Un-imagining the local/future : cinematic engagement with the absence of hope
Absence of hope, future imagination, local consciousness, cinematic engagement, postcolonial Hong Kong
With reference to the 2014 Umbrella Movement and Hong Kong’s uncertain fate come 2047, I ask how one un-imagines the cultural future of inhabiting the locality. As people take prompts from the present predicament to cope with real possibilities about the future, they realize that a strong embodiment of local consciousness permeates the sociocultural space. I discuss how such engagement takes place through cinematic experience, and examine tactics of the spectator’s critique centring around the erosion of hope at the core of everyday, intellectual and affective imagination. I trace the ways in which postcolonial subjects engage with hope and with the shock of hopelessness in a lived social imaginary. Examining in detail three differently representative recent films, namely, The Midnight After (2014. Dir. Fruit Chan, The Midnight After Film and One Ninety Films), Overheard 3 (2014. Dir. Alex Mak and Felix Chong, Sil-Metropole, Bona Film and Pop Movies) and Ten Years (2015. Dir. K. L. Ng (‘Local Egg’, Boon-deh dan), J. Au (‘Dialect’, Fong-yin), K. Chow (‘Self-Immolator’, Jee-fun jeh), F. P. Wong (‘Season of the End’, Dong sim), and Z. Kwok (‘Extras’, Fau gua), Ten Years Studio), I depict the modes in popular imagination that invoke people’s engagement with the ‘local’, albeit in its affective state. Accordingly, in the context of ‘externalized’ social realities, I identify three interlocking modes of cultural engagement, which I characterize as figurative, performative and prefigurative, respectively. In their ‘future’ imaginary, I look for ordinary people’s ways to face the absurdity of the status quo and the performativity of local struggles with the self.
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This article is based on a paper presented at the Association for Cultural Studies ‘Crossroads in Cultural Studies Conference’ held at Sydney University, 14–17 December 2016.
Chan, S. (2017). Un-imagining the local/future: Cinematic engagement with the absence of hope. Chinese Cultural Studies, 31(6), 820-836. doi: 10.1080/09502386.2017.1388418