Sydney Film Festival: Ray Yeung on All Shall Be Well (從今以後) and LGBTQ Rights in Hong Kong

“If you really thought of me as your Auntie, you wouldn’t ask that.”

For thirty years Pat and Angie have lived together. Now in their sixties they are entering what should be their golden years together when Pat dies suddenly without leaving a will.

Everybody in Pat’s ‘family’ adored Auntie Angie – until it comes time for the money to be divided. Slowly Angie is pushed aside and viewed as Pat’s ‘best friend’ not her life partner. 

All Shall Be Well (從今以後) is Ray Yeung’s Berlinale Teddy award winning film which depicts slow heartbreak as Angie watches everyone she thought of as her extended family prioritise money over her. Shing (Pat’s brother) begins with good intentions but is easily swayed by his wife Mei and her jealousy towards Pat and Angie’s lifestyle. Victor and Fanny are love Aunty Angie who has always taken care of them, but not enough to hold fast and support her and her right to live in the Waterloo Street apartment. How can Angie now claim her love, and her space to be respected as who she was – Pat’s real “family.”

Nadine Whitney speaks to Ray Yeung about the tender and intimate All Shall be Well playing at the Sydney Film Festival 2024 on Thursday 6 June and Sunday 9 June. Tickets are available via

All Shall be Well continues your interest in showing the lives of LGBTQ+ elders in Hong Kong. What draws you to telling their stories?

Ray Yeung: In 2020 I attended a talk about LGBTQ inheritance rights in Hong Kong and the speaker mentioned three lesbian couples who lost everything after the death of their partners and faced strained relationships with the families of the deceased. I found these stories perfectly reflect the lack of protection for same sex couples in Hong Kong, so I decided to make a film based on this situation. The fact that these couples have all been in a long-term relationship and have a long history with their family members means that they will have to be of an elderly age. The story also deals with inheritance rights and therefore the protagonists make more sense that they are in their 60s.

All Shall be Well documents incremental heartbreak. At first Angie (Patra Au) believes the worst thing has happened, she has suddenly lost her life partner. But through Pat’s (Maggie Li Lin Lin) family and their freezing her out over money, she loses a sense of who she was.

RY: For many years Angie believed that Shing’s family was her family but after Pat’s death, Angie suddenly finds out that they are not treating her as if she was family. The acceptance she thought she had was only skin deep. Once her partner was gone, she was expelled from the family and lost her identity as a family member.

When writing the film how important was it to you to show how Pat’s nephew and niece Victor (Leung Chung Hang) and Fanny (Fish Liew) feed Angie’s self-doubt?

RY: In the film they were both supportive of Angie in the beginning. However, when the opportunity suddenly arises, they have their own reasons for taking that opportunity and decide to act on their own desire, ignoring Angie’s needs altogether. This is part of human nature.  We always look after our own interests first. In the film, the lack of legal protection exposes the weaknesses in people’s relationships and could turn them against each other for their own selfish gains.

Mei’s (Hui So Ying) comments about how blessed Pat and Angie were for never having children and “Doing what they wanted,” speaks to her jealousy because she finds her husband and children disappointing. But more importantly it shows how little she cared to learn about Angie. Angie has mothered her children for years. Is Mei representative of a larger problem in Hong Kong?

RY: Mei has worked very hard all her life and felt that she deserves better. As someone who works on a very low salary, Mei sees Angie’s apartment as her only way out of the poverty trap that she is stuck in. I don’t think this is a Hong Kong problem, but rather a universal situation. When people who don’t have enough, is suddenly given the chance to own something which even they know they don’t deserve, they will make up an excuse to convince themselves that they are doing the right thing in taking it.

You are working with some set collaborators. Veronica Lee for the score, Leung Ming Kai for cinematography, and Tai Bo and Patra Au who both featured in Suk Suk. Do you find having people you worked with before creates a kind of shorthand when you are directing?

RY: It is an absolute pleasure to work with the same team because there is a trust which you have built from previous projects. They understand my vision and I believe in their taste and abilities. I don’t think about this as “shorthand” but rather we are able to dig deeper when you have a mutual trust and respect with each other.

Patra Au is relatively new to acting in leading film roles. How did you find her?

RY: I met Patra via the Hong Kong Reparatory Theatre. She is a veteran theatre actress who has been acting on stage for over forty years, and she is not new to acting in leading roles. However, Suk Suk was her first film role, and she has been appearing frequently on screen since then. She is a very experienced actress so once she got used to the technique of acting on screen, the rest was very easy for her.

What is it like working with actors who come from different genre backgrounds like Maggie Li Lin Lin and putting them into quiet dramatic roles?

RY: Maggie was a household name in the 1980s Golden Era of Hong Kong television. She had been retired for thirty years and we were very glad that she decided to come out of retirement to play the role of Pat. For Maggie she just needed to adapt her acting style to a more naturalistic performance which is required for All Shall Be Well. Once she knew the style I preferred, she made the adjustments very quickly.

All Shall be Well is about Angie taking back every part of her life for over thirty years through symbolic gestures. Proving to herself what she assumed was accepted. That she was Pat’s family. Can you tell me about your process in building those steps for Angie?

RY: Everything is in the script. I do a lot of research before I write a treatment. Then I work on the treatment for a long time before I start writing the first draft of the screenplay. I also invite different groups from different communities to the table reads of the scripts and then rewrite it according to their feedback.  It is a long and labour process to get the story to work out naturally and convincingly.

How does it feel having won the Teddy award in Berlin?

RY: All Shall Be Well is the second Hong Kong movie which has won the Teddy Award for Best Feature and the third Chinese language film which has won this prestigious award. We feel very honoured that the Berlinale jury had chosen All Shall Be Well as the winner for this year. The award has led the Hong Kong International Film Festival to position it as the Opening Film; this shines a spotlight on an LGBTQ movie and is particularly meaningful to me. Hopefully it will take away some of the stigma that is attached to LGBTQ movies in Hong Kong.

Does Hong Kong have a chance to change the laws regarding same sex marriage and recognition of civil partnerships, or do you think it is unlikely despite support in many quarters?

RY: Due to a verdict of a court case last September, the court has ordered the HK government to provide a legal framework to protect the rights of same sex couples, so hopefully there should be some form of recognition in the near future.

Who do you hope will see and support the film?

RY: I hope everyone will watch and support the film. The film does not only deal with LGBTQ rights, it also explores what is the meaning of family in the modern context.  It shows we can have our chosen family which could be just as close if not closer that blood ties. However, the inheritance law does not include that. For now, the only way to protect your loved ones is by making a will — this applies not only to the LGBTQ community but to everyone in society. I hope people will watch the film and come out thinking they have to make a will to protect the ones they love.

Finally, I wanted to thank you for such a quietly powerful work. I felt every betrayal, and I felt Angie’s resolve wavering and growing strong. The film is extraordinary.

RY: Thank you so much! I appreciate it. Hug!

Nadine Whitney

Nadine Whitney holds qualifications in cinema, literature, cultural studies, education and design. When not writing about film, art or books, she can be found napping and missing her cat.

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