No. 1 Chung Ying Street
Zhong Ying Jie yihao
Gateway | Gateway
Hong Kong’s troubled history and imagined future have never seemed more contested than they are today. Derek Chiu’s courageous political romance/melodrama confronts this by contrasting two stories set along the China-HK border: one about student activists during the anti-colonial riots of 1967; the other in the tense near-future of post-Umbrella Movement politics.
The same three young actors play the protagonists of both stories. So Chun-man (Yau Hawk Sau) is an activist student in 1967 who joins the Maoist-inspired riots, along with his father and uncle. His girlfriend Li Lai-wah (Fish Liew) is less committed, and starts spending time with bourgeois young Kwok Chi-ho (Lo Chun-yip). As class and political differences inflect a burgeoning romantic triangle, the riots become violent and the stakes increase. In 2019, Li Sze-wai (Liew, again) is released from detention after participating in pro-democratic civil disobedience. She reunites with present-day activists Yat-long (Lo) and old flame Yee Hong (Yau) as they protest against misuse of rural HK land.
Shot in vivid black and white by gifted cinematographer Lai Yat-nam, Chiu’s dual drama suggests Hong Kong’s history needs to be understood as a continuous story of thwarted idealism. Extraordinarily, this film may be too controversial to be released commercially in Hong Kong today.
— Shelly Kraicer
Best Film, Osaka 18