Ann Hui’s “Our Time Will Come” was named as the best local film of 2017 by the Hong Kong Film Critics Society. The film charts the resistance efforts of indigenous Leftist guerrillas during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong between 1941 and 1944.
The critics association announced that Sylvia Chang is to receive the prize as best director, for “Love Education.” The film premiered as the closing night movie at the Busan film festival.
“God of War,” a war epic directed by Gordon Chan, was named the winner in two categories. It won for best screenplay and for best actor (Japan’s Yasuaki Kurata). Stephy Tang won the best actress award for “The Empty Hands,” a martial arts drama.
“Our Time Will Come” was produced with the backing of mainland Chinese firm Bona Film Group and was considered sufficiently politically correct to be selected as the opening title for the Shanghai International Film Festival in June last year. However, against a background rumble of political unrest in Hong Kong, it was abruptly removed from the place of honor, though was allowed to play out quietly in the festival’s competition section.
The critics’ organization praised it for its “humanity” and “deft strokes” in its portrayal of “self-sacrificing and fearless” rebels. Variety’s reviewer said it was “cut from the same cloth as umpteen patriotic film and TV dramas spoon-fed to mainland audiences since 1949… the tone feels curiously subdued and laid-back, with little bombast or even excitement.”
Overshadowed by the mainland Chinese industry with its enormous wealth and an emphasis on four quadrant movies that can pass muster with censors, the Hong Kong movie industry has yet to clearly find a way forward. In the past couple of years, several young Hong Kong directors have been hailed as fresh voices. But in 2017 Hong Kong audiences increasingly turned to Hollywood movies, while the number of releases and box office for local Hong Kong films declined.