Too Much Reality? Reflections on the Educational-Observational Film World of Tammy Cheung & Augustine Lam

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)


“Human kind cannot bear very much reality” (line 17-18) as the bird observes in ‘Burnt Norton’, the first of T.S. Eliot’s four-part poem sequence, Four Quartets, giving the reader a bird’s-eye perspective on human behaviour. Tammy Cheung has expressed a similar viewpoint in respect of Hong Kong film audiences and their taste for escapist cinema in a number of interviews, she has given since coming to prominence as one of the city’s most admired and respected documentarians. She and her cinematographer and partner, Augustine Lam, have been directing the gaze of their observational-cinema-mode camera on Hong Kong as a civic society for two decades now, and the images are not always flattering. Employing a direct, fly-on-the-wall cinematography unmediated by spoken narrative or voice-over commentary, the pair see see their role as documentarians to do precisely that—to document events and allow the viewer to interpret or judge for her/him-self.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-153
Number of pages15
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2019


Bibliographical note

Except where explicitly stated, the views and arguments expressed in this commentary piece are those of the author, not those of Tammy Cheung and Augustine Lam.

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