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Written By

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Written By

Sponsored by: Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office (Canada)

Montreal Premiere

  • Hong Kong 2009
  • 89 min
  • 35mm
  • Cantonese with English subtitles
WINNER: Best Screenplay, Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards 2010
Opening Film, New York Asian Film Festival 2009
Official Selection, Vancouver International Film Festival 2009


Sci-Fi / FantasyDramaCrime / Thriller

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Director: Wai Ka-Fai
Screenplay: Wai Ka-Fai, Au Kin-Yee
Cast: Lau Ching-Wan, Kelly Lin, Mia Yam
Producers: Wai Ka-Fai
Print Source: China Star



One of the most fascinating and unusual talents in Hong Kong, writer-director Wai Ka-Fai is too often cast—unfairly—as Robin to Johnnie To’s Batman. It’s understandable to a point, with the two men collaborating on a very regular basis and To taking most of the limelight. But think for a moment. Without Wai Ka-Fai, would Johnnie To have ever been involved in a film about a paranoid schizophrenic former cop who solves crimes with help from the voices in his head? Without Wai Ka-Fai, would Johnnie To ever have gotten involved in a film about a bodybuilding monk turned male stripper cursed with the ability to see karma? Johnnie To alone, not a chance. Johnnie with Wai Ka-Fai, the films in question are MAD DETECTIVE and RUNNING ON KARMA.

A looping, elliptical experience, WRITTEN BY stars Lau Ching-Wan as a lawyer and family man who dies in a car accident, an accident that also blinds his daughter Melody. In an attempt to cheer up her mother and herself, Melody then writes an alternate history of the accident in which the women of the family die but dad is saved. But dad in the story is awfully lonely and so he, in turn, writes a story in which he dies and they live...

If that synopsis leads you to regard Wai as roughly a Hong Kong equivalent to Charlie Kaufman, then you are absolutely correct and never has that been more apparent than with his latest effort, WRITTEN BY. Part sweeping melodrama, part emotional fantasy, WRITTEN BY is an absurdist meditation on love and loss. Wai Ka-Fai is as assured as ever here, again proving himself not only one of Hong Kong’s greatest talents but also one of its most unusual.

—Todd Brown

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