|Judy Chu completed the SUNSHINE OF MY LIFE screenplay 4 years old, went looking for investors, kept telling her parents' story, overcoming the obstacles and turning into a release for her
|Judy Chu in her childhood has been around mostly vision impaired families so she did not feel odd
|In a scene Kara Wai goes to pick up daughter Karena Ng from school, but she chooses to go with her friends instead. Kara Wai is left feeling lost. Judy Chu says the scene brings back a lot of memories
|Judy Chu says after starting secondary school, she has thought about leaving her parents, growing up as quickly as possibly and starting her own life
|Judy Chu is pleased with all 3 actors, especially Kara Wai who despite the contact lens scratching her eye still insists on performing.
|Judy Chu says that her parents are optimistic and open. They would try to solve problems in their own ways. She despite being healthy would be lost and unhappy instead.
|Judy Chu has turned her parents' story into a play and a short film, in the feature film Hugo Goh and Kara Wai play the parents and Karena Ng plays the daughter
|WARRIORS OF FUTURE and FAR FAR AWAY drastically differ in scale and genre, but each has performed well
courtesy of mingpao.com
Opening today in Hong Kong, the new film SUNSHINE OF MY LIFE (YUT LO TUNG HUNG) was the director Judy Chu Fung Han's personal experience. The film told of the everyday life with vision impaired parents. Yet behind the happiness she once minded her parents, wanted to escape her family, cut ties with them and live the life that she thought would be free and normal. Until she planned to turn the script into the film, from knocking on doors to find investors she kept telling this true story of hers. Instead it helped her accept the reality and hence she got her release. Judy also learned to see things thoroughly from her parents, not to care too much about success and failure. Even if life is not perfect, getting 70 points she should the 70 points she gets.
SUNSHINE OF MY LIFE slowly evolved from the Judy created UNDERNOURISHED? Readers Theater and short film, it was also her feature film director debut. She invited Best Actress Kara Wai Ying Hung, Hugo Goh (Ng Toi Yung) and Karena Ng Chin Yu to perform; she said, "Many viewers after watching the 45 minute Readers Theater felt it was very interesting, some spots were absurd yet pretty funny. At the same time they felt my vision impaired parents had a lot of life force. They all agreed that they would like to know more, see more, which I didn't expect. Later I made it into a short film. At the time due to limited budget, I asked my parents to perform. Although it wasn't released on social media platforms, it participated in film festivals in Singapore and Canada. Viewers from different cultural backgrounds were very touched after watching it and felt proud of my parents. Because I received the recognition, I was motivated to write the movie about how I grew up."
Judy 4 years ago completed the scripts and went knocking on doors to find investors, but she was turned away. "Some immediately turned it down, saying that this was a minority film and not commercial enough; some said that they would think about it; but after half a year and they still haven't responded, I realized that they were turning it down indirectly." Someone suggested to apply for the First Feature Film Initiative financial assistance. Because she was not a film major student, she was unable to apply for the student group. She also lacked the qualification for the professional group, but she still did not give up and kept knocking on doors.
Then she ran into Mandarin Motion Pictures boss Raymond Wong Pak Ming and producer Ng Kin Hung, and received strong support from them. The next day she already received a message from the boss. "This movie has to be made". The film also received "Film Development Fund" assistance. I spent 1 year to hone and edit the script before the production began. "The boss didn't ask me to add many box office elements, only reminded me to tighten up the script. The actors had to be able to grasp the right tone after the table read, everyone had to come to an understanding to avoid any argument on the set in order for it to go into production; he wanted me to choose things from life that I had feelings for and put them in to make the theme stand out." Judy insisted on turning UNDERNOURISHED? into a movie, deeply believing that it would bring the audience positive energy, warmth or re-examine their relationship with their families.
Sister Hung in the film wore special contact lenses to play a vision impaired person. The lenses scratched her eyes but she had no complaint at all. She kept using eye drops to ease the discomfort and insisted on continuing. Judy said, "My parents weren't born blind, so I was very uneasy. Sister Hung at the time didn't give me any pressure or rushed to finish work earlier. Before taking her mark she hid in a corner to rest. I remember her using eyedrop like it was yesterday, I really are grateful to her for helping me so much."
