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Interview with Barbara Wong Chun Chun
She dares ! Page 1
Author(s) : Thomas Podvin
Date : 24/1/2004
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Karena Lam Kar Yan
Candy Lo Hau Yam
Movies :
Protege De La Rose Noire
Truth Or Dare : 6th Floor Rear Flat
Women's Private Parts
< Previous
Our warmest thanks to Barbara Wong Chun Chun for her kindness and patience.

Interview made on the third day of the Lunar New Year.

The first picture was very kindly provided by Barbara Wong. Other pictures are courtesy by their copyright holders, all rights reserved. Thanks extended to Alvin from UUU.

An interview with Barbara Wong Chun Chun

Picture kindly provided by Barbara WongShe Dares… Barbara Wong has a different background from most HK directors. She graduated from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts - School of Drama, where she majored in Acting. She then became a DJ at Hong Kong Commercial Radio before going to the USA to study filmmaking. She became very good at shooting documentaries and made in 2001 Women's Private Parts for which she was awarded 'Best International Feature Film' in the 2001 New York International Independent Film Festival. This documentary talks freely about women desires and sexuality in modern Hong Kong society. Then, Barbara Wong took part to Lam Wah-Chuen's Runaway Pistol, an independent movie in which she beautifully portrays a prostitute battered by her boyfriend and using a pistol to solve her problems. Wong's following directorial move is Truth or Dare: 6th Floor Rear Flat, released in 2003. This films is a very realistic picture of nowadays youngsters in Hong Kong confronted to various issues (sex, economy, unemployment, estate in HK etc). She puts in this film all her acting knowledge and creates her own acting-direction techniques, which proves to be very efficient. In 2004, Barbara Wong teams up with Donnie Yen to make Protege De La Rose, a funny tribute to the Chinese heroine Black Rose. She is now working on a new movie: The Marriage Celebrant.


HKCinemagic.com: Can you briefly introduce yourself and tell us how you started in the film industry?
Barabara Wong: I actually started as an actress. I went to Academy for Performing Arts in HK studying DRAMA- major in acting. After I graduated, I got offers from TV station, HK Repatory Theatre and HK Commercial Radio (as a DJ) and I finally chose to be a disc jockey because I thought to myself that I was not the tall gorgeous 'lead role' type and I would be limited as an actress. During the three years as a DJ, I continued to act on stage and gradually fall in love with film. I realized that my passion is for 'drama', which is not limited by only 'acting'. So, I decided to go to New York University to study filmmaking. My student film 'Hugo' was chosen the best film of the year and of course that gave me a lot of confidence. After NYU, I started a production house in New York to shoot freelance news and documentary for NBC, CNN, ABC… and on the other hand, to make independent films.



HKCM: Women's Private Parts is a very interesting documentary that deals with a wide range of personalities and behaviours, from common relationships to prostitution passing by gay people. Why did you choose to deal with so many cases? Did all this research on female sexuality lead you to a conclusion or a personal belief on man and woman relationships in Hong Kong?
BW: I chose to deal with so many cases because women from different walks of life might have different opinions in love, sex, men… And I wanted to be open to different points of view rather than putting/pushing my opinion by choosing only 'certain types of women' as a director. 80% of the interviewees are my friends or friends of a friend, that's why there's certain trust in the interviews that led them to be honest and open. I think the 'female sexuality' conclusion is not only HK, women nowadays are more independent and open, that's for sure. And the conflict between men and women will always be something that cannot be solved, but that makes men and women relationship interesting. There will be no fun if men and women are the same.

HKCM: You lived in New York for a while. Do people talk differently about these topics (sexuality, men and women relationships) in the West and the East?
BW: Yes, there is a difference between East and West. My experience in New York told me that Americans are actually not that open, but they always 'portray' that they are very open, or want to believe that they are most free-spirited people in the world. While Mainland China is totally opposite. They always portray that they are still traditional, but actually, they will do things that shocks you. What I mean is they are truly open in their bones but not showing it. About people in Europe, that I don't know enough.

HKCM: Women's Private Parts was truly informative on woman's desires. What do you think of the giant difference that exists between woman's desires and the view point men have on women as it is sometimes portrayed in Hong Kong movies ?
BW: HK movies still portray women as the sweet lovely cutie pie, which is still true, but it's only one side of many sides of women. But I guess that is 'the side' that men want to see and feel desirable and comfortable to watch. So filmmakers would rather only capture this side, which I don't object.


