The Cinema of Small Nations

By Mette Hjort; Duncan Petrie | Go to book overview

6. HONG KONG

Ackbar Abbas


HONG KONG AS A 'PARA-SITE'

Can there be a national cinema in the absence of a nation-state (however small) and, more importantly, without the aspiration for a nation-state? This is the question posed by the Hong Kong cinema, which has become one of the world's more important cinemas, while Hong Kong itself has never been and will never be an independent nation-state. Before 1997 an economically developed British Crown Colony whose gross domestic product exceeded that of many small nations, and now a Special Administrative Region of China with an assurance that its status will remain unchanged for fifty years, Hong Kong has always been a political anomaly, a special case. However, it is arguably its ambiguous position vis-à-vis nationalism and self-determination that has been instrumental in stimulating the emergence of a successful international cinema: a cinema that has produced a string of outstanding films, a growing roster of auteurs like Wong Kar-wai, Ann Hui, Stanley Kwan and Fruit Chan, and some would even say a distinctive cinematic style. It is precisely the paradoxical nature of the Hong Kong case that allows us to raise certain kinds of critical questions about 'the cinema of small nations', including: Can 'statelessness' generate a 'national cinema'? And if so, how can we understand the 'national' in cinema?

Statelessness can take different forms. Perhaps the most poignant and embattled example of a stateless national cinema is Palestinian, which not coincidentally displays a number of broad similarities to the Hong Kong cinema, despite the many political and historical differences between them. In the introductory

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The Cinema of Small Nations
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One - Europe 21
  • 1. Denmark 23
  • 2. Iceland 43
  • 3. Ireland 60
  • 4. Scotland 76
  • 5. Bulgaria 93
  • Part Two - Asia and Oceania 111
  • 6. Hong Kong 113
  • 7. Singapore 127
  • 8. Taiwan 144
  • 9. New Zealand 160
  • Part Three - The Americas and Africa 177
  • 10. Cuba 179
  • 11. Burkina Faso 198
  • 12. Tunisia 213
  • Notes on Contributors 229
  • Index 233
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