After graduating from the School of Journalism and Communication at Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1984, Julian Lee worked for TVB as researcher and scriptwriter, later joining the film industry in the mid-1980s as art director and scriptwriter. He also worked as a writer, penning columns in newspapers such as Oriental Daily, Ming Pao, Sing Tao Daily and Hong Kong Economic Times, as well as serving as photographer, editor and writer for City Magazine, a publication marked by glossy design and eclectic coverage.
In 1988, Lee went to the Royal College of Art in London to study photography. Graduating with a Master’s degree, he won the support of the art organization New Contemporaries and had his work exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1991. He remained in London as a photographer and video artist, his work having been shown in London Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival and other European events. In 1994, he joined the British Film Institute’s Screenwriters Program and developed his first screenplay, paving his way to become a director.
Lee returned to Hong Kong in 1997 and adapted his own novel into the feature The Accident (1999). He was then awarded a film grant from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council in 2001 to turn his suspense novel Night Corridor into film. Night Corridor (2001), starring Daniel Wu, who also produced and invested in the film, became an official selection at the Hong Kong International Film Festival in 2003 and was screened in 17 international film festivals including those at Freiburg, Las Palmas and Bogotá. The film was nominated at the Golden Horse Awards for Best Actor (for Wu) and Best Supporting Actress (for Kara Hui Ying-hung), and won the Best Supporting Actress prize (for Hui) in the 2004 Film Media Awards in Mainland China.
The success of Night Corridor ensured Lee’s position in the film industry as an independent director. Diagnosed with peritoneal cancer in 2007, Lee turned his battle with the disease into the project Stoma, which was chosen to participate in the Golden Horse Film Project Promotion and the Pusan Promotion Plan in 2010.
In 2009, Lee received the Asian Cultural Council’s Starr Foundation Fellowship, going to the University of California at Los Angeles as a visiting scholar on academic exchange. He had served as consultant to Film and Media Arts Group of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, on jury panels of the Hong Kong Film Awards and was associate professor on film, photography and creative writing at the City University of Hong Kong. He is currently receiving medical care in England.
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