HK: Are you comfortable being called an artist these days?
Wing Shya: I used to see myself more as a designer and I wasn’t totally at ease being called a photographer. Whenever I filled in arrival cards, I would write “designer” in the occupation box. Only recently did I start putting “photographer” there. Actually, I don’t really know how to address myself. Calling myself an artist is a bit scary...
Wing Shya is best known for his photographic work in Wong Kar-wai’s “2046” and “Happy Together.” Recently, however, he’s gained notoriety as a “subversive” artist. He tells Winnie Chau how acupuncture and sailors inspire him.
In May last year, local film distributors refused to take up the first picture by a Hong Kong director ever to win an Oscar. Ruby Yang’s “The Blood of Yinzhou District” had just won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject, yet nobody seemed interested. While some attributed this to the film’s bold subject—AIDS-afflicted orphans in central China—the director herself put it down largely to the film’s brevity.
The InDPanda Short Film Festival proves that short films are more than just YouTube videos.
Bruce Lee’s death from cerebral edema on Jul 20, 1973 famously prompted a swirl of feverish speculation. He overdosed on cannabis or painkillers, said some, dropped dead during sex or intensive training, murmured others. He was murdered by local triads, US hitmen, Shaolin monks, or Japanese ninjas. He faked his death and was hanging out with Elvis.
Bruce Lee is a Hong Kong legend, but you wouldn’t know it looking around town. John Robertson wonders what we’re doing to preserve his legacy.
It doesn’t get more real in Hong Kong than the movies. Certain movies, anyway. Not the dozen or so triad galmorizations every year, or the equally heavyhanded “historical” epics these days, fun as those can be. We’re talking about the genuine slice-of-life films – the realist films – found across the last half-century of local cinema. Films about the everyday trials and triumphs of both the marginalized and the masses. About men who sleep in cages, schoolgirls forced to work the streets, policemen struggling with temptation.
Explore the Hong Kong that was through a new film retrospective
I don’t think I’m an artist—I’m not crazy enough. I could never run half-naked through the snow.
For most of my life, I was quite a logical person. Then I studied abroad in Canada. Everyone at art school there was insane, just loonies. The teachers were all renowned artists who would pass joints around class, and tell us which rooms are best for sex.
My family was very supportive and gave me lots of freedom—just no money. Canada was the cheapest option.
Wing Shya is one of Hong Kong’s best-known photographers, famed for his work with director Wong Kar-wai in “Happy Together,” “In the Mood for Love” and “2046.” He talks about the mixed blessing of inspiration that is Hong Kong.
I was born in a family of six, the second daughter among four sisters. Perhaps my parents were trying for a son... But anyway, they later discovered that girls rule!
My upbringing was very strict. My mom was an English teacher. We were expected to be in the top five of our class. We weren’t allowed to go out at night.
Being born in the middle has actually made me a tough person. People tend to spoil their first kid, and the smaller one usually gets more attention. So the middle ones are ignored from time to time.
Cult film director Barbara Wong has just released ”Happy Funeral,” the sequel to the sleeper hit “Truth or Dare: 6th Floor Rear Flat.” She talks about women, youth, and where they meet in the film industry.
During Form 4, I became determined to become a director. I wasn’t good at anything. I was a failed student. I was not strong enough for heavy labor.
Limited choices have made me who I am today. Many people can’t make up their minds simply because they have too many options.
I have to thank my parents for their harsh advice. They said, “You won’t be good at school. Why don’t you go down to the movie companies and see if you can find anything there?”
Pang Ho-cheung, the director of “Isabella” and “Exodus”, explains why the best road to optimism is a little pessimism.
So you’re one of those cynical philistines who reckons most indie films are either pretentious pieces of crap or completely unwatchable thanks to their excessive use of “shaky cam” and subliminal imagery. Or, maybe you’re just fed up of wasting your creative genius and your new camcorder on your grandmother’s pregnant cat. Well, with the short film festival coming up, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is and enter the wonderful world of budget filmmaking.
Get your gear here
Think you could be a filmmaker, but haven’t a clue where to start? Sam Burrough has everything you need to know to begin your life as the next Wong Kar-wai.
I was born in Hong Kong. My dad is a jewelry merchant and my mom is a housewife.
How was I like as a kid? A beautiful little girl!
I wasn't really that good in school, and I wasn’t popular either. I was just as simple as all the other girls.
My relationship with my family is the same as my friends. My dad inspires me a lot. He’s a man with great taste. He inspired me to study design.
After a long break from acting, singer-actress Kelly Chen returns as a wartime princess in “An Empress and the Warriors.” She talks about why it's good to push it to the limit.