In the morning of December 10, 2019, “The Thirteen Hongs”, China’s first reality experiential history documentary opened in a limited release at the “Day of Guangdong” South China documentary series activity of the Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival. The chief planner, executive director, chief script writer, historical consultants and story’s protagonists joined with over 200 viewers and journalists at present to enjoy the film’s highlights in advance. This announces the official release of the documentary.
“The Thirteen Hongs” is a 4K ultra high definition documentary series with seven episodes, each lasting 50 minutes. It took three years in pre-production and one year in filming over 80 figures and stories at more than 30 cities in 9 countries or regions on 3 continents, before we finally enjoy this sole official documentary in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Macao’s return to China. Based on the history of Guangdong’s Thirteen Hongs, the documentary series traces the relics of the trading posts in Guangzhou under the single trading port system and probes into the historical significance and influence of the Canton factories to today’s economy, culture, art and many other aspects. The stories took place during the Thirteen Hongs period caused a butterfly effect and have affected the current lifestyle in China and at the rest of the world. Macao was a forefront of global trading over 200 years ago. Frequent cultural fusion and economic interactions have laid a foundation for this international metropolis long time before. In the face of the blooming Greater Bay Area and the 20th anniversary of Macao’s return to Chinese sovereignty, the film crew hope to use some real stories of this ages, novel language and expression to inspire more audience and youths in particular to fall in love with this meaningful and interesting history.
Over a hundred years during the 18th and 19th centuries, less than 100 merchants were appointed by the imperial court to manage tens of trading firms engaging in conducting trades with foreign countries in Guangzhou, the only port in the country opened to the outside world. These thirteen trading posts drew over 20% of the global wealth then to this port of Guangzhou. Among those involved in these business deals there were emperors, officials, merchants and even ordinary people of the Qing Dynasty, and British, American, French, Spanish, to name a few. In a word, most of the G20 countries today have benefited from business with the thirteen hongs. In “The Thirteen Hongs”, the “Kitty Thirteen”, mascot of the documentary recounts the tales of the thirteen hongs and stories about money. Adopting the reality experiential method, the series referred to the scene mentioned in the historical records two centuries before. The work abandons the traditional re-enactment measure widely used by historical documentaries and creates a novel model for its kind by inviting young celebrities to interpret the history with personal experience.
At the limited release, many viewers showed appreciation and admiration of the work. Some expressed they had never known documentary could be so thrilling and interesting. The series blazes a trial in artistic creation, adopts various expression techniques to combine documentary, animation and reality show together.
In the following “Day of Guangdong” activity of the Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival, Ng Chi Leong, the President of Administrative Committee of Macao Foundation; Zheng Guangyao, CBO of Macao Cable TV; Cai Fuqing, President of Guangdong Radio and Television and the film’s mascot “Kitty Thirteen” attended the launching ceremony and announced “The Thirteen Hongs” would be officially released soon. It is learned that the documentary is scheduled to be aired on Guangdong Satellite TV, Macao Cable TV and Youku online video and streaming service platform in the middle or late December.