Judy was very pleased with Sister Hung, Ng Toi Yung and Ng Chin Yu's performance, feeling that it was a super cast; in one scene Sister Hung went to the school to pick up her daughter Chin Yu, which brought her back to memories that she thought she has forgotten and had no feeling for. She got teary eyed. "Chin Yu struggled in a flash, chose to leave with her classmates, and ignored Sister Hung. Sister Hung's expression change showed that strong sense of loss."
Judy looked back at her childhood with the imperfect family but did not have self pity, instead she thought it was interesting. "Before ordering at a cafe, I would read the menu for them, described things around them for them. I didn't feel I was alternative at all, because my everyday social contacts were with vision impaired people's families and I played with their children."
Then in secondary school, the entire world started to change. She was able to go to school on her own, had a greater degree of freedom, and her contact circle also expanded. She then hid her own family background and mixed in with other students. "I want to have friends, I was afraid that when people found out they would not know what to think of me; actually once on parents' day, when my classmates saw my Mommy they looked very surprised. The next day they didn't speak to me. After that, I realized that not everyone was able to accept that. So I wanted to hide even more, I became rebellious, wanted to leave this burden. I longed to get my adult identification card at age 18, draw the line with my parents and start my own life. In the end I realized that it means nothing at all, because I came from a vision impaired family, what I see and my values are deeply rooted."
In comparison, despite their imperfect bodies her parents were optimistic and open. Feeling that they could not change the facts, they had to adjust their state of mind and tried to use their own ways to face difficulties. They would not need to fight what would not be theirs; anything that belonged to them, as long as they worked hard and did their best they were fine. "I haven't reached my parents' levels. I am very healthy, but sometimes I would be unhappy and lost. Mommy instead would use another angle to comfort me, she is much better than I am. Many people after watching the movie say I am amazing, actually my parents are. So at first I wanted to write about them, because they did not have self-pity they were able to keep going. Otherwise who knows how many times they would have died."
When Judy created the screenplay at first, she once worried about further trauma from the conventional view. Actually she has not been looked down upon, thought of as strange, she was even able to give others positive energy. "Some people's lives are even more difficult than ours, but they still can grind their teeth and tough them out. I mustered up the courage to take the first step just from taking the script, knocking on doors to find funding, and telling the bosses that this is my true story. Instead this movie helped me to recognize this family. The more I talked about it I gradually accepted it, getting over the obstacle that I gave myself and I was much more honest and comfortable."
Judy from her parents learned to see things thoroughly, not to focus wins or losses, and not to use the conventional standard to see her own others' success or failure. She admitted that she cherished even more what she had currently, even if it is imperfect. If it is 70 points then cherish the 70 points that you have. Even though she has not reached 100 points and perfection, she can use the view of properly cherishing it to appreciate it.
From July to September this year many Hong Kong films have performed decently, from the HK$ 450 million big science fiction production WARRIORS OF FUTURE (MING YUT JIN GEI) to the HK$ 2.7 million low budget FAR FAR AWAY (LUEN LO SHAN KA LA) they have become hits. As for September 13th, the Louis Koo Tin Lok starred and produced film WARRIORS OF FUTURE has made over 56 million to become the 9th highest grossing Chinese film in Hong Kong. MIRROR member Edan Lui Cheuk On, Sandra Ng Kwan Yu and Ronald Cheng Chung Kei starred CHILLI LAUGH STORY (HOP GA LAT) has made 32 million; Lui Cheuk On's MIRROR group mates Keung To and Jer Lau Ying Ting's big screen debut MAMA'S AFFAIR (AH MA YAU JOR DAI YI GOR) also has made over 35 million. FAR FAR AWAY opened to only 110,000, but with word of mouth and extended run it accumulated 9.5 million and would have a chance to pass the 10 million mark. After 6 weeks it remains at the movies. The September 7th release TABLE FOR SIX (FAN HEI GUNG SUM) starred Dayo Wong Tze Wa, Stephy Tang Lai Yan, Ivana Wong Yuen Chi and others. It opened with over 1.58 million, as of two days ago (the 13th) it accumulated over 18.7 million.
Who knows whether SUNSHINE OF MY LIFE would continue the aforementioned Hong Kong films' momentum and attract an audience to the movies.