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Directed by Ann Hui

Opening Film, 2023 Hong Kong International Film Festival

“Writing poetry is hard,” says Huang Canran, “because you must be prepared for destitution from the start.” According to Huang, since most poets don’t see their poems praised or published during their lifetimes, “Poetry is affirmed after death. I only know I’m a poet when I’m dead.”

Musings about the past, present, and future abound in celebrated Hong Kong New Wave icon Ann Hui’s latest, a who’s who of contemporary poetry in Hong Kong and beyond. Hui (A Simple Life, SDAFF Spring Showcase ’12) found comfort in poetry during difficult times in her life, prompting her to film conversations with poets Wai Yuen, Yam Gong, Deng Ah Lam, York Ma, with a special mention of the late Leung Ping Kwan and cameos from other artists and luminaries.

The bulk of the film focuses on two opposites, Huang and poet and photographer Liu Wai Tong, as they examine writings about a Hong Kong that no longer exists. Huang, a romantic chain-smoking artist, now based in Dongbei Village, patches torn pants, and whose motto is “Work hard to not make money.” Speaking from Taipei, the king of side hustles Liu is more comfortable lecturing for three hours on Zoom than actually communicating with his students.

Just as notable as the poets are the settings of the conversations: the streetside coffee vendor with plastic stools, the tea cafe, old apartment buildings, new home bases overseas. Interspersed are the poets reciting their work while scenes of quotidian life play out on Hong Kong streets. Especially endearing is the late Xi Xi reciting her poem, “Former Kai Tak Airport.” Setting and context are important. After all, as Huang says: “As a poet, firstly, you express how you relate to this world.”

– Wilda Wong

Director Ann Hui scheduled to attend.
Screening to be followed by a Q&A.

Admission includes post-screening reception at The Patio next to Edwards Mira Mesa Theater.

Co-Presented by The Hong Konger Club.

Screening Sponsor: Wayne Yang, John Muir College, UC San Diego.

Dates & Times


Edwards Mira Mesa

Sat, Nov 4
2:45 pm