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Documenting Sentiments in Video Diaries around 1997: Archaeology of Forgotten Screen Practices

Linda Chiu-han Lai (2015): "Documenting Sentiments in Video Diaries around 1997: Archaeology of Forgotten Screen Practices" in A Companion to Hong Kong Cinema; ed. Esther Cheung, Gina Marchetti and Esther Yau. Wiley-Blackwell, August, 2015.

**The research of this essay was fully supported by a grant from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (Project No. CityU 11404614 "Where Else to Look," an interim output in the form of a single case study of an event on the collective use of personal video diaries.

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KEYWORD SUMMARY: Experimental cinema / History of everyday life / Agency of de-politicization / Alternative screen practices / 1997 diaries / Personal documentary / Diary film / Image narratives as temporal thought paths and event structure / “Phenomenon” as pictures of mind and thoughtfulness of an individual / Performative sentiments


This chapter discusses five video-diaries about the intense moments of the handover of Hong Kong in 1997 and what happened in the everyday domain in the months immediately before and after. It argues for a more wholesome view of Hong Kong moving-image practices one that breaks away from the binary divide of mainstream versus independent cinema to recover works of rich and varied screen practices “erased” from the historical knowledge of local culture simply because they are only available outside commercial movie houses. Drawing from phenomenological thinking, it turns a familiar narrative analysis into the study of “thought paths” and “eventstructure.” The diary film remains the hotbed of experimental thinking, worthy of a place in local film history and local history in general. The chapter demonstrates how sentiments articulated in structured personal video diaries can be understood as narrative forms for examination.

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