Although a full decade has passed since Hong Kong was reunified with the motherland, many mainlanders are still curious about the city.
For instance, many of them wonder about the lives of the commuters who moved from Hong Kong to Shenzhen after the 24-hour customs clearance policy was adopted in 2003. Others want to know how Hong Kong's film industry is exploring the mainland market. Or, they are curious about how popular mandarin actually is in the city. And still others wonder what Hong Kong's horseracing culture is really like and how British people who stayed after the reunification feel about the changes they've seen.
A 10-part TV documentary entitled New Hong Kong Story (Xin Xianggang Gushi) about the realities of Hong Kong's last decade is intended to shed light on these questions and more.
The documentary, which will run on CCTV's main news channel at 9:30 PM every night until June 29, took director Tian Chuan and his crew about a year to film.
They spent six months in Hong Kong, where they interviewed 150 people from various walks of life to show what the last decade's changes have meant for them.
The series' narrative style sets it apart from other TV documentaries about the city, Tian says. Each of the 40-minute episodes features the stories of three or four people who give first-hand accounts of the changes they've experienced in their lives over the past decade.
"Hong Kong people are the best candidates to tell what they have experienced over the past 10 years," Tian says. "We will not speak for them with the voiceover."
Among the 150 interviewees are many elites, such as Chairman and Chief Executive of the Bank of East Asia David Li Kwok-po, film director Stanley Tong and internationally acclaimed cinematographer Christopher Doyle.
But Tian denies that they are over-representing the elite class in the show. The first episode deals with two inspectors - one in Shenzhen port and another in Hong Kong. Conversation between these two officials centers around how they built a friendship by drinking wine. Other episodes feature ordinary people and tackle serious issues such as the city's tolerance for various cultures and local people's search for identity.
"We don't make it a point to divide the interviewees into the categories of 'elite' or 'ordinary' in the series," Tian says. "We tell stories of people's lives - all kinds of people."
Every episode is followed with a two-minute segment featuring interesting local customs and recreational activities common in the city. These snapshots show the Goldfinch Restaurant, where some scenes of In the Mood for Love and 2046 were shot, popular local desserts, eagles flying the city's skies and old opera houses.
"We hope that when audiences finish the series, they will remember some of the vivid stories or even some of the details," Tian says. "Because history is made up of one person's personal stories combined with another person's personal stories."
(China Daily June 23, 2007)