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August 2000, Week 2


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 9 Aug 2000 12:59:10 -0400
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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>Which leads me to ask if anyone knows if David Bordwell, who just >published a book on Hongkong cinema, does speak chinese or >kantonese. Bordwell could serve as an interesting example, as he is >often acknowledged for rigorous scholarship.

Bordwell's linguistic abilities may be unanswered for now but Hong Kong does present a unique situation in that--for US viewers at least--we are able to see a country's film output more or less unfiltered.  I don't know how many films from Canada or England get even a perfunctory US release but I would think 20 percent is optmistically, even ridiculously high; films not in English drop even more drastically.  But due to British imperialism that required by law English subtitles and increasing immigration from HK over the past 15 or so years, Chinese video stores in the US are filled with huge chunks of HK releases with no attempt to appeal to non-Chinese audiences but that are accessible to anybody who can read English.  In fact, it's very hard to imagine films like "Ebola Syndrome" or "Man Behind the Sun" getting any kind of theatrical release in the US and even barely one on video.  But more generally the video stores heavily stock the kinds of films that don't appeal to the!
 fan-boy mentality of most American HK buffs:  romances, historical dramas, family epics, cute comedies.  It's sobering to see the enormous variety and quantity and realize that even with the recent interest and surge of English-language books that most of this is still practically unknown.  (Haven't read the Bordwell book but it seems to cover the same territory as most of the others.)


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