×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

SGIFF: ‘The White Girl’ Is Hong Kong Homecoming for Chris Doyle, Jenny Suen

The White Girl,” Jenny Suen and Chris Doyle’s co-directed drama, is a work of love. Of struggle. And of hope. After a busy festival run, it has its Singapore premiere Tuesday in the SGIFF.

The film is set in the last fishing village in Hong Kong, and is an encounter between a local girl and an older, foreign artist. The story plays out against the backdrop of a changing political and physical environment, that neatly acts as a mirror to the current upheavals in Hong Kong’s social and political fabric.

“For both of us, making this film was something of a homecoming,” said Suen, who had been in the U.S. for 8 years, with some of that time spent studying. Exalted cinematographer, artist and, increasingly filmmaker, Doyle had simply been overseas working for too long. “What we found was that there has been a gap in Hong Kong cinema of about 10 years.”

That is a reference to the disruption caused by the opening up of the mainland Chinese market, and the drift of many major Hong Kong film makers into the China system. Only recently are they being replaced by a new generation of filmmakers, from different backgrounds, who focus on more local subjects, and work with indie budgets.

“The White Girl” was made on a budget of US$1.4 million (HK$10 million), which was all that they had available to them at the time, and filmed in just 14 days. “We had a real sense of purpose,” said Suen. The film will also be self-distributed, with a theatrical release in Hong Kong from Dec. 14.

The pair made their resources go further through extensive preparation. “We argued about the (co-written) script, in order to avoid arguing on set. And by working on tasks in parallel we could do everything in 14 days. It turned out to be a very fresh and functional approach,” said Doyle.

“We wanted a new lead with pale skin and perfect Cantonese. So we were very happy to have found such a good (nearly) first time actress in Angela Yuen,” said Suen. She plays opposite Japanese star Joe Odagiri.

“Two hundred years ago, Hong Kong was only fishing villages. So, obviously, the fishing village in our film is an allegory for Hong Kong, its distant past and its possible near future. But even without the politics it is a coming of age story. A love story and a love story about Hong Kong,” says Suen. “It ends with the girl alone, and now a woman. Another metaphor, we need to stand up for ourselves, test ourselves.”

“It has had very different reactions in London, where it was seen as a young person’s film, to when we played it in Taiwan (at the Golden Horse festival) and in Hong Kong (at the HK Asian festival). There it was seen on different levels,” said Suen. “It will be interesting to discover the reaction in Singapore.”

More Film

  • 180423_A24_Day_03B_0897.jpg

    Cannes Film Review: Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe in 'The Lighthouse'

    “The Lighthouse,” the second feature directed by Robert Eggers (“The Witch”), is a gripping and turbulent drama that draws on a number of influences, though it merges them into its own gothic historical ominoso art-thriller thing. Set in the 1890s, and suffused with foghorns and epic gusts of wind, as well as a powerfully antiquated [...]

  • Cannes: Diao Yinan Explains His Artistic

    Diao Yinan on Cannes Pic 'Wild Goose Lake': 'I Try to Portray the Opposite of a Utopia'

    In competition in Cannes with “Wild Goose Lake,” director Diao Yinan explained Sunday why he’s fascinated by dark crime thrillers – and why his new film features dialogue in China’s Wuhan dialect. “Such thrillers are not only an exercise in style; they’re also full of dramatic tension, and when you combine style with dramatic tension, [...]

  • CAP D'ANTIBES, FRANCE - MAY 18:

    Robert Pattinson, Shailene Woodley Attend Starry Vanity Fair Party in Cannes

    It’s true what they say about Batman being a loner. On Saturday night, Robert Pattinson made his first public appearance since being cast as the new Dark Knight at this year’s Vanity Fair Party in celebration of the Cannes Film Festival. But while all the other A-list guests mingled and worked the crowd at the [...]

  • 180423_A24_Day_03B_0897.jpg

    Robert Pattinson: 'The Lighthouse' Rehearsal Was a 'Pressure Cooker'

    Rehearsal for director Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse” wasn’t as long as Robert Pattinson remembers. “I’ve never rehearsed like I rehearsed with Robert before,” Pattinson said at the first screening of the period thriller on Sunday morning. “We rehearsed for what, three weeks?” Actually, no—it was only one week! “One, but it felt like three to [...]

  • FilmSharks Scores Global Sales, Remake Rights

    FilmSharks Scores Intl. Sales-Remake Rights for Fernando Spiner’s ‘Immortal’

    Guido Rud’s Buenos Aires-based FilmSharks International has acquired global sales and remake rights to renowned Latin American genre director Fernando Spiner’s latest feature “Immortal,” which participated in this year’s Blood Window Showcase at the Cannes Film Market. Included in the deal, FilmSharks also picked up Spiner’s sci-fi catalog which includes “Sleepwalker” and “Adiós querida luna.” [...]

  • Dimitri Vegas

    Dimitri Vegas Talks 'Rambo V: Last Blood' Role, Working With Sylvester Stallone

    Dimitri Thivaios, better known as dance music’s Dimitri Vegas, is taking his skills beyond the DJ booth, picking up a major film role in the forthcoming “Rambo V: Last Blood.” The Belgium-born Thivaios, who headlines massive EDM festivals like Tomorrowland with his brother Michael (they perform under the banner Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike), has [...]

  • Japan's Toei Animation Teams With Saudi's

    Japan's Toei Animation Teams With Saudi's Manga Productions on 'The Journey'

    In an industry-building effort for Saudi Arabia, new Saudi animation studio Manga Productions has teamed up with Japan’s Toei Animation on a $10 million to $15 million animation feature titled “The Journey,” an epic based on Saudi folklore to be directed by Shizuno Kobun, whose credits include “Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle.”  Manga [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content