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When Ann Hui was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Film Festival three years ago and presented the star-studded Love After Love (2020), it was hard to imagine then Hui’s next film: Elegies, a documentary on the largely overlooked topic of Hong Kong poetry. Although Hui has stated that she is revisiting an earlier interest in poetry, the English title, Elegies, which differs from the Chinese title meaning ‘poetry’, hints at a deeper meaning. Hsi Hsi and Yesi, two poets whose work is covered in the documentary, have already passed away, while Huang Canran and Liu Waitong, the two poets central to the film, have since left Hong Kong. Although the life of a poet in Hong Kong is a difficult one, the pursuit of distinctly modern, local identity in Hong Kong poetry has been a remarkable success. In 1997, Hui’s documentary As Time Goes By reflected on both the personal and the historical; now, as Hong Kong faces another historical transition, the release of Elegies seems far from coincidental. As we see in Elegies, poetry reflects our faith and aspirations.
On 18 November, Ann Hui will be in conversation with Huang Canran and Liu Waitong, both of whom are poets featured in Elegies. The talk will be moderated by M+ Curator-at-large of Hong Kong Film and Media Li Cheuk-to.
About the Director
Ann Hui (b. 1947, Liaoning) started her film career as a key figure of the Hong Kong New Wave. Her experiences span across genres and her work has constantly committed to realism. Her debut film The Secret (1971) takes inspiration from a real-life murder case, while the award-winning Boat People (1982) depicts the reality of Vietnamese refugees. Her work often features autobiographical elements. In Song of the Exile (1990) and As Time Goes By (1997), she reflects on her memories and ponders the arduous search for one’s roots as a speck in the sea of history. She has also shown a deep interest in the stories of the common people in Hong Kong, such as in The Way We Are (2008) and Night and Fog (2009). She has been named Best Director by the Hong Kong Film Awards six times for her works Boat People, Summer Snow (1995), The Way We Are, A Simple Life (2011), The Golden Era (2014), and Our Time Will Come (2017).
Image at top: Ann Hui. Elegies, 2023. Photo: Courtesy of Golden Scene Co. Ltd.