UPCLOSE: GINA WONG
HK Magazine: What’s the biggest difference between experimental film and movies you see in regular cinemas?
Gina Wong: Narrative motion pictures are like a novel or magazine, and Hollywood blockbusters are like a tabloid: It’s just entertainment. Experimental films are like poetry. Every word in poetry is the intensive feeling of the writer. Experimental film doesn’t have a linear storyline; it’s more complex, more flowing. I think that’s the beauty of it. [I was drawn to it] because experimental films are made by a variety of filmmakers. If you look at Hollywood films, a lot of them are still made by men. Experimental films write human history in a way which gives a better picture of [reality] in 2016.
HK: Women seem to have a prominent position in the Hong Kong arts scene: Do you think that’s true? GW: Women have a prominent position in arts administration. But that’s not where the power lies. They’re volunteers, they’re administrators, they’re managers. But the top collectors, the tastemakers and the power people: They’re men. But things are changing. More women are participating in art. You’re supposed to break through the status quo. Otherwise it’s not art, it’s decoration.
HK: How has it been, running an independent film art space in Hong Kong?
GW: We have a small group of diehard fans, about 350, who come to all our screenings. We don’t get any funding from the government. It’s truly independent, so our arts exhibitions are not afraid of criticizing anybody, including the government. We’re really flexible, as we don’t have to wait for the Arts Development Council to approve of our programs a year in advance. I spend quite a lot of time reaching out to individuals for angel funding in London and Shanghai. You can’t really do that in Hong Kong—there’s no one to support it.
HK: What’s in store at Screen x Experimenta?
GW: Half of them are Asian premieres. The first program is “X Screen World Drama,” which is more for the beginners. They have narratives and actors speaking. It’s easier to watch. “X Screen Poetry” is for the experimental film buffs. Films are more poetic, and made by women filmmakers. One highlight is “I Feel as if I am Vanishing,” from a local filmmaker of Pakistani origin. It’s time we picked Indian and Pakistani compatriots who are from Hong Kong. There’s going to be a world premiere of my own film, “The Road to Day Dream Mine,” a story to remember my own grandmother, who I thought was ahead of her time. I contrasted the red of the Australian Mundi Mundi Plains with the ocean in Hong Kong. And it’s going to be shown in virtual reality too. We have a few Google Cardboard [VR viewers] to give out each day, and people who register can download my film and watch it from there.
HK: Why work to develop the Hong Kong art scene? GW: I’m a Hong Kong girl. I graduated from the University of Hong Kong, this is where my heart is. With all the politics going on, isn’t this the most amazing time to be here? Because maybe I can make a little bit of difference. I hope to tell the story of as many people as possible—especially those whose stories have not been told.
Filmmaker and curator Gina Wong See-yuen founded independent film and video art space Experimenta in 2008. This March, she is working in collaboration with Art Central to bring three experimental film programs to the public in “Screen X Experimenta.” She shares with Evelyn Lok her passion for alternative film and multimedia art.
See Screen X Experimenta at Art Central. Film programs take place Mar 22-26, from 4:30pm each day. See artcentralhongkong.com for details.