Ann Hui, a director who captures ordinary women's lives

By Pang Li
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, April 15, 2010
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Director Ann Hui

Director Ann Hui 

In 2009, veteran director Ann Hui won the best director award for her movie The Way We Are at the 28th Hong Kong Film Awards. It was the third time that she had been honored at Hong Kong's highest film awards.

The Way We Are (Tin shui wai dik yat yu ye), which cost a mere 1 million HK dollars (US$129 thousand) to make, tells the kind of story Ann Hui is affectionately familiar with, the life of an ordinary family. The movie revolves around two women living in Tin Shui Wai, a district of Hong Kong. In addition to best director, the movie also won best actress (Paw Hee Ching), best supporting actress (Chan Lai-wun), and best screenplay (Luo Shiu-wa).

The accolades made the 63-year-old director very happy. "I had lost enthusiasm for making movies after following commercial production routines for many years. I felt I was repeating myself all the time… Then I thought why not make a movie that I like and see how it is received. So I did this movie (The Way We Are). It let me know I am still able to make nice works," she told the Sanlian Life Weekly magazine.

As for the recurring theme of woman's lives in her works, she said, "The reason that I so often tell women's stories in my movies is because I find it very easy to put myself in their shoes. For me, my identity as a woman does not mean feminism, but a way of thinking and a perspective of looking at the world. I cannot avoid that."

"In fact, I don't want to express anything on purpose in my movies. I just follow my own feelings. Inevitably, my opinions and attitudes become a part of my works. But they are never planned. I don't want to cater to anything," she said.

In 2009, Ann Hui made another family drama set in Tin Shui Wai, Night and Fog (Tin shui wai dik ye yu mo). It has received three nominations for the 29th Hong Kong Film Awards, to be held in April 2010.

A poster of the movie 'The Way We Are'

A poster of the movie "The Way We Are"

Ann Hui is one of the most prominent directors in Hong Kong. She was considered a leader of the Hong Kong New Wave in late 1970s and 1980s. In 1979, she made her first feature The Secret (Fung gip), a highly acclaimed movie considered to be the curtain raiser of the Hong Kong New Wave. Since then, she has directed many well-received movies such as Song of the Exile (Ke tu qiu hen, 1990), Summer Snow (Nu ren si shi, 1994), Ordinary Heroes (Qian yan wan yu, 1998) and The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (Yi ma de hou xian dai sheng huo, 2006).

She has a reputation for being able to balance commercial appeal with artistry. She says she likes to challenge herself and has tried her hand at most genres ranging through thrillers, family drama, action movies and documentaries. She has done well in all of them.

Not all her experiments have succeeded. Love in a Fallen City (Qing cheng zhi lian, 1984) and Goddess of Mercy (Yu guanyin, 2003) flopped. Two kung fu movies adapted from Louis Cha's novels, The Romance of Book and Sword (Shu jian en chou lu, 1987) and Princess Fragrance (Xiang xiang gong zhu, 1987) were not well received, either.

Ann Hui was born to a Japanese mother and Chinese father in Anshan, Liaoning Province in 1947. She moved to Macao, then to Hong Kong at the age of five. She studied film making at the London International Film School. After returning to Hong Kong in 1975, she joined TVB, one of Hong Kong's major TV networks, where she produced serials and documentaries. Before making her own movies she worked as an assistant to King Hu, a master director of kung fu movies.

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