Transcending Space and Time – Early Cinematic Experience of Hong Kong
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Going back a century, Chuang Tzu Tests His Wife (1914) was shown in Hong Kong. It is believed to be the first short film made by Hong Konger Lai Man-wai as the lead. 

American Benjamin Brodsky was the key behind this groundbreaking effort. In 1913, through his good friend Lo Wing-cheung, Lai Man-wai acquainted with this businessman and film projectionist, who opened Variety Film Exchange Company, the first film company in Hong Kong. Since 1914, Variety Film Exchange produced documentaries The Sport of Kings (1914) and A Trip Through China (1917). At the same time, with Brodsky’s investment, Lai wrote Chuang Tzu Tests His Wife, with Lai cross-dressed to play the wife of Chuang Tzu.

Their collaboration hence brought Hong Kong into the history of cinema, along with their friends and family, such as Lai Buk-hoi, Yan Shanshan, Lo Wing-cheung and so on.

Lai founded China Sun Motion Picture Company in 1923 and made the first narrative feature film Rouge (1925) in Hong Kong. China Sun moved to Shanghai in December 1925 and had a new director Hou Yao joined in 1926. Hou Yao was the first generation Chinese director and later moved to Hong Kong. He wrote and directed many films in both cities. He was a prolific and important director in the early Hong Kong film history.

Benjamin Brodsky, Lai Man-wai and Hou Yao came across on each other’s path and helped to lay the foundation of Hong Kong cinema. 100 years later today, their stories are still touching our hearts.


  • Lai Man-wai

  • Benjamin Brodsky

  • Hou Yao


  • Pioneer Filmmakers