Interview Yan Yan Mak, Grasshoppers and Softhard from Hong Kong

Calvin Choy, Yan Yan Mak, Edmond So, Eric Kot

Article by Michelle Xia
Photo by Niko

From June 28 through July 15, Lincoln Center, a platform for all different cultural directors and filmmakers to share their voice through various forms of performing arts, will be hosting their 11th annual New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF). This film festival features works from various talented Asian producers, celebrating the extraordinary culture outside of America.

Grasshoppers, Yan Yan Mak and Softhard from Hong Kong

Ranging from a documentary about a Beijing cop to a romantic comedy about a Korean couple, NYAFF encompasses all types of Asian culture and genre. One film in particular has gotten a lot of musical attention. Yan Yan Mak, an award-winning Hong Kong director, presents “The Great War”. This documentary explores the journey of the famous Hong Kong Cantopop boy band, Grasshoppers (草蜢), and a Cantonese rapper duet, Softhard. “The Great War” includes behind the scene footage of before and after concerts, which allows the audience to see these beloved artists in another light. Yan Yan Mak did a spectacular job showcasing the importance of audience and pop culture through this film.

Yan Yan Mak

As successful as Yan Yan Mak is today through her pieces like “The Great War”, not many know that being a film director was never her first plan. When Mak was young, she studied anthropology abroad in Canada. Without any idea futuristic plan, she majored in anthropology for her love of the subject. Yan Yan Mak realized when she returned to Hong Kong that it’s difficult to find a career within that field. Forced to switch her career plans, she went back to college in Hong Kong (Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts) to study film. She first produced short films and made small productions because they were her courses’ requirements. Through her assignments, her love for film flourished.

“Film is everything,” she explains. It incorporates many elements that she enjoy like psychology, music, sociology, and even, anthropology.

After Mak obtained her college degree in film, she started as a continuity girl who was called to deliver coffee and help out wherever the director needs it. A combination of luck and past film related experiences; she took a leap from the lowest rank job in a film to a director with her first film “GeGe” (Brother), which was immediately recognized by the public. From there, she continues to direct and produce more films.

“Every time I say I quit, she finds herself not quitting,” Mak proclaims as she explains some of the difficult situations she faced with her film career. However, her passion and genuine interest in the film industry made it hard for her to leave. “I am cursed to so many things – film is one of them.”

As her film becomes recognized overseas, Mak is thrilled to show her Hong Kong culture to a new diverse audience. A story about brotherhood and friendship, “The Great War” draws attention from their American diehard fans and captures new fans by bringing them along to their story on and off stage.

Grasshoppers (Edmond So, Calvin Choy)

“The Great War” was shown on July 2 and 3 with a great audience turn out. Yan Yan Mak plans on making more films in the future. Hosted by Lincoln Center, NYCAFF is able to continually recognize talented film directors like Yan Yan Mak from Asian countries and become the gateway for an international viewing.

Softhard (Eric Kot)

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