By Robert HamiltonTo commemorate the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Administrative Region, the Hong Kong Economic Trade Office have planned a series of events in London and here in Manchester, including the Chinese Arts Centre’s new Hung Keung exhibition and the Cornerhouse’s UK premiere of Big Blue Lake/Da Lan Hu (HK 2011) on Friday 6th July at 18:10 from award-winning director, Jessey Tsang Tsui-Shan. There will also be a post-screening Q&A with Jessey and producer, Teresa Kwong.
Both Jessey and Teresa are old friends of the Cornerhouse, having been guests as part of Visible Secrets: Hong Kong’s Women Filmmakers season in 2009 where Jessey screened her first feature, Lovers on the Road (HK 2008). It is, therefore, a great pleasure to welcome them back and get a rare chance to see Jessey’s new feature.
Big Blue Lake is a gentle, funny and romantic story of the return of an actress, Lai-Yee (Leila Tong), to her home village of Ho Chung in Hong Kong’s New Territories. There she finds her mother, May (Amy Chun) in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Faced with the inevitable ties of filial duty, Lai-Yee settles down to the ebb and flow of village life, as well as a growing attachment to Chun (Lawrence Chou), a former classmate. As Lai-Yee and Chun explore the village environs and traditions, they search for the mythic big blue lake of their childhood.
The film draws on themes of home, place, memory and its loss, as well as return to those places, people and feelings which mould us and define us, which no matter how far we travel, remain true to who we are. It is a mature work from a director who obviously knows the physical and emotional territory well. Ho Chung is Jessey’s home village and it is her memories that inhabit the tone and character of this beautifully shot film.
On her first visit to Manchester, we noted that Jessey was a filmmaker of talent and potential, her second feature has only confirmed that view. It also came to the attention of the judges at the 2012 Hong Kong Film Awards where she won Best Newcomer.
To further showcase Jessey’s talent, the Chinese Arts Centre is screening a programme of her short films from 15:00 on Friday 6th July, as well as a chance to meet and greet Jessey and Teresa before the main event at the Cornerhouse. The programme will include Lonely Planet (HK 2004) and Ou est la sortie? (HK 2007). I hope that that those of you connected to or interested in events will be able to attend.