December 2002


Hong Kong in Transition, followup    In 1997, Visual Artists Guild produced a documentary, titled "Hong Kong in Transition" in probing the views of the Hong Kong people towards the impending return to China of the British colony of Hong Kong. The documentary interviewed a number of Hong Kong politicians, both pro-democracy and pro-Beijing, as well as journalists, businessmen and ordinary citizens. Last December, the documentary's executive producer Robert Branch, and the director, Ann Lau, visited Hong Kong to gauge what changes have happened since their last trip there and to prepare for a follow-up documentary. Article 23 (please see other article in this newsletter) was the topic of the day. While many young people are against Article 23 and joined in the world-wide protest, the pro-Article 23 government team worked hard to conduct a rally a week later. Using the tactics of authoritarian governments, busloads of retirees were promised a field trip and lunch if they attended the pro-government rally. Many of the senior citizens interviewed could not identify what they were there for.

The revisionist historic kung fu film "Hero" by famed director Zhang Yimou was playing in Hong Kong at the time. It was disheartening to see the usually boisterous Hong Kong audience came out of the theater deadly somber. The message of "Hero" was to submit to tyranny for the sake of a China ruling all under the heavens. Yet the film was nominated by the Academy for best foreign film this year. One wonders why an Academy that celebrates the human spirits of films like "Life is Beautiful" and "The Pianist" would find a film that endorses submission to tyranny as worthy of their attention. Did China's propaganda machine totally fooled Miramax which bought the film for 30 million U.S. dollars?