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By: Nga Ying LAU、Yuhe WANGEdited by: Leona Liu

Culture & Leisure

Art Department: The story behind the visuals

Irving Cheung Yee-man, a 40-year-old  film production designer and art director, once worked on film production in the Shaw Studio for 69 hours straight without sleeping. She would keep working but not be conscious about what she was doing. “Why am I still working?” was the realisation when her consciousness was delayed. For Cheung, working in the film art department is exciting, despite the high-pressure schedule and irregular working time.  “Few other industries have such a job that people working for it can tell others, ‘hey, I just witnessed an explosion today, or a bank robbery, even flesh-cutting from a corpse’,” Cheung said.  In Hong Kong, the rising popularity of recent domestic films has brought more attention to the film art department, which is often hidden behind the media spotlight and the cheers of moviegoers. As the directorial debut of award-winning visual effects specialist Ng Yuen-fai, the action sci-fi film Warriors of Future has become the highest-grossing Chinese-language film in Hong Kong of all time, taking over HK$80 million at the Hong Kong box office, according to data released by the official social accounts of this film.  With expensive and time-consuming production, Warriors of Future has impressed audiences with its rich visual effects and sparked a media discussion on Hong Kong’s special effects filmmaking.  To achieve the artistic presentation of a film, the art department is responsible for creating the overall visual look of a film in collaboration with the director. An art department is supervised by a production designer whose job can be divided into three stages: pre-production, scene creation and post-production. Production designers will discuss and co-create the backgrounds of the film characters at the pre-production stage when the script has yet to be developed. Then, the production designer will lead the art director and costume designer in …

Culture & Leisure

Hong Kong film industry questions for its revival era

In October, two local films, "Warriors of Future" and "Table For Six", broke over HK$70 million at the box office while some movie related people wonder whether the Hong Kong film industry can have its second glorious "1980-90" era.  "As time passes and more significant events occur, there will inevitably be more compelling movie ideas.," Luk said.   "Warriors of Future", starring Louis Koo, Lau Ching Wan, and Carina Lau, is the biggest movie ever made in Hong Kong while "table of six" became the top Hong Kong-produced comedy at the box office in Hong Kong in 2022. Luk said social events can inspire new themes to Hong Kong films and create a craze. For example, a 2002 film "Internal Affairs" created with the background after Hong Kong's handover in 1997. Hong Kong is also attempting to produce a wider genre of films. Over half of the films with the gangster genres in the 1970s to 1990s to kung fu films such as “Ip Man” series from 2008 to 2019, the Hong Kong films mostly are about themes of police and bandits. “By introducing science fiction films to the local market, "Warriors of the Future" has made an important first step for Hong Kong's film industry,” said Luk. Chan Hoi-king, 21, a former film student in Hong Kong Baptist University, now studying at the University of Birmingham thinks the Hong Kong film industry is expected to revive. “The government has begun to face up to the development of the film industry, and the rebirth of Hong Kong film is expected,” said Chan. The Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau has set aside approximately HK$240 million to promote the development of Hong Kong films. Eligible film projects will receive a maximum of HK$9 million in funding under the new measure "Asian Cultural Exchange …

Culture & Leisure

Local art gains more attraction while censorship fears continue

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Aruzhan ZEINULLA、Dhuha AL-ZAIDIEdited by: Nicholas Shu
  • 2022-12-23

A typical day for Ka Yu Ng, a 32-year-old independent artist in Hong Kong, starts by reflecting her anxious thoughts, embracing her sensitive emotions; feelings of vulnerability that she once hated and tried so hard to supress growing up. She spends most days on Peng Chau Island in her small studio, embraced by the melodic instrumentals playing in the background, engulfed by the scent of sandalwood incense, as she channels her feelings into art, words, and music.  Away from the hectic city, 5+2 studio, named after her childhood nickname which sounds like “five plus two” in Cantonese, is Ng’s daily personal exhibition venue where she is free to produce visuals.  Having been in Hong Kong’s art scene for three years, Ng thinks the local art has developed. “The locals are more aware of building their own style. I believe it’s a very good start,” she said. Local art in Hong Kong has been gaining more attention since the social movement in 2019 and the shortly followed COVID-19 pandemic. However, some artists have faced restrictions on creativity, which has led them to question the extent of their artistic freedom.   “The social unrest and the pandemic are reminding people that something in this place needs to be protected, the culture in particular,” Ng said.  Hong Kong comprises approximately 29,420 creative establishments, with around 136,470 members, according to the official website of the local government. As a culturally dynamic city, it boasts 11 components of the cultural and creative industries, including arts, antiques and craft, accounting for about 5% of the city’s GDP. This year, the government announced a series of new subsidies for art talents. Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu pledged new funding for the new generation of artists, in his first Policy Address in October. Financial Secretary Paul Chan committed several …

