Toronto: Christopher Doyle Salutes Adopted Hometown in ‘Hong Kong Trilogy’

Christopher Doyle is a ball of energy, all nerves, tics and lofty ideals, wrapped in the sunburned wrinkles of an older man who has lived plenty of the good life.

His “Hong Kong Trilogy,” an experimental film that premieres in Toronto, mirrors some of those kinetic internal contradictions. It also reflects the puzzle that is present-day Hong Kong — a city with its own currency, laws and traditions that is coming to terms today with being part of modern-day China.

Doyle himself washed up in the city in the 1970s after quitting his native Australia on a merchant ship.

Hong Kong suited him well. It allowed Doyle to be reborn as Du Kefeng, a Cantonese and Mandarin-speaking artist turned star cinematographer. As d.p., Doyle/Du has worked with Chen Kaige, Zhang Yimou, Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, Phillip Noyce, Gus Van Sant, M. Night Shyamalan and most notably, Wong Kar Wai.

When Doyle is asked why he made “Trilogy,” his answer is simple: “I owe it to Hong Kong.” But Doyle talks a mile a minute and quickly adds a few codas. “To pay tribute to Hong Kong, I could have done so many other things, shot sequels or remakes (of classic Hong Kong movies), or s**t. But this had to be done.”

The film comprises three separate elements, ranging from a child’s innocent question about existence to a couple’s absurd speed dating tour of the city, to documenting politics of the street encompassing the Occupy Central movement, which challenged the Hong Kong government over the issue of democracy.

For each segment, Doyle shot hours of documentary footage, which he has assembled into what is his own fiction film. He calls the format “realidada.”

Doyle insists that the film is not a documentary, but says as fiction it gains authenticity from being made up of real people and real voices. “What is so interesting is the timbre of the conversation,” Doyle says, a reference to the way that Hong Kongers are always aware of the bigger picture, and how their conversations require between-the-lines analysis.

Similarly, he is unapologetic about picking at the scabs that blemish Hong Kong society — staggering levels of inequality and obsessions with work and money — and at the unhealed wounds of last year’s anti-authoritarian uprising.

“It is a personal response. I’ve worked before with artists like Ai Weiwei, whose voices don’t fit,” Doyle says. “The film is personal, poetic and political.”

Does he mind that that Hong Kong’s rulers may not recognize the scene? “Hong Kong’s ruling class are all in Beijing these days,” he retorts. The film will be released in Hong Kong on Sept. 28, the first anniversary of the beginning of Occupy Central.

More Film


    SAG-AFTRA Leaders Approve Proposal for New Film-TV Contract

    The SAG-AFTRA national board has approved proposals for a successor deal to its master contract covering feature film and primetime television — a key step in the upcoming negotiations cycle with companies. The board approved the package Saturday with the performers union declining to reveal any specifics — its usual policy. The board established the wages [...]

  • Cameron Crowe, David Crosby, A.J. Eaton.

    Cameron Crowe on Why He Loved Leaving David Crosby Doc on a CSNY Question Mark

    David Crosby may or may not have stuck a joint in Cameron Crowe’s mouth the first time he ever met the future filmmaker, when Crosby was peaking with Crosby Stills Nash & Young and his interviewer was a precocious 15-year-old Rolling Stone correspondent. As Crowe said to Jimmy Kimmel the other night, “I remember it [...]

  • Mokalik

    Nigeria’s Kunle Afolayan: African Audiences Shouldn’t Be ‘Second-Class’

    DURBAN–A young boy from a middle-class home gets an unconventional schooling in the ways of the world when he’s forced to apprentice at a mechanic’s workshop in a rough-and-tumble section of Lagos. “Mokalik” is the latest feature from Kunle Afolayan, a leading figure in the wave of filmmakers revitalizing the Nigerian film industry. The film [...]

  • Alicia Rodis photographed by Alicia Rodis

    SAG-AFTRA Moves to Standardize Guidelines for Intimacy Coordinators

    SAG-AFTRA is moving to standardize guidelines for intimacy coordinators as part of an effort to establish policies for union members when their work involves nudity and simulated sex. “Our goal is to normalize and promote the use of intimacy coordinators within our industry,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “Intimacy coordinators provide an important safety net for [...]

  • The Lion King

    Box Office: 'The Lion King' Roars Overseas With Mighty $269 Million

    Disney’s “The Lion King” certainly felt the love this weekend, generating $269 million at the international box office. Director Jon Favreau’s remake of the classic Disney cartoon now holds the eighth-biggest debut of all time overseas, and that’s not including the film’s early opening in China last weekend. Combined with a stellar $185 million start [...]

  • Scarlett JohanssonMarvel Studios panel, Comic-Con International,

    Scarlett Johansson Reveals What We'll Learn About Black Widow in Stand-Alone Movie

    Scarlett Johansson can finally talk about her upcoming “Black Widow” movie. While she can’t divulge spoilers, she let out a big sigh of relief after the film was officially announced on Saturday during the Marvel Studios presentation at Comic-Con. “I feel like a weight has been lifted,” the Oscar nominee told Variety. “Black Widow” is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content