In general Hong Kong cinema has not had much exposure at Cannes in the recent years, where mainly two auteurs from the HKSAR find favor-- Wong Kar Wai and Johnnie To. Wong and To exemplify the two antipodes of the reception of Hong Kong’s cinema in Western film festivals respectively. It is obvious that Wong is recognized by Cannes for his art film practices. As for Johnnie To, as international film producer and programmer Roger Garcia suggests in a recent conversation, his pass to Cannes probably has more to do with genre filmmaking, namely action films, thrillers and crime films. These genre films corroborate the opinion of the festival programmers and international audiences about what Hong Kong cinema is or should be like. To first entered Cannes with Breaking News out of competition in 2005, and once he got in there, it became easier to get in again, and again, and also elsewhere.
At the End of Day Break, photo courtesy of Golden Scene.
Genre films are relatively audience friendly and can travel more easily between national and cultural communities compared to films that are more restricted because of their local address. The Pang Brothers’ horror film Re-cycle (2006), for instance, was shown in Un Certain Regard. The twins Danny Pang and Oxide Pang are known for their ability to work transnationally, and, in many cases, Hong Kong’s cinematic “brand” has been diluted as Hong Kong filmmakers contribute to features made in Thailand, Malaysia, the People’s Republic of China, or elsewhere in the region. Recent years have witnessed the emergence of co-productions not only as blockbuster phenomena, but also in the festival film circuit, as is exemplified in the aforementioned At the End of Daybreak, Spring Fever and Ocean Flame.