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Conference Paper: In Search of the Disappearing Rhymes: Topographical Writings in Three Hong Kong Documentary Films

TitleIn Search of the Disappearing Rhymes: Topographical Writings in Three Hong Kong Documentary Films
Authors
Issue Date2018
Citation
International Conference on “Documentary Film: Regional, Theoretical & Political Parameters,” organized by Academy of Film, School of Communication on June 25-27, 2018 at Hong Kong Baptist University. How to Cite?
AbstractThere is a type of eco-film that employs documentary to record a vanishing culture and history, to link the land with memories and traditions, and to celebrate Hong Kong’s cultural heritage. Examples include Jessey Tsang’s Flowing Stories (2014), Chi-hang Ma’s Ballad on the Shore (2017), and Fredie Ho-lun Chan’s Rhymes of Shui Hau (2017). All these documentaries celebrate the value of the traditions associated with certain locales, and underscore the interweaving of nature and culture. They juxtapose the loss of nature in the name of development with the disappearance of culture and history. The land that has vanished from Hong Kong and the observers of traditional customs, be they language, rituals, or natural scenery, who have died are both to be mourned. The documentaries pose questions such as, What if we lose the last woman who possesses the ability to speak the Shui Hau/Wai Tou dialect? What will happen if we fail to appreciate, document, and recognize the importance and beauty of a history that is threatened with extinction? In Flowing Stories, Jessey Tsang revisits her home, presents us with an alternative view of Hong Kong, and undermines urban discourse by mobilizing water as a trope. Flowing Stories challenges the domination of the urban landscape in Hong Kong cinema by shifting the focus to the countryside and village life that have been underrepresented in mainstream cinema. Similarly, documentaries such as Rhymes of Shui Hau and Ballad on the Shore explore the interconnection of nature and cultural imaginations. Nature is portrayed as the source of our cultural lineage and the embodiment of our personal memories. When we return to nature, our personal memories become points of cultural reference. This interest in preserving history and tracing one’s origins was also evident in the rise of ethnographic studies of Hong Kong’s early history in the 1980s. While independent filmmakers share the historians’ interest in documenting the past through oral histories and archives, there is a cross-generational current present in the films that is lacking in scholarly works. It is through the connection between the young filmmakers and the old interviewees in these documentaries that the themes of persistence and dissemination are made explicit. The eco-turn is also a new turn in identity politics, one that stems from self-awareness and personal engagement.
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/261327

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorYee, WLM-
dc.date.accessioned2018-09-14T08:56:21Z-
dc.date.available2018-09-14T08:56:21Z-
dc.date.issued2018-
dc.identifier.citationInternational Conference on “Documentary Film: Regional, Theoretical & Political Parameters,” organized by Academy of Film, School of Communication on June 25-27, 2018 at Hong Kong Baptist University.-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/261327-
dc.description.abstractThere is a type of eco-film that employs documentary to record a vanishing culture and history, to link the land with memories and traditions, and to celebrate Hong Kong’s cultural heritage. Examples include Jessey Tsang’s Flowing Stories (2014), Chi-hang Ma’s Ballad on the Shore (2017), and Fredie Ho-lun Chan’s Rhymes of Shui Hau (2017). All these documentaries celebrate the value of the traditions associated with certain locales, and underscore the interweaving of nature and culture. They juxtapose the loss of nature in the name of development with the disappearance of culture and history. The land that has vanished from Hong Kong and the observers of traditional customs, be they language, rituals, or natural scenery, who have died are both to be mourned. The documentaries pose questions such as, What if we lose the last woman who possesses the ability to speak the Shui Hau/Wai Tou dialect? What will happen if we fail to appreciate, document, and recognize the importance and beauty of a history that is threatened with extinction? In Flowing Stories, Jessey Tsang revisits her home, presents us with an alternative view of Hong Kong, and undermines urban discourse by mobilizing water as a trope. Flowing Stories challenges the domination of the urban landscape in Hong Kong cinema by shifting the focus to the countryside and village life that have been underrepresented in mainstream cinema. Similarly, documentaries such as Rhymes of Shui Hau and Ballad on the Shore explore the interconnection of nature and cultural imaginations. Nature is portrayed as the source of our cultural lineage and the embodiment of our personal memories. When we return to nature, our personal memories become points of cultural reference. This interest in preserving history and tracing one’s origins was also evident in the rise of ethnographic studies of Hong Kong’s early history in the 1980s. While independent filmmakers share the historians’ interest in documenting the past through oral histories and archives, there is a cross-generational current present in the films that is lacking in scholarly works. It is through the connection between the young filmmakers and the old interviewees in these documentaries that the themes of persistence and dissemination are made explicit. The eco-turn is also a new turn in identity politics, one that stems from self-awareness and personal engagement.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.relation.ispartofInternational Conference on “Documentary Film: Regional, Theoretical & Political Parameters,” organized by Academy of Film, School of Communication on June 25-27, 2018 at Hong Kong Baptist University.-
dc.titleIn Search of the Disappearing Rhymes: Topographical Writings in Three Hong Kong Documentary Films-
dc.typeConference_Paper-
dc.identifier.emailYee, WLM: yeelmw@hku.hk-
dc.identifier.authorityYee, WLM=rp01401-
dc.identifier.hkuros290693-

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