PHILANTHROPIST Michelle Ong AND DIRECTOR Ann Hui JOINED FORCES FOR A RED-CARPET PREMIERE AND A CELEBRATION OF CREATIVITY IN HONG KONG
Director Ann Hui and philanthropist Michelle Ong join forces for a red-carpet premiere and celebration of creativity
Era of the Hong Kong premiere of The Golden Michelle Ong ( left) and Ann Hui ahead
Talk of an academy award nomination is an unbeatable way to kick off a party—and probably explains why the First Initiative Foundation (FIF) charity premiere of The Golden Era had such an electric atmosphere from start to finish. Moments before the event began, news broke that the film, the latest work from celebrated director Ann Hui, had been chosen by the Hong Kong Motion Picture Industry Association as the city’s submission for the Academy Awards’ Best Foreign Language Film competition.
“It was an incredible moment, and it made me feel so proud of my whole team,” says Hui. “I’m keeping all my fingers crossed that we make it to the final round, but even this is a great honour.” Michelle Ong, the founding chairwoman of the FIF, looked equally delighted by this exciting turn of events. “I am so happy that Ann has been recognised. She is so talented; she really deserves this,” she says. “I also
think it’s very inspiring for all the young filmmakers in Hong Kong as it reinforces the city’s place on the world stage, which is exactly what we aim to do here at FIF.”
The foundation was launched by Ong in 2010 to support and promote education and creativity in the arts, design, music and film in Hong Kong. “I started the charity because I believe that Hong Kong society can sometimes be too focused on business and, because of that, we can forget to nurture the creative talents in our community,” she says.
Both inspiring figures in their fields, Ong and Hui are established and successful members of the creative community— Ong as head of creativity for high jeweller Carnet and Hui as one of the leading directors in the city. And Ong had been a long-time fan of Hui’s work, so it was a perfect fit when Hui offered the local premiere to FIF as a charity fundraiser.
The Golden Era is an adaptation of Xiao Hong’s critically acclaimed autobiography about her struggle to survive as a poet and novelist in 1920s Shanghai. The film, which was shot in and around Shanghai, “was not easy to make, partly because my Mandarin is not very good,” says Hong Kong native Hui with a laugh. “But everyone has been so enthusiastic about it since the release that it made all that hard work worthwhile.”
The evening began with the opening of a special exhibition of behind-the-scenes footage from The Golden Era, accompanied by interviews with Hui, lead actors Tang Wei and Feng Shaofeng, and more information on FIF. This was followed by a red-carpet cocktail reception and a viewing of the film attended by the Hong Kong glitterati. Guests enjoyed themed treats during the screening and were kept warm with luxurious throws made by FIF.
“It was a wonderful evening,” says Ong. “Ann is passionate about what she does, and that always resonates with people. Her films are about values, relationships and positivity. Ultimately it’s these things that make Hong Kong such a wonderful place to live in.”
It was an exciting evening as hundreds gathered at the ground floor of Pacific Place to witness FIF’s ribbon-cutting ceremony with Michelle Ong, Ann Hui, Eason Chan, William Feng and others. Afterwards, guests lapped up the star treatment as they strolled along the red carpet leading to the cinema.
The premiere was attended by socialites from all walks of life—artists, celebrities and business magnates came out in support of FIF. Lynn Hsieh, Jo Jo Fok, Catherine Kwai and Che-hung Leong were among those seen comfortably seated in the four AMC theatres that FIF booked to screen The Golden Era.
Ian and Jo Jo Fok Antonello De Riu and Miriam Pirone
Danny and Wendy Hegglin
Catherine Kwai and Edward Fung
Joy Chung and Lynn Hsieh
Eason Chan, Vivien Chen and Michelle Ong
David and Anita Chan and Terry Chan
Emily and Jimmy Tang
John and Annie Leong Kam Kwok Leung Vincent Cheung and Rebecca Young