The Hong Kong International Film Festival and Women in Filmmaking
Updated: Jul 30, 2019
by Emily Z
In March 2019, I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Hong Kong through Flinders University to attend the 43rd Hong Kong International Film Festival. It was an amazing privilege and honestly one of the most incredible experiences of my life so far.
I got to spend a whirlwind two weeks in Hong Kong, seeing 20 films at the film festival while given plenty of independence to explore this sensational city. I was astounded by the entirety of the festival, the wide range of films, the gala premiere event I attended for Stanley Kwan’s First Night Nerves and being able to enjoy a sense of communal joy as I sat alongside strangers enjoying remarkable films from around the world.
This feeling is also what I love about SAGA. Being a media student and a SAGA volunteer since last year, when we launched in Adelaide, I’ve really found that the aspect I am most passionate about is the element of storytelling. People are given the ability to share their stories and those from all different cultural backgrounds can come together and witness something extraordinary.
Before the festival, while deciding on my schedule, I paid attention to female filmmakers and overall saw seven films that were directed by women. Out of these, my favourites were Our Body (Han Ka-ram, 2018), Still Human (Oliver Chan Siu-kuen, 2018) and The Crossing (Bai Xue, 2018).
These films were led by talented female directors and told varying stories. Our Body focused on young women, their relationship and struggling to find your place in society. Still Human focused on a disabled man and his carer who overcome their issues and a language barrier to strengthen their own relationships and to work together to pursue her dream. The Crossing focuses on a teenage girl as she gets caught up in carrying phones across the border between China and Hong Kong, illegally, and follows the twists and turns in her relationships and personal life as this becomes a part of her life.
Personally, Our Body felt the most relatable to me as a twenty-something, about to be a university graduate, struggling to figure out my place and identity in society. It focused on the character of Ja-young as her mother pressured her to complete her exam and get a job and “be successful”. One night, the character of Hyun-joo literally runs into her life and changes everything for her. The focus on this film is on comparison and how it’s so easy to look at others and think that they have their life sorted out perfectly.
This film is an important reminder that we all do life at our own pace and everybody has their own struggles. A quote from Maya Angelou that I recently read stood out to me as it expresses how to find true belonging.
“You are only free when you realize that you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”
This connects with what SAGA itself stands for. We showcase films from women all around the world who are trying to find a place for their voice and step out and speak out on important issues or to express their own experiences in this world. Travelling is an amazing way to learn more about yourself, experience new cultures and understand more about belonging in such a vast world.
SAGA Adelaide: WIFF
To learn more about The Hong Kong International Film Festival go to: https://www.hkiff.org.hk/