[FEATURE] Ten Years Later: Leslie Cheung’s Memorial Exhibitions

Note: To commemorate the 10th anniversary of Leslie Cheung’s passing, this is the second of two feature articles written by JayneStars’ Contributing Writer, dd, to celebrate the great music and film legend.

Hong Kong has been abuzz over the last few days with people from Asia arriving to see the exhibitions and events for Leslie Cheung’s (張國榮) 10th year death anniversary. They didn’t come to mourn – they came to celebrate his life and achievements. It’s a pilgrimage for Leslie’s fans to come together once more. I’d like to share my experience after attending the Causeway Bay Times Square exhibit, the Candlelight Vigil at the Jardine House,  The Art of Leslie Cheung’s Movie Images Exhibition, and the flower presentation at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Before I start, I must apologize to everyone for blowing the camera budget granted to me by Jayne on my debilitating horseracing gambling addiction. But don’t you worry – I’m in rehab already and I’ve been clean for the past three days (and counting!). In fact, I had to dig into my meager food budget to buy a cheap Samsung digital camera in order to take these pictures.

 2 Million Cranes – Causeway Bay Times Square Exhibition

Leslie Cheung 2013 memorial exhibit

According to Japanese legend, if you fold a thousand paper cranes, then a crane will come down from the heavens and grant you one wish. Of course, there are certain terms and conditions attached to this process, such as cranes being non-transferable, and assuming the crane does appear then you can’t ask for more wishes. So I pose to you the question: what does 2 million cranes do? Do you get 2,000 wishes?

I don’t know the answer, but if you have ever wondered how 2 million paper cranes are folded then here it is:

Leslie cheung 2013 memorial exhibit

Her name is “Ah Fei”. She sits by herself continuously folding, surrounded by Leslie memorabilia and boxes of already folded paper cranes. When the mall opens, she’s the first to arrive. When it closes, she is the last to leave. In fact, some say that she doesn’t leave the mall at all. Her parents bring her food and homemade soup along with words of encouragement like, “Hang in there!” and….alright I’m just kidding.

The area was cordoned off by divider panels on the ground floor of the shopping center complex. Leslie’s bust was covered by a red curtain. This was the case when I came in on March 29, since it was supposed to be unveiled that day. The Guinness staff didn’t finish counting yet, so it afforded them an extra day to fold. I poked my head in and chatted with a few of the ladies who were folding and asked if I could join in. No go.

Apparently the Guinness regulations regarding the record crane-folding attempt were stringent on the number of people they started with must be preserved throughout the attempt, or the attempt would be voided. Makes sense. As for the girl sitting by herself, I guess when it came to crunch time she didn’t want to be surrounded by gossiping aunties and just wanted to fold her cranes.

The exhibition was absolutely packed on Saturday night. I arrived at 6:30 PM because I rushed from Yuen Long to try to make it on time. I missed the unveiling and Daffy Tong’s (唐鶴德) speech.  On display were Leslie’s costumes he wore at concerts and in his movies. There was also a box where you can put your own cranes in, but they wouldn’t be counted in the attempt. When I took a picture of the bust, a man was talking to his wife, saying that it didn’t look like Leslie. I don’t know, what do you think?

There was also a display outside with movie posters and a small hut with an LCD display of his concerts played on loop. If you plan to visit, keep your umbrella open inside since it leaks when it rains.

Flowers at the Mandarin Oriental


Every year starting from March 31, fans of Leslie leave their tributes at the side of the Mandarin Oriental–the site of his suicidal jump in 2003–to show that they still miss him. There were many flowers this year. I talked to one of the attendants, and they told me some flowers arrived early on March 30. I planned to walk through the tributes while filming, but the line wouldn’t move so I only got a few minutes of footage.

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Candlelight Vigil – Jardine House

For the entire week, Hong Kong weather was marked by showers. By some miracle, the rain eased up on Monday afternoon which gave the green-light to the candlelight vigil. Knowing Leslie fans, they would have done it anyway under umbrella-cover.

