News from the Locarno Festival

Johnnie To

Johnnie To



You are one of the most legendary names in Hong Kong action cinema and, over the years, you have become a reference point for the international film industry. Do you think you have developed great genre movies which have also been able to analyse the black heart of your country?
Of course there is a huge difference between the night life represented in my movies and the Hong Kong reality, some aspects had been emphasized and romanticized. But it is also clear that the Triad – the chinese Mafia – represents a distinctive cultural benchmark of our cinematography. It is part of our movie atmosphere, exactly like kung fu.

Hong Kong always represented a window between the East and the West, with its peculiar cinematography. How do you explain the continuous flowering of new generations of directors who still reinvent their own tradition?
Cinema is an art which leads the director to tell his opinion about reality. I am happy to know that there are so many Hong Kong filmmakers that start to shoot features, but it is also important that they could do a research about contemporary society in order to share their own opinion with the audience.

In 1996, with Wai Ka-Fai, you established not only a film production company – the Milkyway Image – but something more important, since a “Milkyway-style” was born. Have you had problems to alternate your work as director with the role of producer?
Not really. On the one hand I certainly want to continue shooting films and being a director, but on the other hand I also think it is important to help our young talents to find their way. I hope to play this double role for a long time and, at the same time, my objective is still to direct one movie a year or, at least, every two years!

Talking about the enthusiastic acclaims you have received in Europe… Have they influenced your way to make and think about cinema?
No, I have never been influenced by feedbacks, I simply continue to make the movies I like at most. In the current movie industry, however, it is also important to consider the many aspects involved in the production, and marketing is one of them. My movies are pretty commercial but I also have much interest in influencing our young filmmakers.

Your last production Motorway, directed by Soi Cheang, will be screened in the Piazza Grande (Locarno) in front of thousands. Could you present us this movie?
This is my second collaboration with Soi Cheang. He is a young director who has worked pretty well and learned a lot in the last years. I hope that tonight the enthusiasm of the Piazza Grande audience could be an encouragement to him on his his way to success.

Mattia Bertoldi

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