Introduction - Rosy Has the Dream Become
Fortunately there are good dreams to enable people to have aspirations for life; fortunately there are bad dreams to aspire people to treasure what they have got in real life. Whilst dream analysts believe that dreams have patterns, dreamers indulge in the chance encounters in dreams. As for me, this project on the (re)search of Hong Kong independent (short) films and videos from the 60s to the contemporary is a dream the longest ever I have had.
The formal search started in May this year. I have to admit that getting the earliest short films of Hong Kong has been my foremost wish since the beginning of an event is always full of new ideas and surprises, particularly when I did not have any access to these films. I do not mean that the more current works are not important, it is just that I know their whereabouts and their physical existence has been assured. Hence they have not taken away much of dreaming space.
To start the search, I talked to Law Kar, Cheung Kin, Freddie Wong, Alex Cheung, Jimmy Choi, Wong Kee-chee, Mary Stephen, Kam Ping-hing, Ada Loke (of the early 'Chinese Student Weekly') and others. As soon as the essential contacts and documentary evidences were established, the search has got a clearer picture. And, the dream has gotten rosy.
Searching the priority element I then started - the 16 mm and 8 mm works of the first generation in the 60s. In exultation I was on having found the right person, in despair (more often than not) when a work was found lost. My emotion rode high and low. At one time, I talked with film critic Kam Ping-hing (in Canada). He could not find his two short films. But then he told me that these works were his youthful whim and occupied only a very small portion of his personal history. We should not be too concerned about their existence. We should look into the future. I then reckoned that it might well be the case for many of the filmmakers of that era. Briefly consoled, I however constantly fall back into the abyss of slight melancholia - simply because I am the one looking for the past dreams of others.
And, from here onward, I changed my course: as long as I can get hold of a work, be it not of great significance, I would grasp it. The whole thing has to go for historical value first before quality analysis.
The same emotional ride continues for my searching the film works of 70s and 80s - some gains, some losses......
To generalise the development of Hong Kong independent short films and videos is not easy but not totally impossible. The issue is on the loss and the deterioration of the found work's material quality. Losing a film is a nightmare; a bad dream is a found work having lost its original physical glory of image and sound. At the same time, I believe that the video works since the 80s have not yet encountered the same fate as the short films did. It adds certain essence to my dream.
The essence of the dream has turned into the 'i-GENERATIONs'. It plucks the oldies (through screening of past film/video works) and sows new video works (through video installation and production). In analyzing past dreams and creating new dreams, I could hardly forget all the chance encounters - emotional or intellectual - I have had in my dream......
． The very enthusiastic, helpful, open and serious personalities in the Hong Kong Film Archive: Cynthia, Kar Suk, Angela, Priscilla, Edward, Valerie, Zoe, Bede, Stephanie, Lee, Susanne, Cass, Jennifer, Kwun and those smiling security guards, in particular, Winnie Fu for her professional editorial advice and very efficient support in project management;
． The very conscientious Bunny and Tong who have helped me without complaint with all the errands, writing and PR work as my curatorial assistants;
．The very responsive Dorothy of Hong Kong Arts Centre for helping out with my curating the programme of DV Generations;
．The very persistent Albert Chu, Johnny Wong and Vincent Hui of Macau for helping to curate the programme on Macau's independent films and videos;
．The very helpful team of the Film & Video Department of Hong Kong Arts Centre; and
Many other entities, personalities and friends who have assisted or participated in this project..... Because of all of them, 'i-GENERATIONs' is not just about history and creativity, it has colours, rosy colours.
25 August 2001