EVENT RESCHEDULED: Mock Job Talk by Chunchun Ting, “The “Besieged City” – Ann Hui’s Cinematic Portraits of the Homely and the Unhomely” January 25

This event has been rescheduled for January 25:

Chunchun Ting, PhD Candidate in EALC

The “Besieged City” – Ann Hui’s Cinematic Portraits of the Homely and the Unhomely


This paper focuses on the “besieged city” of Tin Shui Wai, a remote new town in Hong Kong made infamous by its shocking number of family murder and suicide cases. In both its generic urban form and unique social tragedy, Tin Shui Wai is representative of the working class suburban towns expanding at the periphery of many cities. My study pursues two lines of inquiry. The first one examines family dysfunction in a bedroom community like Tin Shui Wai to consider the relation between the actual space of the home and its urban setting. My second question is specifically about media representation of the disadvantaged and dispossessed. As Tin Shui Wai’s heightened media exposure raised public sympathy and provoked social discrimination, its case questions the relationship between visibility and empowerment, and interrogates the claim of Hong Kong as a collective home by drawing attention to its internal exclusion. I look at Hong Kong director Ann Hui’s two films on this neighborhood – The Way We Are (2008) and Night and Fog (2009) – to explore these two sets of questions. I contrast the homely portrait of a single-parent household in The Way We Are with the attempt to capture a sense of uncanny in Night and Fog. While the former attests to the resilience and agency of ordinary people in reshaping their environment and community, the latter reveals Tin Shui Wai’s built environment as a misleading urban façade concealing a diametrically opposed social reality. As the two films follow the movement from the homely to the unhomely, they form an important whole that provides fresh insights into Tin Shui Wai and the contemporary world, by leading their viewers to look at individual lives in this ill-famed neighborhood, and to reflect on a more general human condition that far exceeds the boundary of the “besieged city.”

Ting’s talk will be held on Friday, January 25 from 3:00-5:00, in Judd Hall, room 313.

This workshop is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in the Humanities. Persons who believe they may need assistance to participate fully, please contact the coordinator (Joshua Solomon) in advance at: joshua.lee.solomon@gmail.com