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Filmmaker in Focus Stanley Kwan - Face to Face [HKIFF45]

Andrew Chan Edward Lam HKIFF Stanley Kwan


Filmmaker in Focus Stanley Kwan - Face to Face [HKIFF45]

Reviewed as part of 45th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2021 by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)

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Being one of the standout directors of our generation with an expertise in directing women roles that creates multi dimensional characters, Stanley Kwan have graced our screens with plenty of all time classics. The epic masterpiece “Center Stage” was created at only 33 years old and directing 26 year old Maggie Cheung in a Berlin Film Festival winning performance. Over the years Kwan have become a director who constantly communicate to the audience, himself and the actors through the film medium. It is this constant communication that creates the Kwan’s legacy of films and beyond.

For the 45th Hong Kong International Film Festival, Edward Lam sits down with Stanley Kwan as part of the filmmaker in focus in the face to face session. Kwan opens with plenty of praises for Maggie Cheung in “Center Stage” and he recalls how the initial premiere 30 years ago ended up with wooden cinema seats flapping during the film at 1/3 mark and half way thru. It indicates as Lam suggests that the Hong Kong audience at the time may not fully appreciate the masterpiece that Kwan was trying to portray. In filming in post modern manner switching between reality and film, Kwan tests the audience patience and as he recalls, at an earlier HKIFF screening a decade ago, he was met with a standing ovation.

Lam asks Kwan, which actress in his films that best resonance himself. Kwan expresses admiration for Anita Mui as her personality being closest to his heart. In “Rouge”, Kwan always felt Mui was outstanding and they wanted to film the sequel to “Rouge” before her passing. Another actress that Kwan associates very closely to Mui, will be the award winning Elaine Jin (“Women” and “Love Unto Waste”). Jin as Kwan would say have the the air of righteous and innate quality that makes her memorable and courageous on and off screen.

Moving on to the box office disappointment of “Everlasting Regret”, Lam mentions how the film feels a lot better years on and suggested to the festival to have additional screenings. Kwan goes on to say that every character in his films resembles a version of himself at that point in time and in essence it is like a constant dialogue and communication between himself, the film medium and the audience. He also alludes his films as romance, and each film he makes he pours his heart and soul into it, similarly to a romantic relationship.

The session ended with Kwan expression for the future of Hong Kong cinema and the next generations of directors. As Lam points out there may be no more Hong Kong stars, Kwan simply says that there are still many stories to be told in Hong Kong and with all the happenings, there are many love stories within these times that the next generations of directors should focus on.

There are plenty of wonderfully restored classics of Kwan’s works being shown at this year’s HKIFF.


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