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Brandon Li put his short film Hong Kong Strong on Vimeo last week. The video sprang up all over my Facebook feed as proud Hong Kongers shared the video. There were a number of things happening. The Hong Kong Tourist Board was having its strategy and spend challenged by some of the public and Wan Chai was shut down as a senior Chinese official arrived in the city for a three-day inspection.
Why does Li’s Hong Kong Strong work? Its a beautiful piece of film in its own right and its cleverly edited. But you can see films with similar production values to Hong Kong Strong all over YouTube and Vimeo.
I think that the answer lies in the strong sense of place that it provides the viewer. In this respect it reminded me of Hollywood director John Ford’s The Quiet Man. Ford’s real name was Feeney and he was a first generation Irish American. His parents were from the west of Ireland (Galway and the Arran Islands respectively).
As with great art Ford poured some of himself and his sense of place into the mawkish comedy. That lack of irony and love the old country saw the film become a touchstone for many Irish Americans.
Hong Kong is a largely thriving city but the sense of itself is under attack as the city state is absorbed by mainland China, that process has caused a dissonance in Hong Kongers which is why a film with a strong sense of place resonated so much. Hong Kong Strong captures not only what Hong Kong looks like, but also the energy and vitality of what Hong Kong is.
Brandon accompanied the video with a description of how it was made. The film was boiled down from over 1.7TB of rushes.
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