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I didn’t get a good spot because I made a detour to the piers and the Central Government Complex down at Admiralty. Being a Hong Kong movie geek, it’s my interest to visit filming locations. Also, my apologies with the low-angle shots. I saw a girl walk while recording a video on her phone, and I realized how silly you look when you walk while looking at the screen on your camera so I had it by my chest.

At 6:41 PM, a minute of silence was observed. They should’ve made this announcement in Mandarin as well, because some mainland Chinese women were still jabbering. The candles were made of paper coffee cups and candlesticks. Afterwards, an excerpt from one of Leslie’s concerts was played and a message in Cantonese, Mandarin and English was given. I looked around; most of the crowd were women, and I felt really out of place. It makes sense, most of Leslie’s fans are women and the men who watched movies would rather watch them for the actresses. Then again, I did see a CCTV reporter crying while filming a news tidbit. He kept making mistakes because he couldn’t finish his sentences. I also bumped into a camera while they were filming an interview with a fan, so I may have gotten on television for all the wrong reasons. TVB, if it was you, then you know where to send my check.

A lot of people were from China, but I saw some Japanese tourists as well. In fact, I do believe that many Chinese tourist companies made this site a tour-stop since I saw many tour guides holding flags, which were cashing in on Leslie’s death a bit. The mood was very somber, and the crowd was slow to disperse. Not much conversation either. I’ve never seen so many women around me crying, other than the time everyone found out I wasn’t single anymore. I say this in jest.

The Art of Leslie Cheung’s Movie Images Exhibition


The “The Art of Leslie Cheung’s Movie Images Exhibition”, which was held at the Hong Kong Central Library Exhibition Hallwas my favorite because they had replicated many sets from Leslie’s movies, such as The Days of Being Wild <阿飛正傳>, Happy Together <春光乍洩>, Rouge <胭脂扣>, and  Shanghai Grand <新上海灘>.

I spoke to two girls who came from China who wanted me to take a picture for them. When I asked how long they were staying, they told me they took sick leave from work and were leaving that night and only came to Hong Kong to see the cranes, lay flowers at the Mandarin Oriental and to see this exhibition. On display were many of Leslie’s movies with the DVD jackets in different languages; it really drives the point home that his popularity transcended language barriers.

The Commercialization of Leslie Cheung’s Death

I’m glad we were given the chance to commemorate Leslie’s life through these exhibitions. It means a lot to me that this person, whom I looked up to since I was a young kid who didn’t know better, can have his life put on display for people to remember him once more and for people who don’t know him to learn all about him. But I’m 50/50 on the almost crass commercialism in exploiting his death.

I visited a bookshop in Central and there are many books on Leslie and memorabilia-like photo albums, cups, stickers, etc. And his manager, Florence Chan (陳淑芬), screwing the pooch on us all with the special message “from Leslie”; it’s not the first time she’s done this. I understand what she does and what her position is. She’s a manager, and managers take care of things that their employees shouldn’t have to worry about in order for them to work at their full potential. They are middlemen in-between employee and client and they take a cut from the profits in the end. It is what it is. Leslie’s still her client, and she still has a job to do.

If you’re in Hong Kong or you’re planning to visit, do check out the 1.9 million crane exhibition (which ends on May 1 ) and the Movie Images Exhibition (should be up for another month or two). Also if you’re an avid photographer, then I advise you to walk the exhibition twice (once with your camera and once without) to soak in the atmosphere and the exhibits. When you take photos, your world is limited to what you see through your camera’s viewfinder. I would often see people take a photo and just leave, instead of thinking about what they’re looking at. At the recreated set of the mahjong scene in All’s Well Ends Well, I must have spent 5 minutes just remembering the scene from the movie in my head.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my articles on Leslie Cheung. I’d like to thank Jayne for giving me the green light on these articles and everyone for giving me such great feedback. I did this for you, the readers, the fans of Leslie Cheung and the fans of Hong Kong cinema in general. Perhaps I was able to help you remember Leslie Cheung as a professional actor, amazing singer and most importantly, an incredible person.

