Looking Back at Ann Hui’s Cinema of the Political

By Ka-Fai Yau


Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 117- 50


This essay examines the concept of the political in the Hong Kong female director Ann Hui’s works, especially The Story of Woo Viet, The Boat People, Ordinary Heroes, and Love in a Fallen City. It distinguishes between two kinds of political cinema: the cinema of politics is just about politics, necessarily including Hui’s films concerning Vietnamese refugees and political activism, etc. But the cinema of the political may and may not include these overtly political films, depending on whether they reflect upon mechanism s of articulating politics.

In The Story of Woo Viet and The Boat People, the political lies not just in the stories, but also the observers of and simultaneously in the stories; in Ordinary Heroes, the politics of missing has not just to do with the theme of missing, but also with what the film misses while tackling such a theme; in Love in a Fallen City, what is political is not just a crisis in history (the Japanese conquest of Hong Kong during the Second World War) that contributes to a love story, but also an adaptation of such a love story into an allegory of a later crisis in history (the handover of Hong Kong in 1997).