Cries and Whispers: Film Retrospective of Lee Isaac Chung

Venue: Louis Koo Cinema, Hong Kong Arts Centre  
Date: 2022.07.29 - 2022.08.06
Price: HK$80 / HK$64* 
(Please scroll all the way down for film and screening details)
 
Programme Schedule
29/7 (Fri)   7:45pm   Minari
30/7 (Sat)  7:45pm   Lucky Life
31/7 (Sun) 7:45pm   I Have Seen My Last Born
5/8   (Fri)   8:00pm   Abigail Harm
6/8   (Sat)  7:45pm   Munyurangabo and Masterclass on Film Directing with Lee Isaac Chung

This retrospective honours one of the most celebrated and extraordinary filmmakers of our time, Lee Isaac Chung. It was supposed to take place in May, the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which pays tribute to Asians and Pacific Islanders who have enriched the country's development and history. Yet, due to Hong Kong’s sudden Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent temporary closure of cinemas, this programme now takes place in July – in a safer place.

Chung’s stories, like the recent happenings of Hong Kong arts programmes and life, are trajectories subject to their time and fate. While Hongkongers and other peoples have been painstakingly coping with the tragedies of the pandemic and other earthshaking events, Chung’s characters exemplify how humans survive the chaotic nature of life – be it personal or communal – in fury, in tension, in dazedness, in tenderness, in humour and in other emotional complexities, along with resilience, versatility and hope.

Our programme title, Cries and Whispers, might recall the masterpiece of the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. All outstanding filmmakers are primarily great for their primal urge and distinct artistry to carve profound human conditions onto film. In Chung’s oeuvre, concerns are wide-ranging - such as war, illness, discrimination, displacement, loneliness and death. He strives for authenticity in his filmmaking, and his stories are full of cries and whispers from the depths of human psyche. But Chung’s style is gentle and subtle, always allowing space for audiences to observe and evolve with the characters as their journeys ebb and flow. His films are not only about Americans or Asian Americans - they are about human beings - hence their appeal to people far and wide. 

In this programme, the Hong Kong Arts Centre and the U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong & Macau present five feature films by Chung, from his Cannes recognised debut Munyurangabo to his Oscar honoured historic milestone Minari. Our screenings will be accompanied by talks and a masterclass with Chung.

 
 
 
minari

Opening Film: Minari

29/7/2022 (Fri) 7:45pm
*Director Lee Isaac Chung will attend virtual after-screening talk. 
Moderator: Shu Kei (Film Critic)
Cast: Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, Youn Yuh-jung, Will Patton
USA | 2020 | 115’| In Korean and English with Chinese and English subtitles | DCP | Colour
 
Best Supporting Actress, Academy Awards 2021
Best Supporting Actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards 2021
Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award for U.S. Dramatic Competition, Sundance Film Festival 2021
Nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Directing, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, Academy Awards 2021
Nominated for Best Picture - Non-English Language, Golden Globe Awards 2021
Nominated for Best Film Not in the English Language, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Music, Best Casting, British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards 2021
 
Minari is truly the best. It grows anywhere, like weeds. So anyone can pick and eat it. Rich or poor, anyone can enjoy it and be healthy.
 
A tender and sweeping story about what roots us, Minari follows a Korean-American family that moves to a tiny Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream in the 1980s. The family home changes completely with the arrival of their sly, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving grandmother. Amidst the instability and challenges of this new life in the rugged Ozarks, the film shows the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.
 
Minari is a semi-autobiographical take on the upbringing of Lee Isaac Chung. Many critics declared it one of the best films of 2020. The director has cited Fyodor Dostoevsky and Willa Cather as inspirations when he wrote the story. In Chung’s words, the film is about “a family trying to learn how to speak a language of its own. It goes deeper than any American language and any foreign language. It’s a language of the heart.”
 
 
lucky

Lucky Life

30/7/2022 (Sat) 7:45pm
*Co-writer and producer Mr Samuel Gray Anderson will attend the virtual after-screening talk.
Cast: Daniel O’Keefe, Megan McKenna, Kenyon Adams
USA | 2010 | 97’ | In English with English subtitles | Digital | Colour
 
Nominated for Best Narrative Feature, World Narrative Competition, Tribeca Film Festival 2010
Nominated for Grand Prix, Bratislava International Film Festival 2010
Torino International Film Festival 2010
Moscow Film Festival 2010
 
Dear waves, what will you do for me this year?
Will you drown out my scream?
 
A beach trip from the past lingers in Mark and Karen’s minds as they prepare for the arrival of their newborn. One year, the ritual of a seaside vacation shared by a group of friends becomes a farewell for Jason, who is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Steeped in tenderness and affection, the friends continue their laughter and camaraderie in even the most quotidian activities, and conceal their grief to face the last days of Jason. As memory plays back, the couple embraces another phase of life.
 
Lee Isaac Chung’s contemplative, understated second feature on companionship, memory, life, and loss is inspired by the poetry of Gerald Stern, whose work lends the film its title. With much of the dialogue absent from the film’s outline, the actors improvise in the scene. The film has been shot in natural light without a storyboard, and Chung describes this spontaneous journey of filmmaking to seem like “an exercise of faith”. Eric Kohn of IndieWire praises the director for “his uncanny ability to elevate seemingly minor exchanges to a place of deeper significance”.
 
 
last

I Have Seen My Last Born

31/7/2022 (Sun) 7:45pm
*Co-director Samuel Gray Anderson will attend the virtual after-screening talk.
Directors: Lee Isaac Chung, Samuel Gray Anderson
Cast: Jean Kwezi
Rwanda, USA | 2015 | 79’ | In Kinyarwanda with English subtitles | Digital | Colour
 
Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2015
San Diego Asian Film Festival 2015
 
I thought about what it means to be a true human, and that’s what I chose to be.
 
Lee Isaac Chung and his frequent collaborator, Samuel Gray Anderson, return to Rwanda to co-direct a documentary on 39-year-old Jean Kwezi, who was marked profoundly as a young adult by the 1994 genocide: separated from his family, only re-uniting with them years later, long after they had assumed him dead. The dramatic events of Jean's reunion with his parents and, much later, the daughter that he once abandoned, have already taken place; but his deep emotions remain present. Each moment echoes the continuing power of these events and the vitality with which Jean has emerged from a dark past to live with a new purpose. What is he? How to be a Rwandan? What is Rwanda?
 
Chung’s only documentary continues to demonstrate the co-directors’ strengths as keen observers – respectful, unassuming and thoughtful. I Have Seen My Last Born is a powerful companion to Munyurangabo.
 
 
abigail

Abigail Harm

5/8/2022 (Fri) 8pm
*Ms Amanda Plummer (main actress) and Mr Eugene Suen (producer) will attend the virtual after-screening talk.
Cast: Amanda Plummer、Tetsuo Kuramochi、Will Patton
USA | 2013 | 80’ | In English with English subtitles | Digital | Colour
 
Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature and Special Jury Prize for Best Director, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2013
Busan International Film Festival 2013
Torino Film Festival 2013
San Diego Asian Film Festival 2013
 
It has nothing to do with love.
 
Abigail Harm reads books to the blind and lives at the edge of the city, where no one can see her. "You have no idea how it would be if one day you were the only person left in the city,” Abigail whispers to herself. She keeps her eyes turned away, but secretly she watches, listens, and hopes. She remembers an old story about a woodcutter who saves the life of a deer and is granted a wish. The woodcutter wishes for a companion. Before long, this tale seems to come alive as a mysterious man appears in Abigail’s world, and she falls in love with him.
 
