Celebrate the mutual understanding and shared values that the film industry brings us
- Links between Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland filmmakers are vital to building mutual trust and relationships
The controversy created during the Golden Horse awards ceremony continues to send ripples across the Chinese film world. There is no doubt that the damage caused by a speech by Taiwanese documentary maker Fu Yue on the island’s political status was real – it led to the live broadcast being interrupted across mainland China, while jury chair Gong Li refused to present the award for best feature film. The incident could have serious repercussions: mainland films may not appear in the awards, dubbed the “Chinese Oscars”, and cross-strait film production could stop altogether.
This would be truly regrettable given the harmony and integration that exist in today’s cross-strait film industry, and would be a saddening moment for filmmakers and for the audience at large.
There exist many differences in ideology, values and cultural concepts across the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, but films make for a common platform to bridge these gaps and promote exchanges.
There are now numerous famous filmmakers that hail from both sides of the straits, after more than 30 years of exchanges and cooperation in investment, technology, talent and experience. This has resulted in blockbusters such as The Founding of an Army, Ip Man, Bodyguards and Assassins and Operation Red Sea, which blend unique shooting techniques and concepts from all three cities, and are massive box office successes. Awards such as the Golden Rooster Awards, Hong Kong Film Awards and Golden Horse Awards are therefore not only a platform for promoting Chinese-language films to the world, but also an excellent link for cultural exchanges between the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The integration between Hong Kong and the mainland in film and television has existed for the longest time. Hong Kong films, songs, literary works and celebrities are to a large extent ambassadors for the city. Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-fat, Stephen Chow, Leslie Cheung and the “Four Heavenly Kings” – Jacky Cheung, Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok and Leon Lai – are well-known across the mainland. Compatriots there got to understand Hong Kong through these cultural icons, reducing the psychological distance between the two locations. The recent passing of wuxia novelist and essayist Jin Yong is another example, triggering collective mourning across the Chinese world.
Moreover, in recent years Hong Kong directors and actors have increased cooperation and integration with the mainland through the so-called northern drift. Their films show shared feelings and bring together hearts and minds and cultural identity, helping form a solid foundation for the future development of the Chinese-language film and television industry.
The Hong Kong film industry enjoyed its glory days in the 1980s and 1990s, producing many classic film and television works as well as popular songs. Today, the tide has turned with works of disparate quality and an annual output less than half that of the heyday. While veterans of the film and television industry remain active in the mainland, the new expanded industry is also perfect for young people seeking to realise their dreams. To build on the well-integrated filmmaking ecosystem, and to revive the glory days of the “Hollywood of the East”, we will need the support of governmental policies, guidance from our predecessors, as well as action from the younger generation. We should cherish the state of harmony that is enjoyed by the industry now, and look to expand the scope of exchanges and collaboration, striving to produce even greater masterpieces.
Films are works of art and a glue between cultures, and I truly hope that everyone will stay true to their passion and intent in pursuing filmmaking, and will break new ground and then pass on their skills for generations to come.
Ken Chu is group chairman and CEO of Mission Hills Group and a national committee member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference