Flowers for -- and tributes to -- Leslie Cheung
outside the Mandarin Oriental Hotel
on the 9th anniversary of his tragic death
He's a Woman, She's a Man posters on display at the
Hong Kong Cultural Centre as part of a tribute to
Director Peter Chan Ho Sun was on hand for a Q&A
session at the screening of He's a Woman, She's a Man
that I attended this afternoon -- and brought his daughter
and parents to watch the movie too! :)
Nine years ago today, Leslie Cheung Kwok Wing took his own life. This April 1st, his fans continue to remember him with great fondness and paid loving tributes to the charismatic singer-actor by doing such as going to, and placing flowers outside, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel -- from whose 24th floor he chose to jump to his death. Many of us also attended at least one of the two screenings of He's a Woman, She's a Man -- the Peter Chan Ho Sun-helmed romantic comedy in which Leslie Cheung played a man loved by two women -- on today as part of the 2012 Hong Kong International Film Festival.
This afternoon's viewing of He's a Woman, She's a Man was the second time I got to see that which is among one of my five, not just ten, favorite Hong Kong movies of all time on a big screen in Hong Kong. The first time was three years ago courtesy of Red Mission -- and even though the film was screened without English subtitles on that occasion, I treasure that viewing experience, not least because it was really wonderful to watch it in the company of many other appreciative fans of the superstar we refer to as Leslie (no need for a surname).
This second viewing really was super special though -- and not only because the version of the film that was screened had English subtitles and the screen and theater at Hong Kong City Hall was larger than the screen and theater where the movie was screened three years ago. Instead, it was because in the audience this afternoon was the director, Peter Chan Ho Sun, his young daughter and his parents -- and after the movie, Peter Chan answered questions from audience members at considerable length and in Cantonese, Putonghua and English.
A few years back, I had the privilege of interviewing Peter Chan (as part of the publicity push for his The Warlords). Due to such as his busy schedule, the interview ended up taking place over two separate days. And, memorably, after I switched off the tape recorder and concluded the official part of our meeting, he and I continued talking for a further one and half hours -- on a variety of topics, including others of his movies such as He's a Woman, She's a Man (which I was really glad to be able to tell him that I dearly loved).
At this afternoon's Q&A, Peter Chan was as open and sharing as I remembered that he was when I talked with him one on one those years ago. Some 10 questions were asked and he gave paragraphs worth of answers, not just single line or word responses, so I can't report everything he said. However, the following are some things he said that I found particularly memorable and interesting:-
- Up until today's screening of He's a Woman, She's a Man, his young daughter had never seen a movie from start to finish, only in 10 to 15 minute spells. She consented to go with him to watch this film of his after he told her that he thought she'd laugh a lot watching it, and also that she would be seeing a wonderful man (Leslie) in it.
- Peter Chan considers Leslie Cheung to have been the best ever actor he's worked with. Among other things, he was perfect in terms of such of remembering and delivering his lines, and remembering his cues. Leslie actually wasn't all that happy when Peter Chan complimented on this. He thought that there are far more important aspects of acting than those. Peter Chan's response was that, then, at least, you're the best actor for/to directors. Because these are aspects that directors consider super important.
- Peter Chan also considers Leslie Cheung to have been a "larger than life" person as well as actor. In terms of acting, maybe this may make it so that his acting and persona may come across as too exaggerated, over dramatic, etc. But sometimes, you need that -- and it makes for something special in a movie. In terms of personality, Peter Chan said that Leslie Cheung was the kind of person and actor who was better playing non-ordinary characters and people -- and that this was what made Leslie really suitable to play someone like He's a Woman, She's a Man's Sam Koo (a successful music producer loved by two woman, including the superstar singer he made famous (essayed by Carina Lau)).
- A fan from Japan told Peter Chan that she remembered reading an interview around the time that He's a Woman, She's a Man had become a big hit in her country in which he had talked about being disappointed that the movie's predominantly female fans were so attracted to the character Sam Koo. He replied that there might have been something lost in translation as he had actually said that he was "bewildered" by the female fans having been so attracted to the character of Sam Koo -- because he had modeled Sam Koo on himself along with Leslie!
- Rewatching He's a Woman, She's a Man today (after not having done so for some years now), he was shocked at how much of himself he actually had put into the character of Sam Koo. "Back then, I was younger and more naive", Peter Chan said. Among other things: he gave Sam Koo the same birthdate as his own. Also, he really had wanted to have separate residences from his girlfriend -- and actually did so in real life! Only, whereas in the movie, Sam Koo and Rose (Carina Lau's character) had apartments on different floors connected by a door in one's floor and another's ceiling, he and his real life girlfriend -- now wife -- Sandra Ng had had apartments on the same floor that were connected by a balcony -- with each side of the gate that connected their apartments having locks so that each could lock the other out if he or she so wanted!!
- Peter Chan also said that Leslie Cheung gave a lot of input when making the movie -- including for the character of Sam Koo. He specifically credited Leslie with coming up with the movie's touching final lines of "whether you're a boy or girl, it doesn't matter. I only know that I love you".
- A Mainland Chinese fan asked if Peter Chan had any plans to make a film that was a tribute to Leslie Cheung the way that Comrades, Almost a Love Story was a tribute to Teresa Teng. He said that he's thought about this but there are issues of such as copyright that will have to be dealt with in order to do so.
On a personal note, I'd love to see Peter Chan make such a movie. Still, regardless of whether he does, I have to say that I'm already grateful for his having directed and produced so many good and great movies as he already has done -- and yes, he is indeed one of the people who made me fall in love with Hong Kong cinema... and Hong Kong itself too.