Mid Autumn Festival is just a few days away (Monday September 8th). For those who may not know much about the festival, you can think of it like Thanksgiving in the U.S. It is a time for family to gather and have a meal, stay up late, watch some TV specials (or a movie), brave the crowded parks (if you dare) and gaze up at the moon.
As with any holiday there are traditional things that most families do. One such task, if you have kids, is to buy them a cheaply made toy lantern that light up and screeches out an overly annoying midi rendition of some popular tune. This year our little one was gifted a Hello Kitty variant…or should I say Kitty White.
Other pastimes include the eating of mooncakes [月餅], which by now have been on sale for months. This is akin to how some shops in the west start selling Christmas stuff well before Halloween has even arrived. This year, the family has decided to forego buying any mooncakes. My mother in-law is the only one who likes the traditional kind. In the past my wife and I have purchased a variety of the more contemporary ‘bing-pei’ [冰皮月餅] flavors. But year after year we’ve found that we end up not eating a majority of them, because despite the various fruit and cheesecake iterations, they all still taste like bean paste.
One of my own personal habits (with just about any holiday) is to screen some relevant movies or TV shows. One of the Mid Autumn themed movies I will recommend here is He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Father [新難兄難弟] (1993). This is a classic bit of nostalgic cinema featuring both of the Tony Leungs on screen together as father and son. The plot follows a bit of a Back to the Future arc, but centered on Mid Autumn Festival rather than a flux capacitor. I’d put a trailer up, but in fact I could not find one on YouTube (but you can in fact find the whole movie uploaded there, not that I am advocating people to watch it there…even though it is out of print >_<).
For those who happen to be in Hong Kong there will actually be an outdoor screening of the film on Monday evening. This is taking place in Sheung Wan (on Hong Kong island), which is a far cry from our home in the New Territories. And given the number of folks that will be out and about, and the ways that the transport networks tend to get bogged down during holidays, it is doubtful that we will make it to the screening, preferring instead to watch the film on DVD from the comfort of my air conditioned living room.
Another film I will throw out there (and I have mentioned this one before) is My Sweetie [甜絲絲] (2004). For all intents and purposes this is a silly local comedy starring Sammi, Stephy and Mrs. Leon Lai Gaile Lok. A key part of the plot involves the two main leads having a family dinner together for Mid-Autumn Festival.
It’s cheap silly fluff, and to be honest I am pretty sure I am the only one out of the LoveHKFilm group that likes this film. As Kozo puts it, “If My Sweetie has a positive, it’s this: it’s so uninteresting that it doesn’t register as insultingly terrible…”. Still it is a holiday, so what’s wrong with a little fluff. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival folks.
UPDATE: Kevin Ma has also reminded me on Twitter that Ann Hui’s film The Way We Are [天水圍的日與夜] (2008) also takes place around the Mid Autumn holiday, and if memory serves Clara Law’s Autumn Moon [秋月] ends on a Mid Autumn Festival celebration. Both are excellent films, but are more on the heavy side of things for my taste. Still, they are excellent recommendations for anyone looking for some cinema relevant to the holiday.