Here at That’s Shanghai we are unapologetic – neigh proud – Michelle Garnaut fanboys. The woman made wonderful things happen in this city (and Hong Kong... and Beijing), and we were only honored to be a part of it all.
Fittingly, a documentary is being made about the last days of the reign of the Queen of M on the Bund, the teaser trailer of which gave us what we believe young folks today describe as all the feels.
Wiping away a wistful tear, we reached out to director/producer Luo Tong for a bit of background:
"In December 2021, I received a message from Michelle Garnaut, telling me that she was planning to close M on the Bund in the new year. I felt very emotional that day. M had been a part of my life for 20 years; I had met my in-laws there for the first time before getting married, and celebrated birthdays and special occasions there with friends and family.
"Michelle had screened my films at M; she had even invited the musicians from A Farewell Song to perform after the screening.
"I met up with Michelle the next day, and expressed the idea of capturing the last weeks of M’s final run with a documentary crew.
"Michelle has always been a great supporter of wild ideas. With her endorsement, and encouragement, we had complete access – to the venue, the staff, the archives – to shoot what we wanted, and to tell the story of M on the Bund as we saw it.
"So many people have special memories, and a special love, for M on the Bund. There was an outpouring of stories shared by people across Shanghai and around the world; from celebrities, world leaders, and regular folk like me.
"Everyone we talked to, everyone we filmed, expressed so much love and gratitude towards this place. It is no exaggeration to say that it reshaped Shanghai, an audacious project that was never just a restaurant, but a whole community of people and ideas; a tour-de-force of glamour and gumption which I’m glad to have been witness to.
"Over those final weeks, a few words and moments quickly grew into dozens of interviews and hours of footage. I saw shades of my own experiences reflected in others, a version of every great moment I’d had there repeated a thousand times.
"Sitting in the edit, I felt a sense of obligation. This wasn’t just the story of a working class girl from Melbourne, who against the odds became one of the top restaurateurs in China; not just the story of the countless people who had been to M over the years.
"It’s the story of a city, of dynamic change over the course of two decades, and of the endless possibilities that can become real when people are brought together."
Check out the teaser trailer here:
With a working title of M on the Bund, Luo Tong is aiming for a release date for the documentary some time next summer. We'll certainly be keeping you updated on developments.
Interestingly, M on the Bund is being made by the same production house that made The Six, the award-winning documentary that goes in search of the untold story of the Chinese survivors of the Titanic. You can read more about that in the link below.
[Cover image and video courtesy of Luo Tong/LP Films]