Cici Wu, Unfinished Return Of Yu Man Hon, 2019
Unfinished Return of Yu Man Hon is a film that possesses a delicate quality at odds with the robust nature of the story being told. There is a dreamlike quality to the film, and the way viewers contend with the residual impact of the piece is akin to recalling details of unresolved narratives after waking from sleep. Lingering hauntingly in the viewer's mind, Unfinished Return of Yu Man Hon revolves around a young boy with autism who vanished after the handover of Hong Kong from the British to Chinese governance. Inspired by the true-life events of Yu Man-hon, who vanished after crossing the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border in 2000, Wu's film reimagines his return as an enlightened spirit. We follow the apparition as he revisits the material world, recovering lost memories associated with his own disappearance. Wu uses film as a medium and its mode of address - as both a thing in the world and a depiction of a thing - to explore the interstice of what is real and what is imagined. Combining meticulous research into the real life, perplexing vanishing of Yu Man-Hon and the physical detritus of movie industry sets, presented in front of the screen, Wu questions the interplay between what is real and what is a dream. The work thereby prompts reflection on the proximity of cinematic imagination to historical events and challenges our discernment of facts amid a contemporary landscape dominated by superficial and inaccurately reported information.
Navigating the city's pedestrian spaces, Wu's camera moves through locales imbibed with Man-hon's emotional significance. We see multiple locations and moments saturated in pathos - a beloved restaurant, a bus depot, a bustling supermarket among many others. The film encourages a reversal of the normative interpretations of Man-hon as a symbol of loss. Instead, it encourages viewers to see beyond the idea that he is a mere ghost to instead perceive his image as that of an enlightened being. Through this deliberate shift in perspective, Wu delves into the precarious and fragile nature of our emotions and memories, prompting a re-evaluation of how we comprehend film’s temporal and experiential similarities with dreams in their attempt to capture and make sense of reality.
Written, directed, edited and cinematography by Cici Wu
Starred by Jonathan Chang (Chang Yang Yang)
Soundtrack by Victor Au
Percussion by Terence Chan
Gaffer by Richard Li
Props by Jinno Neko and Cici Wu
Archival Footage: Chin Family Home Video c.1944, from Marcella Dear Collection, Museum of Chinese in America, New York
Special Thanks: Lai Wai Ling (Mrs.Yu), and the Props Department of Hong Kong Clear Water Bay Film Studio.
|16mm film transferred to single-channel digital video (colour, sound) film prop lamp, paper, bamboo wire, glue
|19 minutes 17 seconds