Korea, CPH:DOX in Copenhagen, Times Museum in Guangzhou, BOZAR in Brussels, among many others. He received a fellowship from the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar in 2013, and was an artist-in-residency at ACC-Rijksakademie 2017–2018 as well as NTU CCA in 2016.

Pan Lu

is Assistant Professor at Department of Chinese Culture, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She was visiting scholar and visiting fellow at the Technical University of Berlin (2008 and 2009), the Harvard-Yenching Institute (2011–2012), researcher in residence at Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (2016) and visiting scholar at Taipei National University of the Arts (2018). Pan is author of two monographs: “In-Visible Palimpsest: Memory, Space and Modernity in Berlin and Shanghai” (Bern: Peter Lang, 2016) and “Aestheticizing Public Space: Street Visual Politics in East Asian Cities” (Bristol: Intellect, 2015). She translated “Über das Neue” by Boris Groys into Chinese (2018, Chongqing University Press). Her films, co-directed with Bo Wang, include “Traces of an Invisible City” (2016), “Miasma, Plants and Export Paintings” (2017), which received Award for Excellence, 32nd Image Forum Festival, Tokyo, Japan, and “Many Undulating Things” (2019). She was one of the curators of Kuandu Biennale, Taipei, 2018.

“Hong Kong has never been in equilibrium. It has always been built on contingency, accidents and has developed out of disasters and traumas, one after another.”

Interview with film director Bo Wang on the Berliner Festspiele Blog

Not One Less

Not One Less. Film still

Not One Less

HK 2019
Directors Kanas Liu, Sam Tsang
15 min, Cantonese and English with Chinese and English subtitles
Available 9 April, 16:00 – 7 May, 15:59

The documentary “Not One Less” records the clash in Hong Kong Island on 31 August, 2019, and the assembly on Mid-Autumn festival night supporting protestors in custody. The protests initiated by the “Extradition Bil” has continued for more than 100 days. In this period, over 1000 citizens were arrested, a number of people committed suicide, and there are rumors that some protestors are missing. In the clash scene, protestors strive to protect their comrades from being isolated. After the clash, they still care about their comrades in custody. On the mid-autumn festival night, they sang loudly outside the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre, to let their comrades know that they were not abandoned.

Kanas Liu

was born in Hong Kong in 1986. She studied Cultural Sciences at the city’s Lingnan University and shot two documentaries about the so-called Umbrella Movement and five other films about the protests in Hong Kong in 2019. Her film “Comrades” was screened as part of Generation 14plus at the 2020 Berlinale Film Festival.

The Aqueous Truth

The Aqueous Truth. Film still

The Aqueous Truth

HK 2013
Director Chan Tze Woon
30 min, Cantonese and English with Chinese and English subtitles
Available 9 April, 16:00 – 7 May, 15:59

A group of documentary filmmakers and independent reporters accidentally find something that Hong Kong people do not know, but which affects them significantly. They investigate the matter by using their cameras. As they approach the truth, danger beckons.This is not simply a documentary produced by one person, the audience is invited to complete it. Before and after the handing-over of the sovereignty to China, Hong Kong people have been living in a sense of political insecurity. The Aqueous Truth attempts to use a documentary style to provoke and explore this feeling.

Chan Tze Woon

After obtaining a degree in Policy Studies, Chan Tze-woon pursued Master of Fine Arts: Film Production in Baptist University of Hong Kong. His first two works, “The Aqueous Truth” (2013) and “Being Rain: Representation and Will” (2014), play with a conspiring plot and mocumentary form in portraying Hong Kong's political climate. The latter work earned him the Best Creativity Award in Freshwave International Short Film Festival 2014, and was also selected as finalist in IFVA Award. In 2016 he released his first featured length documentary “Yellowing”, the film was nominated for Best Documentary in the 53rd Taiwan Golden Horse Award and won the Shinsuke Ogawa Award at the 15th Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival.

“In 2020 we don’t need conspiracy theories anymore, it’s obvious that they are pointing their guns at our heads.”

Interview with film director Chan Tze Woon on the Berliner Festspiele Blog

Reunification

Reunification. Film still

Reunification

HK 2015
Director Alvin Tsang
85 min, English and Cantonese with English subtitles
Available 9 April, 16:00 – 7 May, 15:59

Director Alvin Tsang reflects on his family’s migration from Hong Kong to Los Angeles in the early 1980s – fraught with betrayal from his parents’ divorce, economic strife and communication meltdown between parents and children. Filmed over a 17-year period, this award-winning documentary gives an insider view on the contemporary American immigrant experience, family psychology, and personal filmmaking.

This poetic exploration moves moodily across different channels and modes, bending into labor histories and Hong Kong's colonial trajectories. Tsang turns the camera on his own family, cautiously prodding for answers, but fully acknowledging that the only closure he can get will be from deciding for himself how to move on. When his mother and two siblings first immigrated from Hong Kong to Los Angeles in the early 1980s, six-year-old Alvin was forced to stay behind with his working, and consequently absent, father. Spending the following three years often alone in an empty apartment, he longed for his family’s reunification. However, upon Alvin and his father’s arrival to America, that dream was utterly and permanently shattered under circumstances the filmmaker has yet to fully comprehend to this day.

Alvin Tsang

is a filmmaker and artist based in New York City. His work explores the more personal human experience to inform on bigger issues such as humanism, community and migration. His award-winning documentary “Reunification” (2015), about memories of migration and Tsang’s once intact family, was lauded for “explor[ing] the past with a Proustian sensitivity” (The Boston Globe), its “clear-eyed honesty” (Meredith Monk), and being “the film that’s come closest to feeling like a truly distinct Asian-American [film] language [in 2015]” (Salon).

“I felt like I was riding on this material like a boat and going home”

Interview with film director Alvin Tsang on the Berliner Festspiele Blog