Award-winning film explores the 'real riches' of city

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 May, 2011, 12:00am


After winning awards in Berlin, France and Istanbul, director Mo Lai Yan-chi is bringing her short film 1+1 back to the city that inspired the story.

Lai, born and bred in Hong Kong, said the film was inspired by the recent demolition of Tsoi Yuen Tsuen for construction of the high-speed rail link to Guangzhou.

More than that, it is meant to mark and remember the 'various stories and heritage of Hong Kong'.

There will be 10 screenings of the film at the Broadway Cinematheque in Yau Ma Tei from May 19.

The movie features the fast-disappearing old life of Hong Kong, and grapples with the question of what 'real riches' are - community and history - which, Lai says, give us a sense of belonging and identity.

The 35-minute film follows a grandfather and his granddaughter as they plant lucky bamboo - 'rich bamboo' in Chinese translation - at various Hong Kong heritage sites that have been taken down or are threatened with demolition.

'The lucky bamboo signifies blessing and remembrance,' Lai said.

'Tsoi Yuen Tsuen is just a starting inspiration.'

She said the film was about all the local culture, heritage areas and unique living communities in Hong Kong that are facing extinction because of redevelopment.

'These places may be old and maybe, physically, a new building will generate more money, but these places have cultural capital that is worth so much more than just hard money,' Lai said.

She believes that preservation is needed not only for 'old and grand colonial buildings', but for the lifestyles and communities in a locality.

Banky Yeung Ping-kei, 1+1's co-writer, said: 'How often do we remember, let alone record the stories of Hong Kong? The various objects in the film - like the bamboo - are symbols. It is about remembering and preserving the unique stories and histories in this land.'

Previously, Lai had only worked on documentaries. 1+1 is her first film with a plot, and she is excited about the attention it garnered at various overseas competitions last year.

It also won best picture and film at the local Fresh Wave Short Film Competition, initiated by film director Johnnie To Kei-fung to cultivate and motivate local talent.

Filming took 15 days - a long time for an independent short film. The production team visited many heritage sites, from the construction site which used to be Queens Pier in Central, to Tsoi Yuen Tsuen.

Tickets cost HK$38, which includes a half-hour discussion panel with the director and guest stars.