Evans Chan Yiu-shing's directorial debut came at a critical point in Hong Kong's history. When the US-educated critic-turned-filmmaker began production for To Liv(e) in 1991, the city was in a state of confusion, with the population still ambivalent about the 1997 handover while the colonial authorities struggled to resolve the Vietnamese boatpeople problem.
Chan's film - to be screened on April 29 at the Hong Kong Arts Centre as part of a retrospective of the director's work - looks at how these two issues are manifestations of the same notion of cultural dislocation, at home and away. The two couples in the film are victims of this malaise: John (Fung Kin-chung) is an anglicised Chinese living in denial of his own ancestry while his mixed-blood wife Rubie (Lindzay Chan) gets agitated by international criticism of Hong Kong's repatriation of the boatpeople.
Meanwhile, Rubie's younger brother Tony (Anthony Wong Yiu-ming) is planning to leave for the US with his older divorced girlfriend, Teresa (Josephine Koo Mei-wah), but Rubie disapproves.
Tony and Teresa are so different they could be seen as representing Hong Kong's attempt to adapt to mainland ways. The balance of power might have changed today - Hong Kong, so jaded and fatigued, is more a Teresa than a Tony - but To Liv(e) remains an interesting document of the times.
To Liv(e), Apr 29, 2.30pm, Hong Kong Arts Centre