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Upclose with Heiward Mak
Heiward Mak is the latest film talent to be hand-picked by veteran actor and producer Eric Tsang. The 23-year-old writer and director of “High Noon” talks to June Ng about youth culture and her debut feature film.

By June Ng | Nov 20, 2008

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  • Upclose with Heiward Mak

HK Magazine: What are you trying to say with this film?
Heiward Mak:
I want to give today’s teenagers a voice. The movie is about self-discovery and self-recovery. When we’re young we do things that we regret, but the trauma heals in the process of growing up. The film tackles lots of teenage problems. I want to show people that in such a chaotic world, the most important thing is to learn how to communicate with the people around you.

HK: What is youth to you?
HM:
Youth is something that only makes itself known to you once you feel it start to fade away. I was really touched after a screening in Canada, when an old lady came up and grabbed my hand, saying that even though she didn’t understand the language, she could feel the spirit of the film. I could feel the wrinkles on her arms. It was an emotional moment.

HK: “High Noon” is classified as a Category III movie. Isn’t it a shame that you made a movie about teens, but they’re barred from seeing it?
HM:
I just have a big “why?” in my head. At first, we thought if we cut out all the swearing, it wouldn’t be classified as Category III. But the main reason the authority gave us for their decision was that there are scenes where students have sex and there’s even a death—but it’s no more explicit than any other movie in the theater right now; Category II movies show sex and violence all the time anyway. The ridiculous thing is there’s no actual nudity or anything excessively violent in the movie. We are merely reflecting reality.

HK: Some people say that there’s no space for art house movies in Hong Kong.
HM:
That’s just what the big movie houses say. If a film doesn’t have pop stars or if it’s low budget, it’s just written off as an art movie and they’d only screen it in the Art Centre. The general audience seldom has access to alternative films. But a film being “arty” doesn’t necessarily mean that people can’t understand it. Many new directors are trying to make a change and provide more choices to Hong Kong audiences.

HK: There’s a conversation among the teenagers in the movie, who ask one another where they think they will be in five years. What did you think you would be doing now five years ago, and where do you see yourself in five years?
HM:
I was dying to become a children’s book author because I really love drawing. Five years from now I hope to get married—just kidding. Getting married is not my top priority. Career-wise, I want to keep doing creative stuff; it doesn’t matter in what form. Creativity is about saying something. I hope I will have something to say then.

Check out our movie review of High Noon

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