BUSAN — Ann Hui may be Hong Kong’s most socially and politically aware film director, but it was her silence – rather than her words or her movie – that said more than anything else about the fear which the Chinese government today exerts over millions of people.
“I’m only going to take questions about the film,” Hui said brusquely, when asked during a Busan press conference on Friday about the pro-democracy protests currently taking place on the streets of her hometown.
She and actress Tang Wei then quickly went back to discussing getting frostbite on set, the happy state of Tang’s recent nuptials, and parallels between Tang’s childhood and the historical character Xiao Hong that she portrays in Hui’s Busan gala film “The Golden Era.”
The press conference was standing room only, proving how the Chinese-born Tang has become “Korea’s favorite daughter-in-law.” That’s due to the success of her performance in “Lust, Caution,” “Late Autumn” and her marriage to Korean director Kim Tae-yong.
So many photographers snapped her likeness throughout the 45-minute event that the constant clicking of camera shutters resembled the din of crickets at sunset.
Despite their opposite demeanors – Hui, nervous, excited and coiled, and Tang, tall and serene – both showed some of the chemistry that must have been needed to get them through the lengthy preparations and production period. The duo estimated that making the film about famous early 20th Century literary figure Xiao Hong took two years. A moment later Hui mentioned that location scouting alone took five months and script adjustments took three years.
Asked why “The Golden Era” contains so many flashbacks and some scenes where characters appear to speak directly to the camera, Hui said, “I wanted to give audiences a chance to evaluate Xiao Hong from different points of view.”
As on the streets of Hong Kong, one film may hold multiple versions of the truth.