Gregory Wong Chung-yiu (王宗堯) has become a familiar face in Hong Kong since 2014 following his debut in HKTV’s political drama television series “The Election”, which began airing at the height of the pro-democracy protests in the city that year.
On the evening of Nov. 30, 2014, Wong put on a helmet and protective goggles and stood shoulder to shoulder with students at Lung Wo Road as conflicts escalated between protesters and the police.
Asked why he joined the demonstrators, Wong said he wanted to show his solidarity as he is also a Hongkonger.
Cut back to the present, Wong is making news for a different reason.
The 37-year-old actor will appear in a much-talked about film that will be screened during the 40th Hong Kong International Film Festival that will kick off in the city next week.
The film is The Mobfathers (選老頂), a satirical production that seeks to mirror local politics through the setting of triad society.
In the film, Wong and co-star Chapman To (杜汶澤) are willing to go to any lengths to be the next chief of a gangster group.
The intention of the film is obvious, so does the political standpoint of the starring actors.
No wonder it has been dubbed as a movie of the “yellow ribboners”, in reference to the pro-democracy protesters who wore yellow ribbons during the 2014 Umbrella Movement.
Wong doesn’t mind the reference.
“Hong Kong used to be a place of political apathy in the past. However, now it is impossible to evade politics as it has penetrated every aspect of our lives,” he says.
He also feels that Hong Kong movie makers have been overly concerned about box-office ticket sales in the mainland China market.
Is the market so big that people can put aside or even let go of their conscience, Wong says.
He believes that artists shoulder big social responsibility, and that they should voice their views openly on critical issues in society.
He admitted that if one goes into some sensitive topics, the person can expect some obstacles and the loss of some audience.
“Hong Kong is quite a strange place where there’s always an invisible boss over a boss, yielding a sense of dependence on others,” Wong says.
“People are afraid of offending someone or the other, and hence opt to stay quiet on some issues.”
Some people have advised Wong to lie low to avoid the ire of authorities, but the actor says he will continue to participate in social movements which fight for the right causes.
Asked about his views on Hong Kong’s future, Wong says he is optimistic.
“Though we have worked very hard already, we need to do a little bit more. If we give up at this moment, it will definitely be a waste of efforts,” he says.
“I hope that everyone can hang in there for a way out.”
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 16.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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