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Chow’s relationship with film is entwined with her hometown. “My parents took me to the cinema to watch movies from a very young age. I’ve always been an addict of television, films and pop culture,” she says. International audiences, however, were first introduced to and enchanted by the city through the 1960 production The World of Suzie Wong, and by the inimitable martial artist Bruce Lee, whose popularity endures to this day.
Of course, the city is much transformed from the world of Suzie Wong, but not beyond recognition. Progress has reshaped the waterfront and much of the architecture has made way for glass and steel structures, but sampans still bob in Aberdeen Harbour and timeless tong lau can be found wedged between contemporary buildings, the intoxicating allure of old Hong Kong all the more pronounced for its proximity to the modern metropolis.
However, Chow believes there is a difference in how Hong Kong is represented by directors who are more familiar with the city. “I think international filmmakers like the setting, they like the aesthetics, they like the chaos,” she says. “But then Hong Kong filmmakers are different, they tell Hong Kong stories. To them, Hong Kong is not just a set, it’s part of the story, it’s a character.”
And it is this character, this ever-evolving, evocative urban jungle that Chow admires: “It’s fascinating, even today when I look at Hong Kong Island from the other side of Victoria Harbour, I’m still mesmerised by it.”
Movie buffs looking to learn more about Hong Kong and its film industry should beeline to the excellent Avenue of Stars on Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade pays tribute to the city’s movie stars with impressions of their handprints and statues.in Sai Wan Ho to browse a rich repository of movie-related materials. Now in its fifth decade, the annual Hong Kong International Film Festival (March–April) showcases shorts, feature films and documentaries by both local and global filmmakers, culminating in the star-studded awards event. Serious aficionados might also want to check out the associated Entertainment Expo Hong Kong. One of Hong Kong’s top attractions, the