A Simple Life

Based on real people and events. Ah Tao was born in Taishan, China. She works as a servant for 60 years and has been serving four generations of the Leung family. For the past decade, Ah Tao lived with Roger, the only family member left in Hong Kong. [Synopsis courtesy of TIFF]

All About Love

A sharp and funny exploration of the complex world of adult relationships, “All About Love” takes a rare look at the lives of queer women and their specific challenges when it comes to creating a family. Known for her cleverly observed societal dramas, Ann Hui is one of Hong Kong’s most respected filmmakers. Here, she balances the serious themes of motherhood, sexuality and discrimination – topics rarely addressed in Hong Kong cinema – with wit, humour and compassion.

Macy (Sandra Ng), a bisexual lawyer with a fear of commitment, is frustrated by the judgmental attitudes of lesbians, but wants to get back in the female dating game. Urged by her good friends and their life partners to settle down, Macy runs into Anita (Vivian Chow), an ex-girlfriend who is pregnant after a one-night stand with Mike (William Chan). Macy, who is also unexpectedly pregnant with her neighbor Robert (Eddie Cheung), rekindles her romance with Anita, but her fear of commitment threatens to derail their plans to start a family together. Anita is devastated when her co-workers ostracize her after discovering that she’ll be a single mother, and this intensifies her thoughts of giving up the baby.

Chow, who returns to the big screen after a 14-year absence, is radiant as Anita, developing irresistible chemistry with Sandra Ng, who brings her great comic and dramatic timing to her performance. While “All About Love” is structured as a commercial romantic comedy, its themes are radical in scope. By presenting queer relationships as the norm and deconstructing the idea of a nuclear family, Hui has expertly crafted a film that dispels stereotypes on what constitutes a family. Hong Kong, for all its modernity is, at its core, still extremely conservative and traditional in terms of gender roles and family values, with no civil rights for same-sex couples. Hui subtly challenges such ideas and reminds the audience that the most important aspects of any relationship are not gender and convention, but love and commitment. [Synopsis courtesy of Giovanna Fulvi, Toronto International Film Festival]

The Golden Era

Directed by Ann Hui (A Simple Life, God of Killers, The Postmodern Life of My Aunt), the film traces the life of Xiao Hong, one of China’s most famous essayist and novelist, reflecting the progressive thinking not frequently seen during the time period. Set in 1930s China, the film uses personal accounts and the author’s own writings in piecing together a turbulent life in a turbulent time.