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Screening CommunitiesNegotiating Narratives of Empire, Nation, and the Cold War in Hong Kong Cinema$
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Jing Jing Chang

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9789888455768

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888455768.001.0001

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Between Idealism and Pragmatism

Between Idealism and Pragmatism

Postwar Hong Kong’s Official Film Culture

(p.46) 2 Between Idealism and Pragmatism
Screening Communities

Jing Jing Chang

Hong Kong University Press

Chapter 2 traces the development of Hong Kong’s official film culture during the 1950s and 1960s within the contexts of the documentary film movement, the imperial legacy of the British Colonial Film Unit, and the colonial rhetoric of film literacy. In particular, it uses such Hong Kong Film Unit-produced short features as Report to the Gods (Dir. Brian Salt, 1967), starring local opera talent Leung Sing-por, as archival sources to argue that the colonial regime’s relationship with Hong Kong’s population was not a static vertical imposition of the “culture of depoliticization,” but one that was shifting and characterized by manipulation, misunderstanding, and negotiation amid bipolarized Cold War tension. I argue here that British Hong Kong’s involvement in filmmaking activities expose the top-down imposition of a colonial regime as well as the transformative nature of colonial rule during the Cold War period of the 1950s through 1960s. Official film culture should not be seen merely as tools of colonial governance or a means of indoctrinating subject audiences, but rather was part of an overall “strategy for survival” as well as an integral component in the process of screening the local Hong Kong “colonial” citizenry during the Cold War.

Keywords:   Documentary, Hong Kong Film Unit, Colonial Film Unit, Official films, Prestige Films, Griersonian Style, Film Literacy

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