On the second day of the 15th FEFF, CUEAFS members Eva Spirova and Hannah Albone had a chat with the directors of Fresh Wave – the film collection from Hong Kong. The young talents Men Uen- chin, Enoch Cheng and Happyheart Li shared thoughts on the festival and their films screened at FEFF.
The Fresh Wave International Film Festival is proof that Hong Kong cinema still has many great young talents who can carry the torch, offering a truly creative platform for young people to voice their concerns about their lives and their city.
Eva Spirova: How does it feel to be at the Udine FEFF alongside giant talents such as Herman Yau and are you happy with the audience’s reaction?
Enoch Chen: I feel very privileged to have been selected for this great festival. Everyone here is very professional yet very friendly. It is amazing to see your film screened in a proper big cinema and to see your film being translated with Italian subtitles. The audience seemed to like our films and applauded so we are very happy with their reception.
Men Uen-chin: I feel very happy to be able to show my film in Italy. The audience here paid respect to us.
Hannah Albone: What do your films say about contemporary Hong Kong?
Enoch Chen: My film is about a man and a woman stuck in an elevator for 30 minutes on Thursday evening when they’ve finished work. The film is pretty much about the characters who live under the conditions of Hong Kong. The girl is a secretary and the man is an agent, yhe kind of occupations that many people in Hong Kong do. The film shows the life in a big city working in a tall building in an office and where you can’t really communicate with others. The film is about oppression in the Hong Kong living conditions.
Men Uen- chin: My film explores the connection between a father and his family. Their relationship is not good. I think that in Hong Kong there is some gap between older and younger generations so this is something that I wanted to show.
Happyheart Li: My film is not a very Hong Kong style but it shows a woman who faces death so I think everyone can be touched by me film.
ES: What is it like to be a young filmmaker and are there any challenges to get your films out and to reach the audiences?
Enoch Chen: It is exciting as well as taunting. I have made two films so far. Even though I don’t have a film background I wanted to try it out. In terms of the film market, we are not producers and we don’t know how the market works but it is tough for young filmmakers especially to put it out there. Hong Kong may not be the best place and the depiction of contemporary life may not be so exotic so it is very challenging.
Men Uen- chin: As a young filmmaker I have freedom to express my creativity without the need to care about the film being commercial and I don’t need to care about the box office. For me the biggest challenges are looking for locations and good cast as we also need pay in order to shoot.
Happyheart Li: We are young filmmakers and at this age we can freely create films. The problem is that not many people can afford to go to the cinema and watch films so I think this is one of the main challenges. Another main challenge for us is the future. If we will go into the film industry we’ll have to face many problems in the creativity and in the production. But even though I am worried about the future I enjoy the present.
HA: Each of your films has quite a strong key theme. Was there any particular message you were trying to get across?
Happyheart Li: In my film I present the fear to express yourself.
Men Uen- chin: The statement I wanted to say with my film is about the relationship between parents and their children and the conditions in which a father cannot communicate with his family.
Enoch Chen: In my film I focused on the very mundane settleties of ordinary life. It also about time, space and the act of waiting and about how two strangers communicate with one another.
ES: As young filmmakers who has influenced you the most and inspired you?
Happyheart Li: The idea for my film is actually an adaptation of a novel so this is what inspired me. In terms of directors- Stanley Kubrick’s films give me much energy
Men Uen- chin: In the Fresh Wave competition Lu Chuan is my mentor and he has taught me a lot. I also study in the Hong Kong University of creative media. The teachers there have influenced me a lot too.
Enoch Chen: I am influenced by great directors who explore the unsettleties in life such as Eric Roma and other European directors as well as great Chinese directors like Wong Kar-wai.
HA: We are students of film and visual culture at Coventry University, UK. What advice would you give to young inspired filmmakers like us?
Enoch Chen: I think we’re all still very young to give advice but maybe, find the text that speaks to you and a story that you really want to tell also always think about the medium itself, the length of the film and what does it mean for a film to be 30 or 120 minutes. These are the questions when I asked myself when I made my films.
Men Uen- chin: The only thing I want to say is that I want to see your movies
Happyheart Li: Just do it!
Interview by Eva Spirova & Hannah Albone
Photography by Andreea Dascalu