Ann Hui’s Song of the Exile


Audrey Yue

ISBN : 978-988-8028-75-7

Film, Media, Fine Arts The New Hong Kong Cinema

September 2010

160 pages, 5.5″ x 7.5″, 11 b&w illus.

  • HK$195.00

The resolutely independent filmmaker Ann On-wah Hui continues to inspire critical acclaim for her sensitive portrayals of numerous Hong Kong tragedies and marginalized populations. In a pioneering career spanning three decades, Hui has been director, producer, writer and actress for more than 30 films.

In this work, Audrey Yue analyses a 1990 film considered by many to be one of Hui’s most haunting and poignant works, Song of the Exile. The semi-autobiographical film depicts a daughter’s coming to terms with her mother’s Japanese identity. Themes of cross-cultural alienation, divided loyalties and generational reconciliation resonate strongly amid the migration and displacement pressures surrounding Hong Kong in the early 1990s. Even now, more than a decade after the 1997 Handover, the film is a perennial favourite among returning Hong Kong emigrants and international cinema students.

This book examines how Hui challenges the myth of the original home as singular, familial and romantic, and constructs the second home as a new space for Hong Kong modernity. Yue also discusses the teaching of the film in the diaspora, demonstrating its potential as an affective and performative text of transcultural literacy and diasporic negotiations in the cross-cultural classroom.

Audrey Yue is senior lecturer in cinema and cultural studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

“With due emphases on diasporic intimacies, cine-feminism, and transcultural literacy, Audrey Yue has written a sensitive and lucid study, doing justice to a remarkable film by a remarkable director.” —Rey Chow, Duke University

“This book pushes the boundaries of existing studies on Hong Kong cinema studies. Yue provides us with innovative ways of reading intimacy in the diaspora: as nostalgia for the familiar or idealised; as cultural memories that make up diasporic archives; as modes of transformation of kinship structures; as affects produced through new media technologies. The book concludes with a self-reflexive exploration of teaching Song in Australia. By situating the film under the rubric of critical multiculturalism, Yue demonstrates how the teaching of postcolonial cinema can be sustained as a political pedagogy that resists the pluralist demands of a neoliberal curriculum. This is a carefully researched, rigorously analytical and intellectually profound study that will make its mark in the fields of diaspora, transcultural communication and cinema studies.” —Jacqueline Lo, ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

“Audrey Yue does a superb job of exploring Ann Hui’s semi-autobiographical mother-daughter narrative in relation to questions of ‘intimacy’ and ‘diaspora.’ This very productive approach highlights the borders that crisscross bodies, nations, cultures, histories, and memories. Going beyond the boundaries that separate the melodrama and the memoir, Yue carefully places the film within Hui’s oeuvre and highlights its critical contributions to the development of Hong Kong cinema as a global art form.” —Gina Marchetti, University of Hong Kong