Ka-Fai Yau

Department of Comparative Literature
Stanford University

"Molding & Out-Molding/Outmoding Hong Kong: 1997 as a cinematic intervention"
for Post-1997 Hong Kong Cultural Studies Conference, UCLA

This paper canvasses the way Hong Kong cinema became modern, at the moment and the place when/where it had to come up with new cinematic images in response to new geo-historical situations. I call it a minor Hong Kong cinema in the sense that it is a cinema that deterritorializes within the heart of what is considered major. This minor cinema is not at all just a cinema at the margin. It is rather a strategy to conceptualize and develop certain suggestive examples in order to respond to specific geo-historical situations. An in our present case, I will consider how 1997 can be both a cliche demarcation and an intervention into prevailing discourses in the context of cinema. In view of the fact that this minor cinema cannot represent Hong Kong cinema, it also highlights the potentialities of Hong Kong cinema that cannot be covered by dominant discourses. This paper focuses upon the films of several Hong Kong directors. In these films, 1997 is neither the beginning of recollections nor the end of Hong Kong. They dwell upon the failed, the vanished and the under-represented to make Hong Kong appear at the intriguing moment 1997, as well as explore new perspectives in re-channeling Hong Kong and its histories. These appearances are not evidences of existences, but reminders of neglected existences. These cinematic images initiate upcoming accesses to seeing otherwise, through which the minor Hong Kong cinema can respond to Hong Kong's geo-historical situations. It is through these responsive images that we can indeed see a modern Hong Kong cinema.


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