Personality and Morality in Screen Performance: Hong Kong Film Criticism and Social Reform of the 1920s

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Abstract

During the early 1920s, film production and cinema-going emerged in Hong Kong, and several publications began discursively promoting film culture. The earliest extant examples of film criticism written by Chinese writers in Hong Kong can be traced to three publications: Xinbizhao yingxilu (Coronet Motion Picture Bulletin 1924, six issues), Yingxihao (“Film Corner,” a film column in the newspaper Chinese Mail 1924–1925), and Yinguang (Silver Light 1926–1927, five issues). Silver Light, allegedly the first film periodical in Hong Kong, was founded by Wei Chunqiu, Pan Qingxin and Yang Weiwen, with Mo Hanmei in charge of reader submissions and Chen Qiwen of art design. The magazine was inaugurated on 1 December 1926, by the Film Arts Society, a nonprofit organization for film enthusiasts, during the Hong Kong–Canton General Strike (1925–26). The strike severely impacted the local film industry in the following four years until 1929, with many film studios and production companies forced to cease operations or move to Shanghai (Chu 2003, 5–6). Nevertheless, Silver Light continued to be published, bearing witness to the ongoing development of film culture in Hong Kong through its discursive practices. One of the magazine’s features was its comprehensive coverage of the film industry in both Hong Kong and China, including news and updates on the latest productions, directors, and actors. Additionally, Silver Light provided its readers with news and updates from foreign countries, allowing them to stay informed about the latest developments in the global film industry. Through in-depth analysis and critical commentary on the film industry and individual movies, Silver Light helped to shape the discourse around cinema in Hong Kong and fostered a greater appreciation for the art form among its readers (Yu Mowan 1996). In doing so, the magazine aimed to elevate the social status of what was then considered lowbrow entertainment to the level of serious art.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Asian Cinemas
EditorsZhen ZHANG, Debashree MUKHERJEE, Intan PARAMADITHA, Sangjoon LEE
PublisherRoutledge
Edition1st
ISBN (Print)9781032199405
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 3 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Prof. Emilie Yeh for her invaluable contributions in raising important questions and providing insightful comments for the first draft of the chapter. I would also like to extend my thanks to the editors of the anthology, particularly Prof. Zhang Zhen and Dr. Debashree Mukherjee, for their meticulous feedback and guidance, which have been instrumental in refining my argument. Their generous support and encouragement have been crucial in the completion of this work. I am truly grateful for their inspiration.

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