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Hong Kong Film Directors' Guild - Directors - Patrick TAM
譚家明 | TAM Patrick

Time is life’s eternal lesson. Man can drift freely through spaces but can never break away from the boundaries of time. Artistic creations are attempts to confront our finite moments with endless imagination, in the hope of extending our ephemeral life and outlasting time. To me, making a film is to create memory and redefining time. To assemble our thoughts and emotions on sounds and images within a film’s realm is to transform our creative journey into steps toward the unknown— to understand others and to understand our selves. To explore the possibilities of film language is only a process. The reflective experience and deep understanding of human nature, enabling us eventually to face up to life, should be the ultimate goal. A film is a manifestation of emotional states. An auteur, therefore, should not stop short at depicting genuine emotions but get at the truth or inner reality of emotions. Filmmaking is a collaborative art, yet the auteur is forever alone, in solitude. The filmmaking process is like a ship on a long voyage with the best of professionals on board. The director, as captain, sailing the vessel across the sea, forever fixes his gaze on the endless nights. To steer the ship in the right direction that everyone’s creative efforts will not be wasted, the director can only uphold his faith and, with a great love and passion for cinema, unrepentantly leads the ship to the world’s end.


Patrick Tam was born in Hong Kong in 1948. The Wah Yan College alumni developed a strong interest in film at an early age and had written reviews for The Chinese Student Weekly and the Chinese edition of The Star. He started to work at Television Broadcasts (TVB) in 1967, first as floor manager and later becoming the on-location director for several series. After being promoted to director in 1975, he shot several acclaimed television series and won a prize at the New York International Film & Television Festival — one of the earliest international accolades for Hong Kong television. In the same year, TVB sent him to San Francisco for filmmaking courses. Tam continued to shoot television dramas on film upon his return in 1976 and Tam left TVB in 1977 to work as director for the short-lived Commercial Television.

Going into film in 1978, he managed to complete his directorial debut after going through much hassle. The Sword (released in 1980), starring Adam Cheng, quickly established him as a key figure of the emerging Hong Kong New Wave. Tam followed that with the Brigitte Lin vehicle Love Massacre (1981), which was shot in the United Stated. His 1983 film Nomad, featuring Leslie Cheung, Cecilia Yip and Pat Ha, garnered nine nominations at the 2nd Hong Kong Film Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay. In 1988, Final Victory, written by Wong Kar-wai, was nominated for eleven awards at the 7th Hong Kong Film Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Art Direction.

Besides directing, Tam occasionally takes on editing for directors with whom he has rapport, such as for Wong Kar-wai’s Days of Being Wild (1990) and Ashes of Time (1994) as well as Johnnie To’s Election (2005). His work on both of Wong’s films was awarded Best Editing by The Golden Horse Awards in their respective years. In 1996, Tam moved to Malaysia to work in the screenwriting department of HVD Production Company. In 2000, he accepted City University of Hong Kong’s invitation to teach filmmaking at its School of Creative Media.

Tam returned to directing, after a 17-year hiatus, with After This Our Exile (2006). His comeback swept the 25th Hong Kong Film Awards with five wins, including the top three prizes—Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay—while also being named Best Picture by the 43rd Golden Horse Awards. Currently, Tam is an associate professor at City University of Hong Kong’s School of Creative Media.

Year Chinese name English name Directors
2006 《父子》
After This Our Exile
1989 《殺手蝴蝶夢》
My Heart Is That Eternal Rose
1988 《雪在燒》
Burning Snow
1987 《最後勝利》
Final Victory
1984 《雪兒》
1982 《烈火青春》
1981 《愛殺》
Love Massacre
1980 《名劍》
The Sword