After 1949, Hong Kong cinema became a battleground for ideological combats between Communist China and Guomindang-controlled Taiwan, the American-led ‘liberal camps’ and Soviet-centered Communist blocs. Realizing the strategic geopolitical position of Hong Kong, the British government stealthily introduced and vigorously exercised stringent measures in censoring film and print culture. It sneakily interfered with the production and dissemination of undesirable images and messages on silver screens.
A surveillance ethos pervaded postwar Hong Kong cinema particularly concerning leftist filmmaking, whereas pro-China film business and personnel were subject to officials’ covert monitoring and containment through censorship, control of market access, spying, and deportation.
The talk focuses on Union Film’s cinematic adaptations of foreign literary classics, which became a vital tactic for the left-leading studio to strive for a cosmopolitan outlook of Cantonese cinema while maintaining subtle class criticism, particularly when leftwing groups were under the watchful eye of colonial officials.
Speaker: Kenny K.K. Ng, Associate Professor, Hong Kong Baptist University
Kenny K.K. Ng is an Associate Professor at the Academy of Film, Hong Kong Baptist University. He obtained his PhD from Harvard University, East Asian Languages and Civilizations. He has published widely on film culture and literary studies in the US, UK, Europe, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. His books include The Lost Geopoetic Horizon of Li Jieren: The Crisis of Writing Chengdu in Revolutionary China (Brill, 2015); Indiescape Hong Kong: Interviews and Essays, co-authored with Enoch Tam and Vivian Lee (Hong Kong: Typesetter Publishing, 2018) [Chinese]; Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: Hong Kong Cinema with Sino-links in Politics, Art, and Tradition (Hong Kong: Chunghwa Book Co., 2021) [Chinese]. His ongoing book projects concern censorship and visual cultural politics, Cold War Asian cinema, the politics of Cantonese and Sinophone cinema, and left-wing cosmopolitanism.