This is the second of a two-part feature commemorating Leslie Cheung’s 10th year death anniversary. Part one, Ten Years Later, a Leslie Cheung Introspective, was published on March 28, 2013.


Causeway Bay Times Square Exhibition

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Flowers at the Mandarin Oriental 





The Art of Leslie Cheung’s Movie Images Exhibition

The Art of Leslie Cheung’s Movie Images Exhibition  The Art of Leslie Cheung’s Movie Images Exhibition  The Art of Leslie Cheung’s Movie Images Exhibition

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The Art of Leslie Cheung’s Movie Images Exhibition  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES  The Art of Leslie Cheung’s Movie Images Exhibition

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The Art of Leslie Cheung’s Movie Images Exhibition  The Art of Leslie Cheung’s Movie Images Exhibition  The Art of Leslie Cheung’s Movie Images Exhibition

This original feature article is written by dd, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com. All photos and videos are by dd.

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  1. Looking at the videos and photos made me feel as if I were there. “The Art of Leslie Cheung’s Movie Images Exhibition” was well done and covered his prolific film career.

    dd, thanks again for your generosity in sharing with us your firsthand account, the photos, and video!

  2. Thanks for the feature articles dd and Jayne.
    Thanks for sharing with us in words and pictures your experience of the exhibitions, the vigil and Mandarin Oriental.

    I really appreciate the effort in your articles and really enjoyed both parts of the feature.

    Thanks for letting me in on the experience through your camera’s lens and I enjoyed the witty bits in the article.

    I couldn’t believe the tour guides were carrying flags and I had to re-read that line just to make sure that I had read it properly. I find that image kind of disturbing actually. I am imagining a tour guide with a blasé attitude saying, “Ok everyone, we will stop the dvd movie now, we have just reached the Leslie Cheung candlelight vigil, we will stop our bus here for 5 mintues, please don’t follow the wrong flag as you will cause delay, there are no restrooms here. We will go to a restaurant for dinner after this where you can use the restrooms.” Aye aye, not good.

    1. At first I thought maybe it was a private meet-up organized by some mainland Leslie fans who all chipped in to hire a private coach or something but then I saw like 4 of these green tour-flags with some Chinese travel agency on it so I was like “ehhh”.

      1. Oh my, well I do kind of understand that these tours might be conducted for people out of Hong Kong (whom without the tours maybe may not know how to go about to the exhibitions)but the flags in such a setting and mood just seems kind of oddly inappropriate I think. Oh and not 1 or 2, but 4 flags lurking about, aye aye.

        Thanks for sharing your insight and details with us. You have managed to capture the event so well and made me feel like I was there (though I know it must have been absolutely amazing just being there)

        I’m truly grateful for the experience here.

  3. I wish I was there. But then again if I went I might not leave that place. Anyway, thanks for the pictures and videos – I really appreciate it.

  4. dd, thanks so much for writing both feature articles on Leslie and taking so many pictures from the vigil and exhibition. Much appreciated. Even though I couldn’t be there in HK myself to soak in the atmosphere of the 10 anniversary events for Leslie, I can experience a little bit of it vicariously through you. lol. It is heartening to see that Leslie is still remembered and missed by so many people, and not just people from HK.

    Rest in peace, bird with no legs.

  5. I recommend the exhibition at Central Library, it’s totally frikkin sick.

    I’ll have to go there again.

    1. If you can also take some pictures of the exhibition at Central Library to share with us on Jaynestars, that’ll be awesome. hehe, no pressure though.

      1. Felicity,
        The images from the Central Library were the Movie Images Exhibition already featured in the article.