Lee Isaac Chung’s daringly original take of the Korean folktale The Woodcutter and the Nymph exudes the air of a surreal urban fairy tale. Multiple Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress, Amanda Plummer, plays the titular heroine. She has starred in numerous films and TV series including Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction as the unforgettable Honey Bunny, and Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King. Violet Lucca of the Village Voice praises Plummer’s arresting and emotive performance, which “exudes more emotion in a wistful sideways glance than most actresses do over their entire careers.”
 
 
mun

Munyurangabo

6/8/2022 (Sat) 7:45pm
*Masterclass on Film Directing with Lee Isaac Chung will commence immediately after the screening.
Cast: Jeff Rutagengwa, Eric Ndorunkundiye
Rwanda, USA | 2007 | 97’ | In Kinyarwanda with English subtitles | Digital | Colour
 
Grand Jury Prize, AFI Fest 2007
Best First Film, Mexico City International Contemporary Film Festival 2008
Un Certain Regard, Cannes Film Festival 2007
Berlin International Film Festival 2007
Toronto International Film Festival 2007
Rotterdam International Film Festival 2007
 
What is your battle?
 
Munyurangabo is orphaned by the Rwandan Genocide and is eager to seek justice for his Tutsi parents. After stealing a machete from a market in Kigali, he and his Hutu friend, Sangwa, leave the Rwandan capital and return to their impoverished village, where Sangwa gets loving care from his family, and Munyurangabo is met with hostility from the family. “Hutus and Tutsis are supposed to be enemies,” Sangwa’s parents balk at this friendship. As the two adolescents confront and reconcile their differences, they also learn to survive the aftermath of the Rwandan Civil War.
 
This debut of Lee Isaac Chung is also the first narrative feature in the Kinyarwanda language. It started as a project to allow genocide orphans, returned refugees, the undereducated, and those barely making a living who were not film professionals to become Munyurangabo’s cast and crew. In the words of Chung, “[T]his is a film that focuses on memory, a collective one, and it was a quest to discover spiritual elements within memory.” American critic Roger Ebert calls it "in every frame a beautiful and powerful film - a masterpiece."
 

Masterclass on Film Directing with Lee Isaac Chung

6/8/2022 (Sat) After the screening of Munyurangabo
 
lic
 
Guest: Lee Isaac Chung (Director)
Moderator: Maggie Lee (Film Critic)
Venue: Louis Koo Cinema, Hong Kong Arts Centre
*Chung will join the masterclass virtually.
 
After a screening of his debut feature Munyurangabo (festival participation includes Cannes, Berlin, Toronto and Rotterdam), Lee Isaac Chung will share his journey of filmmaking with the audience - from starting his career as an independent filmmaker to receiving popular international recognition. Chung has been persistent in his art with an authentic vision and determined efforts. His is more than a story of success, but of a film artist who is brave, sincere and faithful to his medium and his viewers.

Tickets are now available on POPTICKET.hk.

 
Ticket Prices
Screenings $80 / $64*
Screening of Munyurangabo and Masterclass $100 / $80* 
All Access Pass (one ticket each for all 5 screenings and the Masterclass with 30% discount, service charge included) - $319 
Masterclass Package (one ticket each for I Have Seen My Last Born, Munyurangabo and Masterclass) - $150 
 
*20% discount for tickets for full-time students, senior citizens aged 60 or above, and people with disabilities and the minder and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients. Concessionary ticket holders must produce evidence of their identity or age upon admission.
*20% discount to HKAC members. Ticket holders must present a valid membership card upon admission.
*20% discount for each purchase of 4 or more standard tickets.
*Only one discount offer could be applied to each ticket purchase.
 
Co-presented by: Hong Kong Arts Centre, U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong & Macau
Partners: eslite bookstore, Golden Scene
Supporters: Africa Centre Hong Kong, Carbon Brews
Media Partners: Asian Movie Pulse, Film Pilgrimage, p-articles

 

Programmes are subject to change without prior notice.

The following measures will be implemented for screenings, to combat the prevailing threat of Novel Coronavirus:

  • All audience must wear face masks and comply with the requirements and restrictions announced by the Government
  • No smoking, eating and drinking. Unauthorised photo-taking, audio and/or video recording is strictly forbidden
  • Staff have the right to deny the admission of any person with temperature higher than 37.5°C
What's On
Exhibition
 
2022.01.01 - 2022.12.31
Exhibition
4/F, Hong Kong Arts Centre  
2022.05.25 - 2027.05.27
Exhibition
Jockey Club Atrium, G/F–4/F, Hong Kong Arts Centre  
2022.11.14 - 2022.12.11