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Home arrow CINEMA arrow VENEZIA77 | Ann Hui, Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement
VENEZIA77 | Ann Hui, Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement
Written by Giorgio Placereani   

Di yi lu xiang (Love After Love)
by Ann Hui (Cina, 141')


The movie is about the story of a girl who arrives in Hong Kong from Shanghai in order to improve her education, but instead ends up working with her aunt who uses her best seductive weapons to attract rich and powerful men as “hunting trophies”. Ann Hui describes her choice as a director, all the way back from when she made the choice on which story to tell: “The film is an adaptation of Eileen Chang (Zhang Ailing)’s first published short story. I love this novel because it’s a brutal story about a mixed-up, hypocritical milieu in Hong Kong shortly before the Second World War. Here, the tropical and primal world is dressed in eclectic fineries and the most melodramatic emotions and relationships are expressed matter-of-factly, as if they were ordinary. I wanted to express this unique set-up, rather than filming another fancy love story.”

The human being comes first: This could be the motto of Ann Hui’s cinema. The common characteristics in all his films is participation. After having studied cinema in Hong Kong and London, Hui worked on TV series in Honk Kong, all of excellent quality. Not only did she start here to explore the constant themes in her filmography (attention to human and social relationships, mother-son relationships, the theme of exile, the influence of the past on the present, and the question of Chinese identity), but it can be argued that television has contributed to create the functional sobriety for which her style is known. The eldest of the masters of the Hong Kong New Wave has a style – elegant and inventive – that is simpler and less flamboyant than her colleagues: Hui encloses it in the folds of the narrative. After her debut with the thriller The Secret (1979), which was followed by the comedy on ghosts The Spooky Bunch, in her long career Ann Hui cemented herself in a variety of genres; Painful stories on the tragedy of the Chinese in unified Vietnam, Boat People (1982), wuxiapian such as The Romance of Book and Sword (1987), horror films like Visible Secret (2001), bitter comedies like The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (2007), and political dramas like Ordinary Heroes. And of course the intimate dramas for which we know her best, based on a narrative minimalism in which Hui concentrates her attention on the immediate dimension of gestures, arriving at a striking emotional strength concealed in the immediacy of daily life.


A denunciation of the suffering that the Vietnamese of Chinese ethnicity had to endure during their persecution by the government of the newly unified country. It was filmed with support from China, whose government however later banned the distribution. In Hong Kong it was also viewed as an allegory to the incumbent menace of China on the city.  

A woman who is not well-off financially has to care for her father-in-law who has Alzheimer’s. Ann Hui does not transform the story into a caricature; the developments are comical but not farcical, with an implicit softness. A sublime reference to Tiananmen Square is also seen when the old man stops in front of a car.

A ghost story set in a Hong Kong with a disturbing atmosphere. Not without a touch of irony, the film maintains an element of ambiguity between believing and not believing. The beautiful Taiwanese actress Shu Qi is cast with black glasses and dark lipstick, a new look for her.

A widowed working mother, a son who is uncertain about his future, and an elderly woman with whom they make friends in the neighborhood. A moving elegy of family affections, through small things the film conveys the sense of the flow of life and of the past that quietly manifests itself in the present.

The relationship between a cinematographer and a housemaid who over the decades has become like a mother to him, in the moment in which she has to retire. A refined movie that shows a secret and demure mastery. Coppa Volpi for best actress for Deanie Ip in Venice in 2011.

War drama on the anti-japanese resistance in Hong-Kong, centered on the relationship between mother (Deanie Ip) and daughter. In this epic-patriotic theme Ann Hui also shows her attention to small psychological details and to human relations.