To describe the real experience of Hong Kong in words seems a fool’s errand. As a fool, then, I say Hong Kong is looming and efficient, mountainous and concrete, and quick yet principled. Not many customer service workers will have patience or a smile for you, but the HKIFF artistic director, Li Cheuk To, generously donated an hour of his time two days before the festival opening to share the festival history and answer our questions. Both cases exemplify the industrious efficiency on which a city under constant construction can run.
As well as these talks, we each found our Buddha with ten thousand (rounding up) from which to choose, had lunch on the waterfront of the fishing village Cheung Chau, saw the late-night rock-and-rollers of Mong Kok, attended the Bruce Lee exhibition at the Heritage Museum, and spent many a moment staring at the skyline. There is no forgetting where you are when every view has the integration of urban height and tropical greens.
My experience of Asian film has always been enjoyed from my Australian couch or cinema. Surely, seeing a film in the place it was made will lead me to new insights about film and its subject. This trip should illuminate the culture for its own sake, as well as for film context. We have learnt much about the region before the festival has even begun, so there is (and always will be) more learning to do.
Susan Cilento, Bachelor of Arts (High Achievers) student participating in the “East Asian Film Industry Engagement Project” in April 2017