This introduction chapter outlines the theoretical framework of the book, and the methodological potential of the act of “screening,” when exploring the interplay between image and idea, politics and culture, film talent and audience in postwar Hong Kong film culture. While concepts of reflecting and viewing imply a unidirectional relationship between film and subject, the author argues that “screening” focuses more on the processes through which cinema contributed to the building of Hong Kong’s postwar community and identity. By using the double meaning of “screening” as both revealing and concealing, the author argues that postwar Hong Kong cinema—which in this book include 1950s and 1960s official documentary films, leftist family melodrama, and youth films— both conceals the anxieties of the British colonial government during the Cold War, and exposes the different narratives constructed by local filmmakers about what it means to be Chinese citizens during the postwar period. This introduction also takes into consideration the importance of postwar Hong Kong audiences, both real and implied, whose spectatorship was negotiated at the intersection colonialist and nationalist “address” and a familial and localized “reception.” This study has implication for the fields of Hong Kong, Chinese cinema, Cold War, and film reception studies.
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