Saturday 8 July 2017

The Current Cinema - A major new film from China, OUR TIME WILL COME. The film's editor Mary Stephen writes about her love for director Ann Hui

Editor’s Note: The impending arrival of Ann Hui’s new film Ming Yue Ji Shi You/Our Time Will Come created more than a few frissons of anticipation. My friend Tony Rayns did the subtitles and another friend Mary Stephen edited the film. For Mary, it was perhaps the biggest and most complex undertaking of her film-making career which stretches back for close to forty years and has included making her own films as well as editing for Eric Rohmer, the young Turkish directors Huseyin Karabey and Seren Yuce, and the Chinese film-makers Freddie Wong and Haibin Du among many others. Mary is also known as a great teacher and mentor and later this year will be in Australia again working as mentor to Zain Duraie, a young woman film-maker from Jordan, as part of Duraie’s first feature project. (The workshop is sponsored and organized by the Asia Pacific Screen Academy (APSA) Development Laboratory, a year-round program run by APSA in association with Griffith University, Griffith Film School and NETPAC.)

When I noticed a Facebook post she had written about Ann Hui I asked her to expand it a little so that it might provide an insight into the work and thoughts of a major figure in Chinese cinema just as her new film appeared. Here is what she sent….

Ann Hui (l) on set
What I love most about Ann Hui is the fact that she remains true to herself, always and entirely, with no pretenses and no compromises.   No compromise to herself. I mean -  no studied awkwardness or soulfully pained expression about having to make compromises for the market, for securing the ‘ticket’ to be ‘allowed’ to make another film.  No pretending to be purer than Thou, never implying to know everything about the trade after 40-plus years in the “business”.  She is just herself, especially as time goes by and as age gives her license to be even more frank and direct and self-mocking as she sees fit. Without hesitation she’ll talk to you about her shortcomings, her wrong choices, her mistaken hopes, a few youthful indulgences of vanity, a few regrets, but everything being part of the long road of life.

Winnie Fu, Chan Wing Chiu (Assistant Director), Mary Stephen
and Ann Hui
Frank, honest, no-nonsense.  One can accommodate dropping in the middle of a film a dialogue about the fine points of a line of Song poetry, and, making hard choices unflinchingly because of the necessity to work (and not just the luxury of desire) and the reality of having to make a living out of this line of work.

There are no longer very many like her in this “line of work”: this “line of work” that even adds “business” or “industry” to its name. 

Just the way she is, telling it like it is, and inviting and accepting all interpretations to a work which is, as always, a work-in-progress of a lifetime, waiting for the next round to complete what she has learned from this one … just this, the way she is and the place she occupies in the wide map of this art/business/industry. It should be enough to make those who love to criticize for a yes or a no think twice, especially when the polemics center around reasons which have nothing to do with this object which is The Film, nor with this person who is The Filmmaker always in the process of renewing herself, trying out territories not yet trodden, even at the risk of walking straight into brick walls.

Now here’s the prose for the film’s premiere from the South China Morning Post and, in Chinese, from the New Zealand Chinese Herald

Our Time Will Come is playing at selected Hoyts Cinemas around Australia. For Session Times click here 

Zhou Xun, Our Time Will Come


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