Contemporary Hong Kong Cinema

This module explores Hong Kong cinema from the mid-1980s up to the present – an era whose beginning witnesses the international breakthrough of a new wave of local filmmakers, and which goes on to encompass the early 1990s’ production surge, the 1997 handover to mainland China, the crippling economic crisis, and the outbreak of the SARS virus. The module will give you the opportunity to develop an understanding of a number of basic industrial, aesthetic, social and cultural trends marking Hong Kong films in the contemporary era. These include the emergence and impact of independent production; the rise of ‘high-concept’ filmmaking; the movement toward pan-Asian co-productions; the importance and cross-marketing of star performers and local musical traditions such as Cantopop; the popularity of genres like the swordplay film; and aesthetic tendencies such as episodic plotting and the narrative ‘thematisation’ of politics and identity. Emphasis will be placed not only on representative mainstream product, but also on the emergence of a distinct Hong Kong art cinema, whose presence and success on the international festival circuit has brought artistic credibility to a predominantly popular cinema, and which has heralded the arrival of a fresh wave of local ‘auteur’ filmmakers.