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Capturing Light and Shadow

Capturing Light and Shadow - A Tribute to Two Master Cinematographers

Cinematographers are the under-sung heroes of film. They are seldom ignored entirely, for their work is critical to how films look. Yet they are often acknowledged in cursory terms, their contributions overshadowed by those of directors. It is therefore with great excitement that the Hong Kong Film Archive is presenting this program to highlight the work of two outstanding Hong Kong cinematographers, the first of its kind for Hong Kong cinema.

Ho Look-ying (1913-2003) and Bill Wong (1945- ) are both professionals. They have mastered the craft of cinematography, able to produce decent work in the most horrid of provisions. With directors of cavalier ambitions, their photography is precise and effective, with compositions that are beyond reproach. And when conditions are favorable, results can be magical.

Ho Look-ying was known in the film industry as Sheying Tianwang, Heavenly King of Photography. He started his glorious career in 1930s Shanghai as a humble trainee and moved after the war to Hong Kong, where he was active in both Mandarin and Cantonese cinemas, having photographed over a hundred films before retiring in the early 1980s.

Conditions in the Hong Kong film industry during Ho's tenure did not lend themselves to good photography. Budgets were always minuscule, schedules forever rushed and equipment never state-of-the-art. Ho rose to the challenges of his times, overcoming the limitations and leaving behind an impressive body of work. His accomplishments were particularly memorable when he was paired with good directors or when conditions were less undesirable, such as better funding or longer production periods, as evidenced by the films featured in this program.

Bill Wong has enjoyed better production values for his work, but has to answer to the demanding calls of a rapidly changing industry that gave rise to the 1980s golden period of Hong Kong cinema.

Wong started his career in television, working with such directors as Ann Hui, Patrick Tam and Allen Fong. He is in fact an important member of the fabled New Wave, moving on with the more high-profiled helmers onto film, maturing and excelling in the medium and helping to establish an international reputation for Hong Kong cinema. He has participated in many milestones of his time, unfortunately not all of them can be included in this program.

"Capturing Light and Shadow: A Tribute to Two Master Cinematographers"is presented with the assistance of the School of Film and Television, The Hong Kong Academy for erforming Arts and Shu Kei, who contributed to the selection of titles.


Last Updated On :22-07-2010