LITTLE BIG MASTER
Directed by Adrian Kwan
Best Family Film, 2015 Niagara Integrated Film Festival
Official Selection, 2015 New York Asian Film Festival
Disillusioned by the nepotism of her last job as headmistress of an elite school, Lui Wai-hung takes on a position nobody else in Hong Kong would even care to apply for: principal of a remote village elementary school with only five students remaining. If enrollment drops below five, the school would be forced to close. It’s a challenge tailor-made for a principled principal: either transfer all five students to better schools, or save the existing school by recruiting another student before one of the current five graduates.
Played by Miriam Yeung (Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2, SDAFF ’14), Headmaster Lui leads the charge with pep and resourcefulness, renovating the classroom and chasing away the cloud that hangs over the heads of five adorable kids. By no means subtle, yet diligently honest on the difficult matter of the Hong Kong underclass, LITTLE BIG MASTER suffuses earnestness with a wide smile and a song because that’s what it’s going to take to soften the parents, neighbors, and officials who have long given up on the chance their children can escape the hand they’ve been given.
While the rest of Hong Kong is obsessed with global capital, LITTLE BIG MASTER is a touching portrait of a neglected transnationalism: a multiethnic Hong Kong built on immigrant labor and separated by borders. What will happen to Hong Kong must also be how it chooses to take care of its forgotten children, for whom LITTLE BIG MASTER shines a radiant way forward. –Brian Hu