Though the permanent building of the Hong Kong Film Archive will be completed in 1999, the Archive's office is actively executing its tasks of collecting and restoring films. Like all the world's archives, we face the challenge of seeking out prints of early films. Unfortunately, it is difficult for us to find the works made before the 1940s.
To research the early history of Hong Kong cinema, we must rely on written and oral materials that have been relatively better preserved. One of the tasks of the archive is to publish a catalogue of all the films ever produced in the territory, offering this as a basic tool to film scholars and researchers.
Film scholars have been better served in relation to the filmographies of Hong Kong cinema's recent productions. It is a different story with the early part of Hong Kong cinema output. Because of the difficulty involved in tracing this history, no scholar has ever attempted to study it in any depth. The Hong Kong Film Archive has undertaken this study and it has now planned to publish several volumes of the Hong Kong Filmography containing the complete list of Hong Kong productions beginning with its first fiction film (1913's Chuang Tzu Tests His Wife).
Our first volume of the Hong Kong Filmography documents the details of over 600 pictures produced in the pre-war period, including about 400 that were made in the 1930s alone. This was an important decade in the history of Hong Kong cinema development. The territory's first sound movie, first colour movie, and first Mandarin movie were produced in the '30s. It was also the decade that yielded the tradition of patriotic movies, the so-called 'National Defence Cinema' that became a mainstream genre in Hong Kong following the invasion of China by Japan. In the late '30s, Hong Kong took in many filmmakers from Shanghai and other parts of war-torn China. Between 1938 and 1941, Shanghai and Hong Kong filmmakers worked together in an unprecedented period of co-operation, helping the Hong Kong film industry to flourish. All the films produced in this period are listed in this volume.
This is made possible thanks to the hard work of our research staff, particularly Mr. Yu Mo-wan, who spent many months collecting and refining all the literary materials culled from old newspapers and magazines. Our editorial and translation staff then put in further painstaking research to ensure the veracity of all details. I thank them for their devotion and hard work.
Because many details and materials of early films are lacking, this volume of the Hong Kong Filmography poses a great challenge to the Archive. However, we have made the first step and we hope that our friends and supporters will check the book for imperfections and offer their comments.
Finally, on behalf of the Archive, I thank all those people from different sectors who have helped us with their suggestions and proofing the materials.