Cityscape in Early Moving Images
Three of the four programs under this theme feature selections of documentaries that represent some of the most valued treasures in the Hong Kong Film Archive. About four minutes of The Edison Shorts features a look at the streets of Hong Kong in the late 1890’s. Pre-war Images of Hong Kong (donated by Ms. Dolores Wang) features views of many Hong Kong neighborhoods as well as Victoria Harbour. The Charles Gilbert Collection , Hong Kong: Gateway to China and the many shorts by Michael Rogge are all historically significant documents of Hong Kong’s history as well. The fourth program is DECADE , a digital initiative by the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority co-curated by the HKFA.
The Spectacular Early Years
Michael Rogge Retrospective (1)
Michael Rogge Retrospective (2)
Pioneer Filmmaker Hou Yao
Hou Yao (1898?-1942) was one of the most unique and versatile film artists in Chinese and Hong Kong cinema history.He spent his life pursuing art, politics and national pride, drifting along in the chaotic wave of history. One of the earliest Chinese filmmakers and a renowned intellectual during the Republic era, Hou started his career as a playwright before going into film in the 1920’s. Later that decade, Hou briefly left the film world and entered politics as a secret operative against the Japanese invaders. He began writing political theories and novels after moving to Southern China. Many of his works condemned Japan for its conspiracies to invade China and encouraged the Chinese to fight for world peace. Hou moved to Hong Kong in the 1930’s and began directing Cantonese-language films, including anti-Japanese films, military propaganda and even popular folklore dramas. Later, Hou moved further south with his lover Wan Hoi-ling, making Malay-language films in Singapore and Malaysia. Unfortunately, he was killed by the Japanese military when it invaded and occupied Singapore. As part of Chinese cinema’s first generation and one of the first Chinese filmmakers to move south, Hou witnessed the transition from silent films to talkies. His works blended local traditions with western romanticism, creating a unique view of the world that was equally artistic and critical.
Incident in the Pacific
Way Down West
A Poet from the Sea
The Pearl Necklace
Re-discovering Pioneering Females in Early Chinese Cinema
Even in the early days of Chinese cinema, we were not lacking in female pioneers who were bold and creative in initiating film projects. We have chosen four films to showcase these female talents, each with a unique background and perspective.
One of the first female directors in Hong Kong, Esther Eng joined the film industry at the young age of 20 in the 1930’s. Though not many of her films survive, the hard work of researchers managed to uncover enough information for the feature length documentary Golden Gate Girls . After its world premiere at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, S. Louisa Wei – who directed, wrote and edited the film – created a new cut of the film with new voiceovers. Wan Hoi-ling is a long-time collaborator of director Hou Yao. Starting out as Hou’s scriptwriter in the 1930’s, Wan also codirected Cantonese-language films with Hou and Hung Chung-ho. Her films were believed to have been lost, but we were able to obtain a print of Mandarin-language film Spirit of Overseas Chinese , shot in Singapore, from the China Film Archive. Furthermore, the HKFA was also able to obtain over ten nitrate prints of pre-war films from the United States, the earliest one being The Light of Women (1937), starring Lee Yin-nin. Not only does it show us one of Lee’s earliest works, it also helped us understand the filmmaking process of 1930’s Cantonese-language films. We also discovered that a Chinese-American female director named Marion Wong directed a film named The Curse of Quon Gwon , believed to be the first Chinese-American film ever made. 35 minutes of footage from the film were recovered, and it will be screened to Hong Kong Audience for the first time.
Golden Gate Girls
The Light of Women
Spirit of Overseas Chinese
The Curse of Quon Gwon
Grandview’s Cross-border Productions
Grandview Film's founder Joseph Sunn Jue (aka Chiu Shu-sun) moved to the United States at the age of five and has longed to make films at an early age. In July, 1933, Jue founded Grandview in hopes of creating Cantonese talkies. He even recruited Kwan Tak-hing, who was touring in the United States at the time, to star in The Singing Lovers (1933), the studio’s inaugural film. Seeing the potential popularity of Cantonese cinema in Asia, Jue came to Hong Kong and produced 60 films between 1934 and 1940. After returning to the United States in late 1939 to escape the war, Jue continued making Cantonese films in Grandview’s San Francisco “U.S. branch.” In the ensuing decade, Grandview produced an additional 30-odd films, all about the struggles of Chinese people working overseas, their identity crisis and their complex feelings for their homeland. Unfortunately, only a few of these films have survived the test of time. The Hong Kong Film Archive is screening five U.S.-produced Grandview films, as well as A Baby for Everybody (1948), the company’s first color film produced in Hong Kong after the war. Four of the films in the program were produced in Technicolor, giving audiences a colorful glimpse of life as a Chinese immigrant living overseas.
The Way to Brightness
Black Market Couple
White Powder and Neon Lights
A Strong Wind Banishes the Swallow
A Baby for Everybody
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