Courtesy of Filmko Pictures


HKCM: Something stroke me while watching Women's Private Parts and Truth Or Dare. It seems that you really want to leave people a right of reply. Do you think that the actual society don't let women and youngsters express themselves enough?
BW: I think society don't let anyone express enough. Or put it this way, it doesn't encourage anyone to express themselves. I think every society has their rules and regulations to keep things under control, which we need. But as an artist and filmmaker, I do think it's my mission to let people express and encourage or inspire people to be expressive in their lives and not to be bounded and limited by the society.

HKCM: Do you think that the Hong Kong society (and the Chinese society in general) has still a long way to go before reaching a true sex equality state? Can you elaborate on an example in the entertainment circle for instance?
BW: Yes, true sex equality has still a long way to go in the WORLD. But you'll be surprise at what I'm going to say now. I don't think sex equality is so important. Men and women are from completely two different planets. Why bother to get equality, as A never equals to B. We should all try to 'be ourselves', stick to our own believes and go for what we want as an individual instead of always claiming that the world is not equal.


Courtesy of Filmko Pictures
Truth Or Dare
Courtesy of Filmko Pictures
6th Floor Rear Flat


HKCM: Truth Or Dare : 6th Floor Rear Flat is a comedy, but it's so realistic, it really looks like a documentary sometimes. It is right to believe it's a rather realistic view on nowadays youth in Hong Kong? Did you put some personal experiences into the script?
BW: Yes, it is a pretty realistic view on nowadays youth in HK. I've done quite a lot of research and hung out with them a lot before making the film. No, I did not put my personal experiences in the script but all the characters are based on the young people I know, so, it's pretty realistic.

HKCM: In Women's Private Parts you manage to make women speak their mind about sex in front of a camera. In Truth Or Dare you made an outstanding work in directing so much lively young people. There are some terrific pieces of acting there. I am thinking of Karena Lam and Candy Lo performances for instance. How did you prepare the shooting with them? Did you use the same directing techniques in both features?
BW: The way I direct may be it's a bit different from most directors. For Women's Private Parts, as I said, most of the interviewees are my friends, and in Truth Or Dare, I spent a lot of time with all the actors before shooting the film. I went karaoke with them, we drink and sing together, we became friends and we have total communication even before shooting. I understand their characters and therefore try to put it in the film. They also understand that I want their INPUT. I want them to be a REAL person in the film rather than 'acting' only. In a way, you can say that the directing techniques are similar in both films, and I guess it's my way of making films and will be like that in the future. I don't look at it like making 'my film', but making 'OUR film'.

HKCM: Black Roses (or Protege de la Rose Noire, in French !) deals with the very popular Chinese heroine Black Rose. What was your motivation in taking part to this project and in modernising its subject with young teen idols like the Twins?
BW: I've always admire the heroine Black Rose because of her 'principles' in life, in which these principles are losing in this generation, that is to say do what you promise, trust that we can make the world better by touching people, honesty and be responsible for all our acts… I think it's great to make an action comedy about it so that young people can get the message through a lot of entertainment (I hate to preach!). And of course, Twins are the idols that young people can relate. To be able to relate to the characters of films is VERY IMPORTANT. And young people can definitely relate to Twins.


Courtesy of Universe
The Black Rose aka Protégé de la Rose


HKCM: What you would you say to people who enjoy your work?
BW: Cherish your life and make the best out of it. Have a dream and go for it, even when a lot of times it's risky and may not work out right away. Be yourself and don't let regulations bound your imagination. You are what you want to be. If people enjoy my films, I hope that they do get inspired by characters and the message of the film. In the future, I will try to work on different issues and subject matters but the theme will be similar - DON'T GIVE UP.
Awards & nominations:

- 2001 Women's Private Parts was awarded 'Best International Feature Film' in New York International Independent Film Festival.
- March 2002, Eve Magazine has selected Barbara as '10 Most Envied Women 2002'.
- April 2002, she was nominated for 'Most Outstanding Young Director' in The 21st Hong Kong Film Awards 2002 for Women's Private Parts.
- November 2002, Barbara is awarded 'HK Ten Outstanding Young Persons 2002'.
- April 2003, she was nominated for 'Best New Actress' in The 22nd Hong Kong Film Awards 2003 - for the film Runaway Pistol.
- February 2004, she was nominated for 'Best New director' in The 23rd Hong Kong Film Awards 2004 - for the film Truth or Dare: 6th Floor Rear Flat.

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