In the Memory of Wong Ain-ling

Spring has barely passed when winter returns. It has been a year since Wong Ain-ling left us. What she had written about films, and researched on films remain vivid remembrances for a love of cinema forever fresh. We hope that this selection of ten films much cherished by Ain-ling will be a reunion of some of cinema’s finest gems, and her exquisite narratives on them.

“The lights and shadows of cinema may be splendidly tempting. But none compares to this enigma of an orchid ever fragrant in my heart,” Ain-ling once wrote this about Spring in a Small Town (1948) in her book about the poet director Fei Mu.

Ain-ling’s words on films were every syllable as fragile and vulnerable as every frame of the films she was writing about: remember The Marquise of O (1976), Floating Weeds (1959), A Day in the Country (1936), and Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931).

She had this eye for obscure works off the beaten track of mainstay arthouse cinema. Ain-ling paid tribute to Lester James Peries with a retrospective at the HKIFF decades before he was “rediscovered”. She admired Glory to Eternity (1943) for its courage to be, and shrewdly recognised Jia Zhangke’s talent way back when Xiao Wu debuted in 1997.

Her love of the quiet abundances of life resonated in her fondness for The House in the Woods (1971), and of course, Abbas Kiarostami’s works and the Iranian Cinema.

Ain-ling liked to compare cinema to dreams. May her lyrical words bring us once more into the sweet dreams of cinema.