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The Posterist: A tribute to the man behind the classic poster images

MEET THE AUDIENCE | 20/04/2017

The godfather of film-poster artists, Yuen Tai-yung, received a well-deserved Professional Spirit Award in this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards. By coincidence, director Hui See-wai's The Posterist, which pays tribute to this legendary film-poster illustrator, was also screened at the HKIFF on 18 April at the Hong Kong Arts Centre, giving audiences an opportunity to revisit his iconic film posters and learn more about his unmistakable style.  


Hui (son of filmmaker Michael Hui) said he initially intended only to share this documentary with his family. He was surprised and overwhelmed to see his film screened in a cinema, let alone be selected as part of the HKIFF.


Hui recalled his return to Hong Kong two years ago, when he discovered a lot of film posters from the 1970s and ’80s in the family storeroom. "These posters looked gorgeous, but had long been forgotten,” he said. “It was then I began my search for Yuen."


Hui spent two years tracking down Yuen, and designed his film to follow this journey to let audiences get to know Yuen as he did. Much happened along the way, and new contents added include Yuen's 50-year commemorative exhibition and his Hong Kong Film Award. "This is what makes documentary filming interesting," Hui added. "You never know what will happen tomorrow."

Director Hui See-wai

Asked about his most memorable experience, Hui said, "Yuen refused to draw in front of the camera in the beginning. But as we understood each other better, he was willing to draw before my eyes. Over two hours, I had the privilege to see his creative process, from sketching and coloring to drying and adding his autograph. It was an inspiring experience." 


Yuen mentioned that he made illustrations mainly to earn a living, and he seldom drew anything after work. He did have a number of non-job-related creative works, though they may sound contradictory. "Many people of that generation focused on one expertise in life,” Hui explained. “Yuen put his full mind into drawing, and wasn't even aware that he’d already become a master of poster images. He just thought about earning the bread for his family. This was how people at that time looked at their profession. It makes me contemplate."



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