>Nothing in Hong Kong is permanent. There is no historic preservation. Buildings come and go and the past is quickly obliterated in the face of progress. Instead, popular culture and celebrity reign.
So it made big news here when a block of residential apartment buildings was saved from destruction. Wing Lee Street buildings represent construction prior to 1955 in the tong lau style with with tall ceiling, large windows, and air vents between buildings to provide lighting and air flow in the staircase. Housing pressures and rising land prices were going to lead to the replacement of most of the buildings on Wing Lee Street with a government estate–high rise housing at subsidized rates. The people who live on the block were split over the decision, some wanting new, estate apartments.
So what caused this unusual decision by the Town Planning Board? The street was recently used as a film set for the film, “Echoes of the Rainbow,” which won an award at the Berlin Film Festival last month.
So….is the street and the past being preserved, or is a movie set being preserved? The newspaper headlines read: Epic has a happy ending–for some. But is the “epic” the story of Hong Kong, or the story that takes place in the film?
I went to see the film. It was not much of an epic.