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 HKCinemagic 2

Statistics :
11630 Movies
19215 People
1448 Studios
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73 Interviews
12 DVD Reviews
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Interviews with Peter Chan: almost love stories
Almost Love Stories 1/1 - Page 1
Author(s) : David Vivier
Thomas Podvin
Bastian Meiresonne
Date : 15/3/2006
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Jackie Chan
Peter Chan Ho Sun
Chang Cheh
Chen Kuan Tai
Jacky Cheung Hok Yau
Maggie Cheung Man Yuk
David Chiang Da Wei
Stephen Chow Sing Chi
Chow Yun Fat
Kaneshiro Takeshi
Ti Lung
John Woo
Zhou Xun
Movies :
Armour Of God
The Blood Brothers
Comrades, Almost A Love Story
Heroes Shed No Tears
He's A Woman, She's A Man
Kung Fu Hustle
Perhaps Love
Tom, Dick And Hairy
Wheels On Meals
Companies :
Applause Pictures
United Filmmakers Organization (UFO)
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Page 2 : Coming soon
Special thanks to Zoe Chen

Chinese have long realized foreign languages are vital to globally expand their fields of opportunity. Equally aware, Hong-Kong-born filmmaker Peter Chan Ho-sun launched and pursuit his film career thanks to his command of Mandarin, Cantonese, English and Thai. Chan entered the cinema industry as interpreter and assistant of John Woo for Hero Shed No Tears, a B-movie shot in Thailand in 1983. The same year, instead of going back to college, Chan traveled to Europe to work with Jackie Chan (on Wheels on Meals, 1984 and Armour of God, 1987).

Despite this hectic debut with his homonym, Chan (Peter) has never directed any action movie on his own. Rather, he's preferred to focus on people's life and drama. A strategy proven to be successful within his own film company UFO (United Filmmaker Organization) established early 1990s. Many films made under UFO (Tom, Dick and Hairy; He's a man She's a Man; Comrades: Almost a Love Story) were applauded by critics and moviegoers alike and demonstrated that the Hong-Kong film industry wasn't solely based on action flicks or cheap comedies.

Not only a unique director, the 44-years old Thailand-raised filmmaker is also a visionary who's very clear on the local film industry situation. He realized in 1997 this industry was doomed and was living its last glorious days. He then established a new Asian film company, Applause Pictures, to give many Asian filmmakers (from Korea to Thailand) opportunities to experiment and to move away from the usual Hong-Kong film formulas. Perhaps Love was made in such context. The USD 10-million musical, co-produced by Ruddy Morgan (Million Dollar Baby), offers spectacular set designs and Broadway-style musical numbers. The splendidly photographed and choreographed gem also gathers a cast of Asian superstars (Zhou Xun, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Jacky Cheung and Ji Jin-hee). Influenced by American and European classics (Curtiz's Casablanca, Fosse's Cabaret and Truffaut's Day for Night), the reflective and educated Chan made Perhaps Love as a movie-within-a-movie featuring a love triangle plot and providing hints about Chinese filmmakers' lifestyle. All these topics are discussed below.

Conférence de presse de Perhaps Love à Shanghai


HKCinemagic : Elaborate on the concept of Perhaps Love
Peter Chan : We worked diligently on the script to make two extremes come together: the over-the-top imagination, style and unreal situations of a musical versus real situations of a contemporary love story. When we decided to make Perhaps Love, the whole purpose was to bring the audience back to theatres. If we'd made a love story [alone] most of the audience would have preferred to watch it at home. We had to add [something] to persuade the audience to go back to cinemas.

I had to try to make the love story works within the musical context. My films are mostly reality-based and quite different from musicals. I had to find a way to portray musical elements in a very realistic setting; that is the ‘movie within the movie' plot. So it gives a legitimate reason to the actors for singing. I wanted the audience to relate to the characters when they go back to the dialogue scenes.

HKCinemagic : You shot the dance scenes in the movie backlog of the Shanghai Film Studio in Songjiang district. Why did you choose this overly-used location?
P C : I was discouraged many times to do that, because a lot of movies were done there (Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle, 2004). I knew early on that I wanted to go there because precisely nobody has ever shot it as if it was a fake location. Everybody shot it as a real location. In my movie I tell you it's a film set. It's the first time the audience sees this location like that. But it's really the same street; it's [just] a question of perspective.
HKCinemagic : Does Perhaps Love portray the perfect love story?
P C : No. All the titles of my love stories are imperfect, like Comrade: Almost a Love Story and Perhaps Love. There is always a question mark. A lot of people call me a very romantic director and say I make romances. My movies are never romantic; they're about people being selfish. I've never count on finding the perfect love.

