ACMI, HKIFF and Create HK present
Inspired by the observational documentaries of Frederick Wiseman, Cheuk Cheung’s elegantly constructed documentary offers a fascinating backstage pass to a travelling coastal roadshow showcasing traditional Cantonese opera.
A portrait of a unique cultural space for spirits, gods and people.
For over a century, the residents of coastal villages in and around Hong Kong have invited Chinese opera troupes to perform during ritual celebrations. Cheuk Cheng’s fascinating documentary focuses on a number of these – villages including Sai Kung, Po Toi, High Island and Peng Chau – that are continuing the tradition of building temporary bamboo theatres to celebrate the birth of Tin Hau, the goddess of the sea. Hand-crafted without a single nail or staple gun in sight, these ephemeral structures evoke giant Kerplunk games (for anyone old enough to appreciate the reference) before being clad with metal sheets.
Once constructed, Cheuk’s roving camera captures the myriad backstage rituals of a small army of stagehands, set dressers, wardrobe assistants, make-up artists, musicians and actors as the opera troupes prepare to perform to local community audiences. Shot without narration, Cheuk’s film offers a gently paced, meditative and absorbing view into some of the unique architectural and cultural traditions coastal Hong Kong communities continue to uphold.
– Roberta Ciabarra; Curator, Film
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Unclassified (All Ages)
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About the director
Cheuk Cheung is a graduate of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. After graduating, Cheuk honed his technical skills as a production assistant and assistant director on films including Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution. Bamboo Theatre is his third documentary on Chinese opera: in 2012 he directed My Way, for which he was nominated in the Best New Director category at the Chinese Film Media Awards, and in 2015 he followed that documentary with My Next Step, on Kunqu opera. For Bamboo Theatre, Cheuk Cheung received the Special Mention Award at the 2019 Hong Kong Film Directors' Guild Awards. The film was also recognised as a Film of Merit at the 26th Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards.
READ: Meet The Masters Behind Hong Kong's Most Extraordinary Bamboo Theatre
Zolima Citymag, The Theatre Times, Jun 2020
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