      2. Oh, it is? Doh! Should have read more carefully. Thanks Jayne for clarifying.

  6. While “dd” was there for an assignment, I WAS THERE PARTICIPATING IN THE ABOVE EVENTS.**

    True story is many of the cranes were already folded (started a couple of years ago) by a group of mainland fans. The idea was relayed to Mrs Chan and for the rest of us, it is a fantastic idea to try to fold 2million origami cranes for Leslie. Many of us overseas fans also folded and posted them to HKG a few weeks before the big event took place so that they can be counted. For your information, overseas fans (at least in my group) comes from Austalia, USA, Canada, UK, Germany and Ukraine, and not everyone is Chinese either. Yes, we were still folding (trying to increase the number count as much as we can), many were there daily while some (like us who travelled to HKG) spent at least 8 to 10hrs there daily before the official count. There were many weary fans but the atmosphere was electrifying day-in/day-out. Everyone was so enthusiastic because we are doing it out of love for Leslie.

    Yes the black butterfly (with small white dots on the wings) did appear out of nowhere and flew into the cordoned area where we were sitting and folding. It happened around 10.30pm. on 27/3. The butterfly flew all over the cordon-off area where we were busy folding, went to the huge red display feature (as if inspecting the cranes), also flew quite low a couple of times (just above our heads) as if looking at our activities and encouraging us and then landed on one of the walls but a little while later, it flew back into our area again. It eventually attached itself to the red cloth (covering Leslie’s unveiled bust) just behind ‘Leslie’s hand which was holding the red crane). It did not move for a long time, as if allowing us to snap photos. Mrs Chan told us the butterfly eventually flew off after she and her staff packed up for the night, which was around over 1.00am. Some fans said at one stage the butterfly landed on the red crane.

    A special night never to be forgotten.

    1. Just for the record, many HKG fans also contributed over 500,000 origami cranes.

      1. Sorry, the evening was 28/3 not 27/3.

        Even though the official from Guinness has counted 1,900,119 origami cranes on opening day of 30/3, they are willing to accept any further numbers folded and submitted before 10/4 (end of exhibition). They were so touched by our never-say-die, love and respect for Leslie.

        As for the girl in the above photo….you can actually see that the surrounding area was looking quite clean. It could be really late on Friday night or early Sat morning (already cleaned up for opening at 3.00pm) because the ’empty area’ were previously stuffed with bags and bags of paper cranes (which by now already deposited into the huge display). There were hardly any standing room cause tables, fans, counted and uncounted bags of cranes were stuffed every nook and corner.

    2. Don’t suppose you know anything about the girl sitting alone would you?

    3. Wow! jasmine7, thanks for sharing about the mysterious butterfly that came to visit while you were folding the paper cranes on 27/3! I know that Leslie would be very touched by all his fans sincere gestures and efforts to remember him. Leslie always cherished and adored his fans. Bravo to all who contributed! 🙂

    4. Thanks for sharing more details Jasmine! It is so great that so many still love Leslie so much. I really wonder if that butterfly is Leslie??? Some believe that butterflies are the souls of people that have passed away…

  7. Miss you LESLIE. Thanked you everyone who contributed to the success of remembrance for our love Leslie. Leslie knew what and who has contributed, no need to fight for it. Leslie love us all fans. RIP Leslie

  8. WOW dd!!! Thanks a million for another great article, the photos and the video clips!!! I am touched beyond words and reading and looking through your photos and videos made it seem like I was there myself. I am sure that Leslie would be touched to see all this as well. Miss you so much Leslie!!!

  9. Thanks dd for the coverage. It’s very detailed. Make me miss him so much.
    btw, I am curious about “ah fei”. lol.

  10. wow, ten years in hell and more to come.. eternal, no thanks to the serpert that tricked eve

  11. thanks dd for all the info, photos, video clip…miss you much Leslie

  12. I’m not his fans but this few days been searching a lot his history, I became miss him so much and really feel sad. He have a good voice and good in singing. Others singer sing his songs, no one can sing as good as him. Love him.

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