Culture & Leisure

Reviving Hong Kong’s flower plaques tradition

In a narrow and cluttered shop, Lee Chui-Lan, 68,  leans over a table piled with materials and brushes, stapling sheets of shiny metallic paper together to make flowers. Surrounded by yellowed photos on the peeled wall, she works in a cramped storefront where vivid handmade peacocks hang from the ceiling. The inconspicuous flower plaque shop is called Lee Yim Kee, located in Shap Pat Heung, Yuen Long District. Lee, the owner of Lee Yim Kee, inherited the store and the craft from her father Lee Gam-Yim, who set up the shop the year his daughter was born. She started helping out in the shop in her early teens and experienced the most prosperous years of the flower plaque-making business.  In the 1970s, giant flower plaques on display around  Hong Kong were common. Nowadays, they can only be found in the New Territories and walled villages. Hong Kong has 480 Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) items, and traditional flower plaques craft is one of them. With limited government support, the craftsmen struggle to survive in a rapidly changing society.  Flower plaques are huge colourful displays, mainly made of bamboo, fabric and paper. Most are meant for  celebrations or announcements of festive events such as the opening of new stores, weddings and birthdays. Back in the days when there was no internet to  disseminate information, flower plaques were useful in spreading messages. “When a family or company held an event, people passing by would know about it quickly by looking at the flower plaques,” said Lee. The process of making flower plaques involves writing messages, making paper flowers, crafting the structure and assembling the different parts. Over time, various crafting techniques developed. For instance, messages that used to be assembled with cotton eventually changed to paint. “Sometimes, we will use the computer to …


Hong Kong's landmark Sikh temple sees its rebirth after a five-year reconstruction amidst blessings

A sea of flowers and colourful flags bedecked Khalsa Diwan, the only Sikh temple in Hong Kong. The aroma of food lingered in the air and wafted through the gate, alongside greetings and laughter resonated across the temple, to celebrate its reopening after a five-year renovation last month.  The holy place that sat at Wan Chai for over 120 years was finally opened to the public with a makeover worth HK$230 million. Expanded by more than five times to 76,000 square feet, around 7,060 square metres, the temple has three stories that feature a larger prayer hall, an upgraded library, a bigger kitchen and a medical centre wholly operated by volunteers,  according to its official website, to better serve more than 10,000 Sikhs in the city. The costly project was made possible solely by donations from fellows and Sikh-led communities, said Gurdev Singh Ghalib, the convenor of the reconstruction project.  Sikhism, the world’s fifth largest religion, gathered more than 25 million fellows worldwide, according to a volunteer organisation The Sikhcoalition. From the far south of India stretching to Hong Kong, Sikhism enriches the city’s cultural diversity to spread warmth and enthusiasm.    In 1841, after the Sikhs landed in Hong Kong, they started their first prayers in a small room of the former Central Police Station, where Tai Kwun sits now. 60 years later in 1901, the Sikh temple was built on government-issued lands by the Sikh members of the British Army Regiment stationed in Hong Kong.  Since then, it has served as a community centre for the Sikhs. It provides not just a place for worship but a place with food, shelter and education for whoever is in need. The temple officially reopened on Nov 8 for a reason. “We decided on this date to celebrate our founder Sri …

