About five months ago, I received a short animated Hong Kong film via email as a submission for the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. Combined with a very poetic story about a gay man in Hong Kong, it was one of the most gorgeously animated films I have seen in a long time. Four months later, that film, LOSING SIGHT OF A LONGED PLACE, and its three filmmakers, Jess Wong, Ricky Wong and Shek Ka Chun, went from having their very first film have its world premiere at HKLGFF to winning the Golden Horse Award for Best Animated Short. We got the chance to ask one of the directors, Jess, about the film and winning the award.
Dim Sum: What was your Golden Horse Award experience like?
Jess: It was our first time nominated for such scale of Film Arts Award. Golden Horse Award is being described as ‘Asia Oscar’, it has developed its authority and reputation by running over fifty years. From the perspective of watching it through livestream at home, to sitting in front of the stage that night, we were absolutely overwhelmed (with gratitude) by this once in a lifetime experience.
We never expect what we did for the past year could lead us to this stage. Meeting a lot of seniors and new friends, who are fully devoted to Film Industry and Arts. Most importantly gathering a group of people who enjoy the process of production and creation. By appreciating their works and exchanging our thoughts and ideas on issues that we care about, are something that helped us to clear up our mind, further determined our spirit on working in what we love, and promised to make a good use of it.
It was like a dream since nomination to standing on that stage. Getting recognition for this animation short film — Losing Sight of a Longed Place, we believed that not just us, but the value of many of the others are being seen. Again we were really lucky and blessed to have received so many help and support by people around, so that we came over to this stage.
Dim Sum: Did you miss anything you wanted to say on the stage at Golden Horse?
Jess: Yes, definitely. We were worried about overrunning the show. And also feeling completely blank in mind at that moment! There are lots of people that we have missed to acknowledge.
We would like to share the honor with our 9014 fellows — all the days and nights of hard working in 0413 are being paid off, I believed insistency is something that has deeply implanted in us. After all, things we have been through, let’s achieve our goals together and create animations that we enjoy!
To all our LGBT friends — thank you! Thank you for the trust in us. We have been receiving so much love from all of our friends. Without your support we could have never completed this task. Sometimes it’s not about our sexuality, but the common feelings that we all shared when we are living in the same society, facing same obstacles every day. No one should feel lonely as we are all equal, after all everyone shares same emotions as a human being. Thanks for teaching us to appreciate little things in life, feeling delightful is just as simple and direct!In the coming years, Tai Wan will be facing lots of challenges on constitution amendment for same-sex marriage. While each steps forward are crucial as it sets first example in Asia. Policy and supporting scheme are utmost important in this issue. We will need more attention worldwide, on-going discussions in our societies. Only if more people get involved and care about it, we then can make things better and sort out for solutions. Good things are always worth to wait.
Dim Sum: How did the three of you share the director duties?
Jess: Animation production are time and manpower consuming. As we are a relatively small scale of crew, basically three of us needs to be involved in all duties. Ideas development and script writing for voice over in this animation were the most challenging part. We have been working on 4 different versions before locking on the current last version. There are lots of interesting stories from Adam and our friends. But because of the consistency of our story within a short duration of time, we have to abandon many side stories and packed up with the current version.
Dim Sum: The screenplay is based on whose story and what made you decide to tell it?
Jess: The screenplay is based on the actual life experiences of Adam Wan — Former Chairman of ActionQ, project executive of Midnight Blue. We decided to document Adam’s story as we shares similar thoughts towards our society, his multiple identities act as a presentative of many locals, including the three of us, to express our we feelings about our current societal situation, and struggles of coming-of-age. We hope that by illustrating Adam’s story, the audience could feel and think in the shoes of our generation.
Dim Sum: Who is your favourite animation artist?
Jess: No any specific favourite. There are many excellent artists with their own personalized work. Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo, Perfect Blue by Kon Satoshi etc are incredible classic animations that gave great influences to many of the famous films, animations and artworks nowadays. With more online sharing platform commonly being used, works by many amazing animators around the world could be seen easily. We could share thoughts and ideas instantly and directly, which benefits a lot of creators.
Dim Sum: What do you think about the LGBT rights movement right now?
Jess: I think the LGBT rights movement in Hong Kong is still falling behind than many other developing countries. In fact, sometimes I feel like less people care about such kind of issues when it is not something that connected to them. Many of us care about things only when we are part of the stakeholders. To push one movement further, it is important to have as many people involved in policymaking. It is hoped that nothing is being too late when we only deal with issues after incidents or any lawsuit. We should bring up better proposals to continue to improve our current state, before people leaving things behind and never come back facing it. We should look for a better society by building it all together.
Dim Sum: What is next for you guys?
Jess: Not sure yet. Right now we are still buffering from Tai Wan and would like to have more time to think about our future plans. We all hoped to keep working on what we love, but we surely need a working place, time and ideas on what to do next. I guess it is not something rush so we can give some time to each other. Please stay tuned and also feel free to brainstorm us!
Interview by Russell Boaz