When I was doing Comrades, I had a very good conversation with Maggie Cheung who said that in any relationship, if one walks away from the other, there is not other reason but he or she doesn't love her or him enough.

HKCinemagic : That's exactly what happens in Perhaps Love .
P C : It's a very scary though for someone who's so in love. Contemporary love stories are always about one person loving more than the other. And even technically that is not romantic if you want to think of a bitter approach of life. You could actually write a movie about bad people, because if they walk away they're [considered as] bad.

Perhaps Love had very extreme responses, some people loved it and some hated it. Those who hated it thought Zhou Xun's character wasn't sympathetic. They used their brain to watch the movie. You cannot use rationality to watch my movies. If you use your heart, without dissecting the characters, then you will go with the flow.

HKCinemagic : Can co-productions between Shanghai and Hong-Kong like this one be parts of a solution to the crisis in the Hong-Kong film industry?
P C : Now Hong-Kong filmmakers know that unless you extend your film influence outside Hong-Kong, they shouldn't have the right to make movies for six millions people. There are just not enough people to watch movies to justify an investment. In the past, Hong-Kong was the Chinese filmmaking capital for Chinese expatriates all over the world, but that has stopped. Right now, our biggest hope is China .

One of the solutions I've tried for a few years was to work with fellow Asian filmmakers.

Perhaps Love isn't a traditional Hong-Kong movie, but I still think that the spirit of Hong-Kong filmmakers is very much evident inside the film. If I was from Chinese mainland, the story would have been very different.

Zhou Xun
Takeshi Kaneshiro
HKCinemagic : Actor/singer Jacky Cheung said the movie was quite autobiographical for you.
P C : Everybody keeps saying it's autobiographical. Cheung's character is a director, and I am a director; of course it sounds biographical. I think there is a nothing autobiographical in term of story.

However, it's autobiographical [in a way], because we, Hong-Kong filmmakers, definitively need a bigger market for Hong-Kong films. So we [the director in Perhaps Love and Chan] are going through the same thing, we need the movie to be bigger.

It's my most personal film but it's not autobiographical; I don't have a beautiful young actress wife like Cheung's character!

HKCinemagic : You have a movie project about uprooted Chinese in the mid-1950s
P C : My grand parents went to Thailand at a very young age before the outbreak of World War II. My parents were born in Thailand . They grew up in Thailand , but spoke Chinese all their life and they came back to China early 1950s.

They then left China in the 1960s, that's why I was born in Hong-Kong. But a lot of families were actually separated for over thirty years. It's a theme for a movie I've been trying to make for the last eight years. And I actually got tapes of all the [separated] old people and their reunion in Thailand . They all are in their seventies now. Actually I have to make it sooner because I've got everybody's videotapes and they're dying one by one!

HKCinemagic : You've two other projects.
P C : The other project is Waiting, an adaptation from Ha Jin's novel. And the [third] project is an action film. Well, it's based on historical facts from the late Qin Dynasty and it's called Ci Ma . Actually [Hong-Kong director] Chang Cheh made his own version with David Chiang, Chen Kuan Tai and Ti Lung in 1973 [Blood Brothers]. It's a movie about three brothers. The big brother, played by Ti Lung, becomes the governor of Nanjing under the Qin Manchu. The youngest brother, portrayed by David Chiang, comes back and assassinates him. It's a sort of brotherhood movie. To me it has a sense of gangster movie in a way; it's a genre I am most fascinated with.
HKCinemagic : What advices would you give westerners to better understand Chinese movies?
P C : All my life I tried to make movies I don't need to explain! I hope Perhaps Love is one of them. I hope I can just make a movie, and not a ‘Chinese' movie; you don't have to put an adjective before it.

[But] Chinese movie themes need to be more universal. When I watched When Harry Met Sally [Rob Reiner, 1989], I was looking at Chow Yun-fat and Maggie Cheung in Hong-Kong. In my mind I wasn't looking at Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in New York ! So if Hollywood movies can do it, why can't we? Why do we need to say ‘it's a Chinese movie'?

After a screening for Perhaps Love, one guy came to me and said that half way through the film he forgot he was actually reading subtitles. It's the biggest compliment I've had for Perhaps Love .

Zhou Xun et Peter Chan
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