Director: ANN HUI

122 minutes| Hong Kong| 2009| Subtitled| Colour| Dolby Digital Stereo| 35mm

The title of Ann Hui’s compelling drama deliberately references Alain Resnais’ seminal Holocaust documentary. For her second film exploring life in Hong Kong’s most notorious estate, Tin Shui Wai or ‘City of Sadness’, she focuses on the desperate plight of the region’s socially deprived lower classes. We begin at the end: Hui’s film is a bleak account of the true-life murder of a Chinese immigrant, Hiu-ling (a remarkable performance from Zhang Jingchu) and her two children by her estranged, violent husband (an equally impressive Simon Yam). Less a whodunit than a why-it-happened, the fractured narrative is book-ended by the murders: we helplessly witness the build up to the bloody denouement in flashbacks that juxtapose time and mood, moving from violent arguments to scenes of tender intimacy. This domestic horror story puts a uniquely Hong Kong spin on an all-too-universal predicament: small lives ruined forever by unfortunate circumstance and all-too-human frailty.

Book Tickets