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Wednesday, November 30, 2016, 00:04

Film director stresses importance of studying HK history

By Willa Wu and Honey Tsang
Film director stresses importance of studying HK history
Liu Shen, director of Hong Kong: War and Peace , poses with a poster of the documentary on Tuesday. (Roy Liu / China Daily )

HONG KONG - Ignorance of their history would deprive Hong Kong youth of a well-rounded education - leading them to make “irrational decisions”, mainland film director Liu Shen said.

He made the comments at the premiere screening of his new history documentary in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

Liu, a former journalist based in Shenzhen, spent more than two years filming the documentary entitled Hong Kong: War and Peace . It details the brutal Japanese occupation of Hong Kong from late 1941 until 1945. The three-year-and-eight-month history of Hong Kong is powerfully portrayed with war-time footage and interviews with those who lived through it.

The documentary, said Liu, could help to fill a gap in the history education of many Hong Kong people.

Liu noted the indifference of some Hong Kong young people in acknowledging their Chinese identity and bonding with the motherland. This was partly due to inadequate history education in Hong Kong. He said the city’s reunification with the motherland also meant a shared history between the city and the nation.

The full version of the documentary lasts for more than five hours. The one shown at a private screening on Tuesday was reduced to two and half hours.

The powerful and very moving film footage includes a massacre, rapes, starvation and even cannibalism – which the Japanese invasion reduced some starving Hong Kong residents to. The documentary sheds new light on one of the darkest periods in Hong Kong history.

Liu said he appreciated the terrible things many people experienced when he interviewed war veterans. “I was shocked and saddened to hear their brutal experiences, but awed by these heroes, seeing how unruffled they were when they reminisced,” Liu said.

Lo King-fei, a former veteran from the Dongjiang column of the Guangdong people's anti-Japanese guerrilla force, who fought for the defense of Hong Kong, attended Tuesday’s screening. Aged 86, he said the film presented the period in a vivid and factual manner.

Lo was born in Hong Kong and joined the guerrilla force in 1943 as a signaler. He said the city should improve its history education in order to promote a better understanding.

“All I want to do is to get this course of history correct,” said Bill Lake, a British war veteran who was a gunner in Hong Kong against the Japanese occupation, who is also featured in Liu’s documentary. “I’m just stating what happened.”

Lake told China Daily that information in local history textbooks about the Japanese occupation is “brief” and not “detailed enough”.

By boosting the understanding of what had happened, young people could learn from history. They could also become more grateful that they live in a period of peace and in a safe city.

Liu admitted it would require a lot of extra effort, but he hopes the film could enter cinemas and video websites to reach more local people.
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