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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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May Fourth and Postwar Hong Kong’s Leftist Cantonese Cinema

May Fourth and Postwar Hong Kong’s Leftist Cantonese Cinema

Chapter:
(p.75) 3 May Fourth and Postwar Hong Kong’s Leftist Cantonese Cinema
Source:
Screening Communities
Author(s):

Jing Jing Chang

Publisher:
Hong Kong University Press
DOI:10.5790/hongkong/9789888455768.003.0004

Chapter 3 examines the legacy of the May Fourth Movement in the context of postwar Hong Kong’s golden age of cinema. It argues that the May Fourth project was an unfinished one and was carried forward by progressive Cantonese filmmakers who were the torchbearers of its ideology. This chapter focuses on the careers of left-leaning filmmakers such as Ng Cho-fan, one of the founders of the Union Film Enterprise Ltd., and their emergence as postwar Hong Kong’s new cultural elites. Through a close reading of Union’s film adaptations of the Ba Jin trilogy, Family (Jia, dir. Ng Wu, 1953), Spring (Chun, dir. Lee Sun-fung, 1953), and Autumn (Qiu, dir. Chun Kim, 1954), this chapter demonstrates the transformative nature of the moral message of postwar Hong Kong’s cultural elites. Not only did left-leaning film talent repurpose core tenets of May Fourth, they also sought to reinterpret the spirit of vernacular modernism for the colony’s audiences through their film productions. Although May Fourth precepts were brought to Hong Kong by China’s nanlai cultural elites and leftwing film talents, the May Fourth spirit underwent a creative translingual appropriation during the 1950s as local Hong Kong leftwing companies such as the Union and Xinlian emerged.

Keywords:   May Fourth Movement, Vernacular modernism, Leftwing cinema, Cantonese cinema, Union Film Enterprise, Nanlai, Cultural Elites, Wenyi

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