Dir Yonfan | Cast: Voices by Sylvia Chang, Zhao Wei, Alex Lam, Yao Wei, Tian Zhuangzhuang | Hong Kong 125’
Celebrated filmmaker, photographer, art connoisseur, and collector Yonfan returns after a decade with this languorous debut animation that visits the cauldron of political turmoil and repressed desire that was the Hong Kong of his youth.
The story unfolds within the confines of an upmarket residential block in 1967, when the streets of Hong Kong were fraught with leftist protests erupting in violence between anti-colonial demonstrators and police. Meanwhile Ziming (Alex Lam) is experiencing an eruption of a different kind, involving his own sexual awakening. As a student reading modern literature at the university, he takes on a part-time job teaching English to a family recently exiled from Taiwan. Meiling (Zhao Wei) is the daughter of Mrs. Yu (Sylvia Chang), a single mother and exporter of luxury goods to Taiwan, whose own youth has been fraught with revolutionary unrest. Ziming’s arrival stimulates literary debate about Brontë, Proust and Cao Xueqin while in the background the family’s collection of cats are capable of all kinds of mischievous behaviour. Ziming is beguiled both by Mewling and Mrs. Yu, as he embarks on an education no university curriculum could possibly provide.
Blending art and history, politics and eroticism. No.7 Cherry Lane showcases a new animation process, turning original 3-D illustrations into 2-D images on rice paper. Yonfan has created a delicate aesthetic that feels modern yet steeped in tradition, offering a unique paean to Hong Kong’s past that is tongue in cheek, informative and erotic. MT
VENICE FILM FESTIVAL 2019 | COMPETITION