Yingjin ZHANG (University of California, San Diego) , Transregional Imagination in Hong Kong Cinema: Questions of Culture, Identity, and Industry, by English/14 Pages, November 2003.
This paper argues that transregional imagination characterizes Hong Kong cinema from its incipient stage all the way to the new millennium. Such a strategic transregionalism is central not only to recent debates of ideological questions such as Hong Kong's cultural identity and the ”„China syndrome' in Hong Kong cinema but is also crucial to industry practices throughout Hong Kong film history. The paper first analyzes the anxiety and instability in film critics' attempts to define what counts as ”„authentic' Hong Kong culture in relation to regional Cantonese tradition and cosmopolitan Shanghai influence in the 1950s-1960s. By discussing the instances in which films of the period confronted and acknowledged the heterogeneity and hybridity of Hong Kong identity, this paper calls attention to the cinematic negotiation and integration of regional Chinese cultures as seen in fashionable urban comedies showcasing ”„nanbei he' (literally, the mixture of south and north), as in some Eileen Chang films. Even in the martial arts genre of the 1970s, cultural nationalism played to the popular imagination in Hong Kong and overseas, and historically helped Hong Kong cinema expand its market in Taiwan, Southeast Asia and Euro-America. Citing historical evidence from major industry players like Minxin, Tianyi, Grandview, MP&GI, Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest, this paper concludes that transregional imagination is both fundamental and beneficial to Hong Kong cinema.