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Jul 21 2020

Hong Kong Female Director Wins Golden Lion in Venice

by Pamela Wong

ANN HUI wins the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement, the first time that the award is conferred to a female Hong Kong director. Image via Facebook.

On July 20, the 77th Venice Film Festival announced that Hong Kong filmmaker Ann Hui has been recognized with the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement. An award ceremony will be held during the festival, scheduled for September 2 to 12.

Born in Liaoning province to Chinese and Japanese parents, Hui received a master’s degree in English and comparative literature at the University of Hong Kong before pursuing further studies at the London Film School. She is known as one of the earliest members of Hong Kong’s New Wave—a ’70s and ’80s film movement led by overseas returnee directors who revolutionized the industry to establish Hong Kong’s own identity with innovative approaches. With the completion of her first film, The Secret (1979), a thriller about an infamous murder, which won Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards that year, she went on to produce films of different genres ranging from romantic comedies, melodramas, and horror, mostly depicting life’s daily struggles from a female perspective. 

She has garnered numerous awards over her four-decade-long career including six Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Director and three Golden Horse Awards, and has competed internationally, such as at the Asia Pacific Film Festival (1990), the Berlin International Film Festival (1995, 1997, 1999), and the Moscow International Film Festival (2004). Among all her award-winning films, her most critically acclaimed work is Summer Snow (1995), featuring the story of a 40-year-old woman balancing her family life with her career. Hui started incorporating documentary elements into fictional films in As Time Goes By (1997), an approach she also utilized for A Simple Life (2011) and The Golden Era (2014).

This is the first time that the Golden Lion is conferred to a female Hong Kong director, following Hong Kong action film director John Woo’s win in 2010. The decision was made by the board of directors of Biennale di Venezia with recommendation from Venice Film Festival director Alberto Barbera, who described Hui as “one of Asia’s most respected, prolific, and versatile directors of our times” in a press release. Speaking of Hui’s works, Barbera further added that, “she has always shown particular interest in compassionate and social vicissitudes, recounting . . . individual stories that interweave with important social themes such as those of refugees, the marginalized, and the elderly . . . not only has she captured the specific aspects of the city and the imagination of Hong Kong, she has also transposed and translated them into a universal perspective.”

The 77th Venice Film Festival also awarded the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement to Scottish actress Tilda Swinton.

Pamela Wong is ArtAsiaPacific’s assistant editor. 

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