Culture & Leisure

Hong Kong cartoonists keep calm and carry on drawing

For the last 13 years, Kylie Hung Ka-yi, a 30-something local cartoonist known as Lobintan, has been drawing about her life as a wife, mom and cat owner. She has published 20 comic books, and though she doesn’t specialise in political cartoons, her content sometimes involves social topics, such as the Olympic Games and 1989 Tiananmen Square protest.  Hung said she worries about her career as press freedom in Hong Kong diminishes.  “In the past, I never have felt the future would be inky, but now I feel it is unlighted, sometimes I have fears,” said Hung. “I have no idea when I will cross the line. I have to be as careful as possible.” Hung is one of a handful of cartoonists in the city who worry about the political red line especially when two political cartoonists received police complaints for their artworks, a blow to an industry already struggling with declining sales.  Justin Wong Chiu-tat, an editorial cartoonist and  a former assistant professor of visual arts at Hong Kong Baptist University, who previously drew a daily political comic strip column named “Gei Gei Gaak Gaak”, which means chicken chirping sounds in Chinese, for 14 years in Ming Pao.  Wong first time ever received a letter from Hong Kong Police expressing “strong dissatisfaction” and “concerns over unreasonable allegations” in one of Wong’s comics satirising youth police group Junior Police Call in September 2021.   Wong later apologised for being unfair and admitted its inappropriateness, saying he respected the contributions made by the Junior Police Call, according to RTHK.  In late October, veteran political cartoonist Zunzi received police complaints saying his Ming Pao cartoon on the government's recruiting talents policy was “misleading”. “I don’t think there are many political cartoonists left in Hong Kong after the introduction of the National Security …

Culture & Leisure

Hong Kong towards NFT art at slow pace, with unstable market factors

In the work of Hong Kong NFT artist David Leung, a cooked hairy crab on the dining table could turn into a bee-like creature, with its fangs bared at the audience.  "Sometimes I look at food, they look back at me,” said Leung. He got inspiration from the food he works with every day and started to make photograph collections of food, manipulating them into perfect symmetry monsters.   Leung entered the NFT industry earlier this year. As a part of his NFT photograph collection entitled Hairy Halloween, the hairy crab images already gained 0.3 ETH, a kind of cryptocurrency used by digital marketplace Opensea, or HK$ 2860.3 for him. Just like Leung, a number of artists or art creators in Hong Kong have attempted to explore the use of  NFT, either for art creation or trading, although the market is yet well-established. NFTs, or non-fungible tokens are blockchain-based digital assets, such as digital art or music, or tokenized physical assets, such as homes, automobiles, or papers. And every NFT has its own identification code and metadata to distinguish them from one another. The government set aside HK$100 million to push the city on the road of “art tech” after former chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced the plan in her last policy address in November 2020. And many organisations, for example, the auction house Digital Art Fair, embraced the idea of digital art assets, especially NFTs. "NFT art has recently been fairly popular with many generous investors in Hong Kong," said Heiman Ng, the Head of Business Development for the Digital Art Fair.  "This year, we auctioned 21 pieces of art in partnership with Sotheby's. A single piece by Jacky Tsai, our digital artist of the year, is worth between HK$3 and HK$5 million." About 10.7% of adults …

Culture & Leisure

Cosplay culture in Hong Kong: an interesting way for the youth to express themselves

An annual Comic Convention, HKU Cosplay Party 2022, was held on the campus at Hong Kong University on Nov. 13. This new entertainment and display activity is popular among the youth. It is becoming a new way for young people to express themselves and broaden their social circle. YouTube link:

Culture & Leisure

The fourth Hong Kong illustration and creative show: Borderless

A two-day Illustration and Creative Exhibition is held for the fourth time, compiled of about 300 illustrators from Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea. The exhibition is at Kowloon International Trade & Exhibition Centre on Nov. 26-27.


World Cup makes business better, pub owners say

Two weeks after the beginning of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, pubs in Hong Kong saw an increase in revenue during the world-class tournament. The group stage of the game finished last Friday. As the competition heated up, The Young Reporter found the business of bars during the World Cup period has improved. Lee Dong Baek, 49, a pub owner in Tsim Sha Tsui expected to produce 15% more profit than usual, according to the number of guests that have made reservations in advance during the tournament. “Hong Kong is a global city,  the pub will be crowded throughout the World Cup season,” he said. Yoon Yong-ho, 58, the owner of a beer pub in Tsim Sha Tsui, which has been running for 11 years, said liquor sales have increased since the cup competition began as customers will “stay longer during the matches.” He added that patronage of large groups of customers is the major source of income during the World Cup. Lee Myung-jin, 31, a football fan from South Korea, booked a pub with her co-workers three days ago to cheer for her home country.  “If Korea wins today, I don't think spending money will be a waste,” she said. Chan Wai-ming, 21, one of the customers, also said that the atmosphere in the pub can stimulate his willingness to spend more money and time. Yet, pub owners and customers are also facing restrictions despite the government scrapping the limitation on opening hours for dining premises on Nov. 3. Guests need to take rapid tests less than 24 hours before entry, and no more than six people can sit at one table. Yoon said it was sad that he could not see more customers coming because of limitations on gathering. The time difference also hinders a significant increase …