On the threshold: Urban exchange and intervention in Flora Lau's Bends (2013)

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The metaphor at the heart of Hong Kong filmmaker Flora Lau's debut feature film, Bends (2013), set in the border spaces of Hong Kong and Shenzhen, is that of intersection. By constructing a quietly observant view of life on both sides of the Sam Chun River, which separates Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, Lau's film inhabits this metaphor by cutting through the public and private domains with a narrative of intimacy and connection at the nexus of wider socioeconomic concerns. Delving into Hong Kong-mainland relations, Bends inserts the real-life social issues of immigration, border control, economic privilege, and China's one-child policy into its diegesis to capture Hong Kong at a moment in time. In considering the intertwined relationship between identity, politics, and urban space, this paper employs the trope of disappearance perpetuated in critical discourses on Hong Kong as a point of departure to explore the distinct filmic topography of Bends, which attempts to cinematically preserve the dynamics of the city under Chinese administration. In so doing, this paper also examines Lau's interest in giving marginalized female groups narrative agency to shed light on an alternative perspective of the special administrative region and its unfolding relationship with the motherland.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-205
Number of pages26
JournalFrontiers of Literary Studies in China
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

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