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Writer and director Claire Leona Apps shows off Hong Kong in award-winning film
As a writer, Claire Leona Apps is a female voice in the dark arts that uses satirical themes to examine modern society. She is dark, funny, and feminist, and her writing reflects that. Her stories represent a form of humanity that she understands, and she creates a space to discuss more challenging subjects.

As a director, she is extremely versatile, exploring a variety of genres, from drama, to comedy, to thriller, to documentary. She is stylized but serves the story. In both her crafts, she excels, and is an industry leading filmmaker because of it.

Apps' talent has been appreciated around the world. Her films enchant audiences, and as an award-winning writer and director her work has impressed critics at some of the world's most prestigious film festivals. Her thriller And Then I Was French was nominated for Best Thriller at the National Film Awards in London. Apps saw similar triumph with projects such as Girl Blue Running ShoeRuminate and Aceh Recovers

Apps first real taste of international success, however, came in 2006 with her telling drama Gweipo. After growing up in Hong Kong, Apps was inspired to make a film about the different lives that live parallel in that big, crazy city. A local, or an expat, or a helper, as Apps provides as examples, can have extremely different life trajectories that might not overlap as much as one could expect. She also wanted to show the physical range of her city: from the busy streets to the cemeteries, to a wet market. 

Gweipo is a beautiful and intriguing story about Rebecca, a sixty-year-old British woman, whose husband's sudden death allows his darkest secret to surface: he had a child with another woman. Henry, his Eurasian son, desires to meet his sister, driving Rebecca to follow him across the streets of Hong Kong. Through her physical and emotional journey, she challenges her personal limitations creating a delicate and compelling allegory for modern Hong Kong.

"Below every place there is always these similar stories and themes about families and relationships. It is one of the uniting factors throughout the world. It also was the start of my exploration of untold stories in the female perspective. Women have historically held a few repeating character parts in cinema- although thankfully this is opening up now. The character of a woman that is cheated on, but chooses self-sacrifice to keep the family together, is more common than we know. I really believe that the variation of stories in media helps our understanding and relations with people in real life," said Apps.

Gweipo premiered at the Tiburon Film Festival in 2006, and made its way to the IVY Film Festival, and the Cinefest Sudbury Film Festival. It took home Best Jury Prize at AFIA Film Festival and Best Short at Tiger Far East Film Festival. The success of the film was and still is fantastic for Apps, who is proud of what she achieved so early in her career.  

"Casting Francesca Annis in the film was a big win for me. She is an established and fantastic actress that I had loved for a long time. I was delighted when I heard that she loved the script and wanted to be in the film," said Apps.

Apps' vast knowledge of Hong Kong gave her inside knowledge that allowed her to excel when directing the piece. She highlighted her city beautifully and was the start of her dedication to a strongly controlled color palette while directing. She found it interesting to work outside of the usual colors that portray Asia, and the uniqueness of the film is truly appreciated by audiences. 

"Not everyone knows the inner depth of Hong Kong, and it was nice to work on a film that was aiming to show below the usual. People think about money, tall buildings, fast cars and fancy watches. It felt nice to represent this deeper world that I knew because of my childhood in the city," she said. 

Gweipo also allowed Apps to explore her interest towards underrepresented characters with her writing. Rebecca, the main character, is an expat British woman whose husband had an affair with a local woman. The son of his affair and the woman meet for the first time at the husband's (and father's) funeral. Two people's lives were thrown together. They are linked but not from their own actions. They try to reach through this void and find similarities and communicate through prejudice.  

"I like characters to not be black and white. In truth morality is complicated. We are shades of grey and our relationships with others are a mixture of who we are, what we carry with us from our life and our own wrestling with a personal moral structure. It's harder than we think to be 'right' or 'good', and these characters represent a dynamic that I wanted to explore," she added. 

Be sure to check out Gweipo to be taken away with Apps' beautiful writing and directing.

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