Wednesday 5 October 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 5/10/2022

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / James Chambers

On location

Tony Leung, the star of iconic films such as In the Mood for Love and Chungking Express, has arguably done more during his career to attract visitors to his hometown’s neon-lit streets and steamy dim sum teahouses than any government-funded tourist campaign – and at 60, he’s not done yet. Leung’s oeuvre is being honoured this month at the Busan International Film Festival, which gets under way today in South Korea’s second city.

Six of his classic films are being screened over the course of the 10-day event and the modest actor will be on the red carpet to pick up an award for Asian film-maker of the year. Leung starred in last year’s mediocre Marvel film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. His superhero turn was billed as a breakthrough English-speaking role but I hope that some of his newer fans will have gone back to watch him act in his native Cantonese. After 40 years in showbusiness, Leung deserves to be fêted by his Asian peers – and the timing of the Busan retrospective couldn’t be more apt.

Nostalgia for old Hong Kong is all the rage right now and no one does the bygone days better than Leung. Hong Kong cinemagoers are eagerly awaiting the release of his forthcoming film, the aptly named Once Upon a Time in Hong Kong (pictured). The big-budget production, based on a true story about corporate corruption and collapse in the 1980s, reunites Leung with the creative team behind the Infernal Affairs trilogy. Hong Kong’s star might have dimmed on the global stage but one of its most famous sons can still attract an audience.

James Chambers is Monocle’s Asia editor.

Image: Shutterstock

Defence / Poland

Edge of war

The Warsaw Security Forum, previously just another stop on the European defence and foreign policy talking-shop circuit, has a greater sense of urgency this year, given that it is situated an afternoon’s drive from Poland’s border with Ukraine. At a conference hotel in a forbiddingly remote suburb of Warsaw, defence manufacturers are attempting to interest passing delegates in tanks, fighter jets, security software and camouflage fatigues; a few are offering biscuits. Many discussion panels, inevitably, reflect on the lessons of the conflict in Ukraine. A couple, densely populated by the forum’s uniformed contingent, wonder whether we’re seeing the end of heavy armour and manned combat aircraft. On the diplomatic track, the key theme is maintaining the resilience of European public opinion, especially as winter looms. There’s a Ukraine angle to that too. As Luxembourg’s defence minister, François Bausch, tells The Monocle Minute, “That’s very important, because otherwise people in Europe will say that we have the disadvantages of winter for a war that could be lost.”

For more from the Warsaw Security Forum, tune in to ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Shutterstock

Politics / Finland

Tongue tied

A new manifesto by Finland’s right-wing party, The Finns, has been increasing tensions with the country’s Swedish-speaking minority. The populist party has previously called to remove compulsory Swedish classes in schools but the new policy platform goes further, alleging that learning the language is (among other things) harmful for Finnish speakers’ self-identity, causes poor results at school and harms students’ career progress. Tom Simola, editor in chief of Finland’s oldest newspaper, Åbo Underrättelser, which is published in Swedish, calls the new programme a direct attack on the country’s Swedish speakers, who constitute about 5 per cent of Finland’s population.

The country’s schoolchildren could undoubtedly also spend their days learning Portuguese or Mandarin Chinese but there is unquestionable value in knowing a language that is not only spoken domestically but also in a nearby nation. The language policy has guaranteed good relations between Finnish and Swedish speakers and, considering the unpredictability of neighbouring Russia, that unity should be seen as an asset not a distraction.

Image: Museum of Islamic Art

Art / Qatar

Organised religion

Qatar’s Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) reopened today after an extensive 18-month renovation. The update features new interactive and audiovisual features, previously unseen artefacts and an overhaul of the permanent exhibits. “Before, it was very much single objects that were highlighted,” museum director Julia Gonnella tells The Monocle Minute. “Now we’ve put everything in context with a more historical approach to cultural themes.” The new galleries have a global and holistic approach to Islamic art, covering everywhere from Spain to China and Southeast Asia.

The museum (pictured), which was designed by award-winning architect IM Pei, will debut Baghdad: Eye’s Delight on 26 October, which looks at that city’s status as an artistic and intellectual hub, from the Abbasid caliphate era to the 20th century. MIA’s reopening coincides with an influx of tourists coming to Doha in November for the World Cup; Gonnella hopes that some of them will find time to visit the galleries too.

Image: Andrea Pugiotto

Manufacturing / Italy

Orange zest

The volcanic city of Catania, perched at the base of Mount Etna on Sicily’s east coast, has erupted with an abundance of cutting-edge fashion and manufacturing businesses. Established in 2014, Orange Fiber creates high-quality textiles using the by-products of Italian citrus fruits, many of which are grown in Sicily. The start-up has worked with international fashion giants, including H&M, giving them a reputation that’s caught the attention of mainland Italy, a once fairly stubborn audience.

“Many of our employees come to us,” says CEO and co-founder Enrica Arena, who studied in Milan and worked with the UN in Egypt before returning home to Catania. The city has traditionally been considered resistant to change but Arena hopes to change that through her crafting of luxurious materials. “We used to see Sicily as an example of how business should not be done.” It’s clear that this emerging generation of Catania’s creatives is continuing the tradition of homegrown labels but this time with a twist.

To read the full story, pick up a copy of ‘The Entrepreneurs’, which is on newsstands now.

Image: Alamy

Monocle 24 / The Urbanist

The Monaco Grand Prix

Emily Sands visits Monaco to see how the tiny principality with a big reputation for motor racing is affected by its annual race.

Monocle Films / France

Escape to la campagne: Normandy

Pierre-Edouard Robine traded city life to rediscover his farming roots in 2016. Since then, he has built a sparkling wine business and forages for Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris, alongside tending to his small herd of cattle. We travelled to his farm in La Courbe, Normandy, to lend a hand with tending the land and hear about the benefits of rural living.


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