When I came to Hong Kong in 1988, the Hong Kong film industry was at its peak. It was so exciting to work in such an energetic and thriving industry. But as an actress, it was always a passive role, waiting to be called on the set, sitting around a lot, focusing on outer appearance. I had so much to say but didn’t have an outlet. When I switched over to the production side, it was so much more fulfilling. Working with the local crew, I came to understand the real Hong Kong, the hard-working, fast paced, ever so adaptable energy of the city.
As a director in Hong Kong, I am infected with this strong energy and have learned to adapt to situations to make things work. With my perspective as a woman and a mother, the issues that I have explored and will continue to explore will always be sourced from what I see and how I feel. There is much to explore in the private issues of women. There are so many issues that we don’t discuss but want to explore.
Born in Hong Kong in 1966, Crystal Kwok Kam-yan immigrated to the United States at age nine. She attended UCLA, studying drama, film and television and obtained a Master’s degree. She later studied at the University of Hong Kong, graduating with a Master’s degree in literature. In 1987, after winning the Miss Chinatown pageant in the U.S., she returned to Hong Kong and joined Golden Harvest, acting in the Jackie Chan films Dragon Forever (1988) and Police Story II (1988) and starring in Four Loves (1989), Will of Iron (1991) and The Master (1992). Working also on dubbing, research and scriptwriting, Kwok came to realize that she preferred roles behind the scene, leading to her serving as assistant director on Sylvia Chang’s Mary From Beijing (1992).
In 1999, Kwok produced, directed and scripted The Mistress (1999), which was based on the experiences of her friends and herself. The film won the Audience Award at the Deauville Asian Film Festival, but suffered at the Hong Kong box office because its controversial topic resulted in a Category III rating.
Since then, she had been actively involved in film, television, radio and the stage, often taking provocative stances on women and gender issues. She had hosted talk shows on Cable Television and TVB and, starting in 2011, the RTHK radio program Kwok Talk, till June 2013.
In 2004, Kwok wrote and directed the play Fertility Goddess, taking on the issue of reproduction from a female perspective. Her 2007 performance of The Vagina Monologue was so well received that it was revived three time the same year as well as restaged in 2013. In 2009, she wrote and directed Pussycat Theatre on stage, which examined the topic of menopause. She is also the author of the bilingual books Crystal’s Storm, Boys and Bastards, The Deep End and Babes and Bitches.
A mother of three, Kwok had also developed an interest in education, founding a workshop on teaching languages to children and releasing the bilingual DVD Culture Cubs.
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