Secrets and Lies

2:30 pm
M+ Cinema

An Asian Ghost Story

Bo Wang
37 min

The Nameless

Ho Tzu Nyen
21 min

Tree of Malevolence

Lee Kai Chung

Brimming with mystery and intrigue, this screening brings together three speculative essay-films by contemporary artists Bo Wang, Ho Tzu Nyen, and Lee Kai Chung. Anchored by extensive research into Asia’s unresolved Cold War histories, these enigmatic films use found footage to navigate the slippery relationship between Hong Kong and its neighbouring regions in the mid-twentieth century. Haunted by ghosts of the past, each film blurs fact and fiction to unveil the complexities of Hong Kong's cultural identity, its role as a cultural and economic mediator, and its inextricable connection to its wider Asian context.

Bo Wang’s An Asian Ghost Story (2023) centres on the obscure history of the Hong Kong wig industry, specifically the impact of a 1965 United States trade embargo against China’s hair industry known as the Communist Hair Ban. The work also offers a meta-commentary on Hong Kong film history, using 1980s Cantonese-language ghost films as a lens to explore the spectre of Asian modernisation. 

The Nameless (2015) by Ho Tzu Nyen revolves around the life of Lai Teck, a Sino-Vietnamese man who is known to have assumed more than 50 identities—one of them being the Secretary General of the Malayan Communist Party from 1939 to 1947, until he was killed in Thailand after being exposed as a triple agent. Using found footage of Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Ho’s film explores the shapeshifting identities that underpin nations and ideologies.

Lastly, Lee Kai Chung’s Tree of Malevolence (2024) is a cryptic six-part film that intricately weaves together personal anecdotes, oral histories, documentary research, and fictional storytelling, to explore the unstable identities and shared destinies of mainland China and Hong Kong. The film explores the multiple lives and aliases of ‘Y’, a counterintelligence agent operating between Hong Kong and Guangzhou during the Cold War.

The screening will be followed by a talk with Bo Wang and Lee Kai Chung via video call, moderated by M+ Curator of Moving Image, Ulanda Blair. The talk will be held in English.

An Asian Ghost Story | Bo Wang. An Asian Ghost Story, 2023. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

The Nameless | Ho Tzu Nyen. The Nameless, 2015. Single-channel digital video installation (colour, sound), duration: 21 min. 15 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © Ho Tsz Nyen.

Tree of Malevolence | Lee Kai Chung. Tree of Malevolence, 2024. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.