Jessey Tsang, Movie Director

The Hong Kong director talks to Robyn Or about her connection with Ho Chung’s history and people through filmmaking.

Jessey Tsang

I grew up in Ho Chung, a 400 year old village with mostly indigenous villagers. When I graduated from sound design at HKAPA’s School of Film and Television in 2001, I made a short film starring my mother and grandmother.

I believe technology sparks creativity. I finished my Master of Fine Art programme at the City University of Hong Kong at a time when video making became easier and commonly accessed.

In 2008, I was the assistant sound mixer of “Lust, Caution”, a movie by Ang Lee. The scale of filmmaking and acting atmosphere was deeply rooted in my heart. I knew I wanted to be a director – to bring people, sound and visuals together.

The shooting took place in Hangzhou where I first encountered the overseas branch of Honeymoon Dessert, a dessert shop which originated from Sai Kung. I believe globalisation brings illusion into our senses so I asked myself what I could do to preserve my memory as well as the culture of the village.

As a villager and filmmaker from Ho Chung, I have a sense of responsibility to bring the village’s beautiful scenery to the screen and to encourage the public to explore not just the nature but the connection between family, community and history. Every time I talk to the villagers, I have a fresh new perspective towards the village.

During the past 10 years, filmmaking was a medium to express my personal view on everything. It doesn’t matter whether I am a commercial or independent filmmaker, as long as I am able to deliver stories.

Funding is not as difficult in Hong Kong compared to Mainland China. The Hong Kong Arts Centre provides filmmakers monetary support. However, the market scale of an independent film is still niche here.

I’m not going to say I am a feminist but a woman’s story is always the feature of my films. For example, Big Blue Lake is about a young woman who returns to her native village after years of living abroad. Flowing Stories is a documentary of my childhood neighbour, the Lau’s, whose children are dispensed all over the world. These female-focused films surprisingly spark discussion of women’s status in such a conventional village.

Hong Kong women are tough, hardworking and efficient. Undoubtedly society brings them pressure so they tend to hide their true feelings and desires. In my upcoming film, the story is about a woman who is in a deadlock situation in her marriage. By going back to the community, she eventually learns to listen to her heart and appreciate herself.