Re-nationalizing the Transnational? The Cases of Exiled and Warlords in Hong Kong–China Film Co-production


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The increasingly intensified transnational circulation of films across (East) Asia has not only made co-production a more realizable option, but also a growing imperative, as film companies are facing keener competition for entry and domination in Asian film markets. While co-production offers various advantages, it might incur conflict because of cultural and political differences between the participating companies, or stringent standards set by one party. The Hong Kong-China co-production becomes an interesting case in point. Political and cultural proximity render this joint venture most natural and viable, and co-production has indeed soared after Hong Kong's return to its motherland in 1997. Under the auspices of the "one country two systems," the originally separate entities enjoy mutual benefits from this partnership. Yet Hong Kong film producers found themselves facing stringent and even fluctuating censorship requirements, especially after the screening of Lust, Caution (2007). This chapter examines the possible politics around co-productions, and the challenges it poses on the dynamics of transnational media and cultural circulation. Notions of transnationality and post-coloniality apply at this trajectory, as co-producing companies are caught in the tensions of globalization, localization, and even nationalization. How co-producing with China is seen as a financial means to revive its ailing film industry, but also a surrender of its political and cultural identity, becomes an impending dilemma for Hong Kong film producers. In the following discussion, I will focus on how Hong Kong film companies negotiate with the (shifting) censorship standards when involved in film co-productions in China, and some of the tactics involved in working round the censorship system through production and distribution. I will base my discussion on interviews with directors of film companies and specific film producers, using case studies such as Exiled (2006) and Warlords (2007). The two cases will hopefully pose interesting questions on the dynamics and challenges of co-production as a trajectory in the East Asian film collaboration and circulation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPopular Culture Co-production and Collaborations in East and Southeast Asia
PublisherNUS Press Pte Ltd
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9789971696252
ISBN (Print)9789971696009
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


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