January 09, 2006


No, it's not an alarming new name for a plumbing problem. Talent backflow is Hong Kong director/actor/producer Eric Tsang's name for what just might save the Hong Kong film industry: the old timer talent that went overseas coming back to Hong Kong. Jackie Chan has done it, Tsui Hark has sort of done it, Chow Yun-fat is doing it, and so is John Woo.

Tsang is a smart guy, and he's waving the flag for Chinese film pretty hard in this interview at Xinhua ("We are still saying 'Chinese mainland movie', 'Hong Kong movie' and 'Taiwan movie', but have you ever heard of 'New York movie', 'Los Angeles movie' or 'Hawaii movie'?"). His point is that the big stars could pull in audiences but they all went to Hollywood, and the young stars are too small-time to whip thousands of cinemagoers into a giddy frenzy.

He also thinks that the emphasis on mega-productions like THE PROMISE or micro-budget productions like BUTTERFLY can't save the industry, but if directors start making more medium budget movies they just might stand a chance.

Then he goes after Mainland Chinese filming rules:

"When we are shooting a cooperative movie, we are always troubled by restrictions. We cannot do this, we can not do that. Finally, the movie turns out boring. Be more tolerant and open-minded, it will do good for all."

In the old days, Tsang never could have said this and traveled to China again. You've come a long way, Tsangy.

In other Mainland news, China's culture industry was just estimated to have generated US$150 million in 2004. Read more about China's culture industry and GAPP, the government body that controls political content in the media, is raining on everyone's parade.

January 9, 2006 at 11:12 AM in News | Permalink


Actually, I believe his point is that people in Taiwan, HK, and the Mainland should be talking about CHINESE MOVIES, rather than dividing them up into Taiwanese, Hong Kong, and Mainland Chinese movies... just as people talk about AMERICAN MOVIES, rather than dividing them up between L.A. and New York, etc.

Of course, his point is a bit questionable, since people - at least in American - speak more of HOLLYWOOD MOVIES than of AMERICAN MOVIES, but just the same, most would use "HOLLYWOOD" as a catch-all for any big budget American film, regardless of whether or not there was Hollywood money behind it.

Posted by: Paul | Jan 9, 2006 9:54:52 PM

But what about films that speak about aspects of history or life specific to Taiwan, Hong Kong or mainland China? Does it make any sense to refer to CITY OF SADNESS as a Chinese film rather than a Taiwanese film?

Posted by: Steve | Jan 10, 2006 9:56:45 AM

Yeah--calling a Taiwanese film a Chinese film only makes sense if you want to get in with the Chinese government. Calling a Hong Kong film a Chinese film makes at least political sense, but as long as there's a distinct HK industry that doesn't make much sense either.

And there is such a thing as a New York movie, but nobody likes Woody Allen very much anymore.

Posted by: Justin Slotman | Jan 11, 2006 1:12:47 PM

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