The centrepiece feature of this year’s Reel Asian Film Festival is the Hong Kong horror anthology film Tales from the Dark Part 1, which consists of three stories about ghosts seeking retribution. One of the three segments is entitled Stolen Goods and is the directorial debut for internationally acclaimed Hong Kong actor Simon Yam, who also stars in the segment. Yam has starred in over 170 films over the course of his career, which includes roles in the films Election (2005), S.P.L. (2005), IP Man (2008), and Man of Tai Chi (2013). In 2010, Yam won Best Actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards for his role in the film Echoes of the Rainbow.
In describing why he picked a ghost movie for his directorial debut, Yam said that they give him a lot of space to think. He also said that ghost movies are one of the three types of iconic movies in Hong Kong, along with gangster and police films. Yam stated that he wanted to make a ghost movie that was very local to Hong Kong, with a human touch to it. In preparation for the film, Yam would describe waking up at 2am and walking in his garden, in order to get into the atmosphere of the story. While on set, Yam would encourage his actors to just feel the atmosphere and act naturally, to the point that nobody was given the script. Yam’s segment of Tales from the Dark Part 1 was filmed in only eight days, which ended up being just enough time for him, even though he had asked the producers for another two days and was refused. Yam described the message of Stolen Goods as being about cherishing the time people have with each other. Yam also states that he was heavily inspired by the Hong Kong society of today and how the poor people and rich people interact. In fact, the ghost is only a package to tell a story about how difficult it is for the poor to survive in today’s Hong Kong. In doing the research for this story, Yam sought to reach out to the people living with limited means in today’s Hong Kong, because he was once poor himself. Through this experience, he was able to get to know these people more and it made for a good film, in which people can see what is happening. TALES FROM THE DARK PART 1 screens 8:00pm tonight at the Royal Cinema, with Simon Yam in attendance for an intro and Q&A.