Renationalisation and resistance of Hong Kong cinema: Milkyway Image’s journey to Mainland China
ABSTRACT Hong Kong cinema is an emerging component of the booming Chinese film industry twenty years after the transfer of Hong Kong’s sovereignty from Britain to China. Hong Kong filmmakers and film companies now routinely collaborate with the mainland industry to produce for the mainland audience, prompting many creative artists and companies of the Hong Kong industry to relocate to the mainland. Based on the fundamental idea that both mainland Chinese cinema and Hong Kong cinema are constantly reshaping as a result of inter- and trans-cultural exchanges, this article adopts a bottom-up approach to re-examine the top-down-managed cultural nationalisation of Hong Kong cinema. Hong Kong (co-)produced films are increasingly devoid of local sensibilities and identities. Film companies and talents of the Hong Kong film industry, at least in the mainstream sector, are gradually incorporated into the film industry in the mainland. Notwithstanding these overwhelming tendencies, I suggest that Hong Kong cinema’s legacies exist beyond narrative strategies and genre approaches, and have started to show in film companies’ role in, and their capability of, challenging and reshaping the future of the Chinese screenscape. Specifically, through the examination of a series of film projects from Milkyway Image, a Hong Kong-based film production company, this article shows that Hong Kong cinema’s renationalisation is a process of simultaneous cooperation, negotiation, and resistance.
KEYWORDS: Hong Kong cinema; Chinese cinema; Chinese-language cinema; Hong Kong film industry; film industry; film company; Milkyway Image; mainlandisation; transnationalisation; Johnnie To
Notes on contributor
Sun Yi holds a PhD in Film and Television Studies and currently teaches in the College of Media and International Culture at Zhejiang University. Her research interests include film industry practices, genre studies, Chinese-language cinema and especially Hong Kong cinema. She has published in journals such as Asian Cinema and Transnational Cinemas.