Hong Kong doc­u­men­tary maker talks about build­ing bridges with Chi­nese main­land

Global Times US Edition - - LIFE - By Bi Mengy­ing Page Editor: li­[email protected]­al­

In June 2018, short film stu­dio Ar­row Fac­tory posted a short doc­u­men­tary ti­tled Hongkonger­s in Bei­jing on its Youtube chan­nel. In the doc­u­men­tary, six Hong Kongers talked about what it’s like liv­ing in Bei­jing.

“There are good things about Bei­jing, and there are good things about Hong Kong. Why don’t we com­bine the good things to­gether and make it all bet­ter?” said Liu Xiao­hui, who moved to Bei­jing in 2003, in the video.

The roughly 13-minute-long video has more than half a mil­lion views and more than 5,000 com­ments. In the com­ments, many view­ers talked about how touched they were by the video and ex­pressed their hope for bet­ter un­der­stand­ing be­tween peo­ple from Hong Kong and the main­land.

Un­ex­pected ad­ven­ture

Kit Chung, who also ap­peared in the doc­u­men­tary, is the ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer at Ar­row Fac­tory, which was founded un­der the um­brella of Chi­nese main­land news web­site Jiemian.

Af­ter get­ting his bach­e­lor’s in film­mak­ing in a Tai­wan based uni­ver­sity in 2007, the young and ad­ven­tur­ous Chung did not feel like re­turn­ing to Hong Kong. Yearn­ing for new pos­si­bil­i­ties, he set out to see the world.

“Bei­jing was about to host the Olympic Games in 2008. The world was all talk­ing about Bei­jing. I had been there as a child. I knew the city. So I found a job op­por­tu­nity that brought me here… My boss told me to give it a try for three months… Now I’ve been here for 11 years,” Chung told the Global Times.

Named af­ter a hu­tong (a nar­row al­ley) in Bei­jing, Ar­row Fac­tory was es­tab­lished by Chung and the other mem­bers in 2016. With its slo­gan “a youth­ful look at China,” the stu­dio seeks to cap­ture the di­ver­sity of in­di­vid­u­als and groups in mod­ern Chi­nese so­ci­ety. Chung said that he en­joys work­ing in Bei­jing, which he con­sid­ers an op­por­tu­nity that can­not be found in other places. “Take Hong Kong for in­stance. If you have a video agency like this, due to the limit of its size, you prob­a­bly won’t be able to find as many things to work on as with here,” he noted. “Yet, when you are work­ing in the main­land, the peo­ple you face, the things you see are more di­verse, which to some ex­tent, will affect your way of think­ing as well.”

Hong Kong fam­ily

At the end of the video is a note ded­i­cat­ing it to Chung’s fa­ther, who died sev­eral years ago.

Born in South China’s Guang­dong Prov­ince, Chung’s fa­ther fled to Hong Kong dur­ing the tumult of the Cul­tural Rev­o­lu­tion (1966-76). Chung’s mother was born in Tai­wan. Her fa­ther named her Yi Xue, which means miss­ing the snow, in mem­ory of the cold snowy win­ters in their home­town of Shenyang in North­east China.

“I was born in 1983. At that time, Hong Kong was still a Bri­tish colony. We didn’t have the con­cept of a coun­try when grow­ing up. It didn’t ex­ist. Yet we were also clear about how Hong Kong be­came a Bri­tish colony due to the Opium War, which China lost. Sub­con­sciously, I knew I was Chi­nese, but I didn’t think about things like this when I was a child. Be­fore Hong Kong’s re­turn to China in 1997, I felt like the main­land was a dis­tant place,” Chung said.

De­spite this, Chung’s fam­ily con­stantly re­minded him of their bond with the main­land.

“My mother would of­ten call us dong­beiren [peo­ple from North­east China]… She ac­tu­ally wasn’t even born in North­east China, but her side of the fam­ily saw them­selves as dong­beiren. We still ob­serve some tra­di­tions of the re­gion. Like dur­ing the last Spring Fes­ti­val, we had pick­led cab­bage stew, the re­ally au­then­tic kind,” said Chung.

Ef­forts to con­nect

Chung’s first visit to Bei­jing was at the age of 6 or 7.

“Back then, Hong Kong was al­ready rather de­vel­oped and crowded. When I ar­rived in Bei­jing, it was like a whole dif­fer­ent world,” he said.

He re­called that the roads were wide, and there was a lot of bikes but very few cars. He couldn’t buy Coca Cola, or the snacks or can­dies that kids in Hong Kong liked. Cry­ing, he told his mother that he wanted to go home at first. How­ever, af­ter play­ing with his cousin, who was around his age, he was very happy to be in Bei­jing.

While Chung can speak Pu­tonghua (Stan­dard Chi­nese) now, back then he only knew Can­tonese, which made com­mu­ni­cat­ing with his Pu­tonghuas­peak­ing cousin rather dif­fi­cult.

“I re­mem­ber that we put a lot of ef­fort into talk­ing with each other. It was easy for us to just play to­gether, but once we tried to talk about more things, we had to start writ­ing and draw­ing… I was writ­ing in tra­di­tional Chi­nese char­ac­ters and he was writ­ing in sim­pli­fied,” said Chung.

“Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is not easy, es­pe­cially be­tween Hong Kong and the main­land. The main­land is so vast. Peo­ple from the south do not un­der­stand north­ern­ers. Peo­ple from the north­west do not un­der­stand dong­beiren,” Chung said.

“There should be more ex­changes and com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween Hong Kong and the main­land. It should be from a cul­tural per­spec­tive and be­tween peo­ple… Like gath­er­ing peo­ple who share the same pas­sion for mu­sic or movies to­gether and let them com­mu­ni­cate. Once there are such op­por­tu­ni­ties, they all can ac­tu­ally be­come bet­ter friends,” he con­cluded.

Photo: IC Photo: Cour­tesy of Kit Chung

A hu­tong in Bei­jing Be­low: Kit Chung

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