I’ve always been thankful for my fortuity. While working at TVB’s film department in the late 1970s, I met directors such as Ann Hui, Yim Ho and Patrick Tam. In my time working with them, I was greatly encouraged by their cinematic knowledge and dedication to the creative spirit. Till this day, these are still the passions that drive me in my own creative work.
I’m thankful to be part of the generation of directors who began our careers during the golden age of Hong Kong cinema in the 1980s. Without the hard work of our predecessors, I’m afraid we wouldn’t have all the goodness of the golden age.
Stanley Kwan was born in 1957 in Hong Kong. After graduating from Pui Ching Middle School in 1976, he was accepted to the Mass Communications program at then-Hong Kong Baptist College (now Hong Kong Baptist University).
He signed up for the actor’s training program at Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) and later joined TVB’s film department upon graduation, working as production assistant for directors like Ann Hui, Yim Ho and Patrick Tam. As the Hong Kong New Wave emerged in 1979, Kwan followed his New Wave mentors to the film industry. He was assistant director for Peter Yung Waichuen’s The System (1979), Ronny Yu’s The Saviour (1980), Dennis Yu’s The Beasts (1980) and Tony Au’s The Last Affair (1983). But his collaboration with Ann Hui was most frequent, serving as her assistant director for The Spooky Bunch (1980), The Story of Woo Viet (1981), Boat People (1982) and Love in a Fallen City (1984), Kwan made his directorial debut with the Pearl City Films production Women (1985), which was produced by New Wave supporter Vicky Leung. In the following year, his sophomore effort, Love Unto Waste (1986), cemented his status as a Post-New Wave auteur. Adapted from Lilian Lee’s novel of the same title, Rouge (1987) won seven awards at the Hong Kong Film Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress. The critically acclaimed drama also garnered accolades overseas, most notably winning Best Actress and Best Cinematography at Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival. Filmed on location in the United States, Full Moon in New York received eleven nominations at the Golden Horse Film Awards in 1989 and won eight prizes, including Best Feature Film, Best Actress and Best Cinematography. In his acceptance speech, Kwan stated that A City of Sadness’s Hou Hsiao-hsien should have been the deserving winner.
In 1991, Centre Stage, a drama on the life of actress Ruan Lingyu, projected Kwan’s profile outside of Asia. In addition to winning Best Actress at the Chicago International Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Golden Horse Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Awards, Maggie Cheung became the first Chinese actress to be awarded the prestigious Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin International Film Festival. With her performance in Kwan’s adaptation of Eileen Chang’s Red Rose White Rose (1995), Joan Chen was rewarded with Best Actress awards from the Golden Horse Film Festival and Hong Kong Film Critics Society. In 1997, Hold You Tight was the recipient of the Alfred Bauer Prize at the Berlinale. Then in 2001, Kwan became a Golden Horse-winning director again with Lan Yu (2001), while leading man Liu Ye was named Best Actor at the same festival. Song of Everlasting Regrets, his 2004 film based on the novel by Wang Anyi, was recognized by the 62nd Venice International Film Festival with the Open Prize.
Besides directing feature films, Kwan is also an avid maker of short films, including Too Happy For Words (1993), Ying ± Yang: Gender in Chinese Cinema (1996) and Still Love You After All These (1999). In recent years, Kwan has turned his attention to the theater, having directed The Long River, an original Chinese musical, and Two Belles In Love, a Kunqu opera. Kwan also exhibits a keen eye for discovering new talent. Love is Not a Game, But a Joke's Riley, Love Will Tear Us Apart ’s Nelson Yu Lik-Wai, Night Corridor’s Julian Lee and So Young’s Vicki Zhao are some of the young filmmakers who made their debuts in Kwan’s work.
|Year||Chinese name||English name||Directors|
||Song Of Everlasting Regrets|
||The Island Tales|
||Hold You Tight|
||Red Rose, White Rose|
||Full Moon In New York|
||Love Unto Waste|