Hong Kong 2012 Diary: Specials – The Strange Case of Hong Kong Amoy Cinema

Southeast the Peacock Flies

The Amoy-dialect cinema of Hong Kong is a strange breed of works. They were produced in Hong Kong but were seldom shown in the then colony. They were made in the Amoy dialect of southern Fujian but, as far as we can determine, never shown in the province.

The films were targeted mainly towards speakers of Fujian dialects, chief among them Fujian émigrés in Southeast Asia and Mannanyu speakers of Taiwan. Ironically, residents of Fujian were not able to see them because of political barriers. The cinema came into being in the late 1940s and became popular in the 1950s, suffering decline in the 1960s.

Over 200 titles were produced in total, with established actors, directors, scriptwriters and other behind-the-scenes personnel. A few stars enjoyed great popularity, becoming household names among Fujianese-speaking populations. Early projects were mostly costume pictures, but films of contemporary settings were made in increasing numbers in the second half of the 1950s.

Most of the films had been lost. The Hong Kong Film Archive had throughout the years acquired a small collection of titles, some of them in prints, some in only VHS formats. We are proud to present a selected number of those films in this program. Titles blown up from VHS suffer from very poor visual qualities and will be shown free of charge.

(Part 2 of “The Strange Case of Hong Kong Amoy Cinema” will be held from 8 April to 27 May. Please refer to Hong Kong Film Archive’s ProFolio 62 and www.filmarchive.gov.hk for details.)

Films include Southeast the Peacock Flies by Bai Yun; A Good Couple by But Fu; and Siren of the Dance Hall by Xu Xinfu.

(from the site)