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Early treasures to celebrate "World Day for Audiovisual Heritage"

     The preservation of Hong Kong's cinematic heritage, which is both rich and fragile, is a major goal of the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA). In support of the "World Day for Audiovisual Heritage", the HKFA will present two of the archive's prized titles, "Twin Sisters of the South" (1939), the earliest Cantonese feature the HKFA could locate and "Sable Cicada" (1938), the earliest Mandarin feature in the archive's collection.

     The programme "Early Treasures" will be held at the Cinema of the HKFA, with "Twin Sisters of the South" shown at 2.30pm on October 26 and "Sable Cicada" at 7.30pm on October 27.

     The audiovisual heritage comprises all forms of moving images and recorded sounds, including film. In 2005, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated October 27 every year as "World Day for Audiovisual Heritage" to raise awareness of audiovisual documents as an integral part of national identity, the fragility of these documents and the urgent need to protect them.

     Activities are organised every year around the world to observe this day with a different theme each year. The theme in 2009 is "Fading Heritage: We Can Save It". The HKFA dedicates the screenings of the two films to the saving of Hong Kong's fading cinematic heritage.

     The earliest Cantonese film in the HKFA's collection, "Twin Sisters of the South" is also the last film of actress Wu Tip-ying as well as the first release of her own production company. She not only played the double role of the title, but also produced the film and wrote the scenario for a stage production within the film, giving herself an opportunity to perform a Cantonese opera number. Although the production of this 1930s film is crude by today's standards, it offered a telling portrait of the difficult times.

     Produced by the resourceful Zhang Shankun, director Bu Wancang's first historical drama "Sable Cicada" is the first Mandarin film of Hong Kong. It's based on the cherished story of a Han Dynasty maiden who uses her beauty to seduce a wicked minister in a political scheme. It was initially shot in Shanghai but was eventually completed in Hong Kong when the Sino-Japanese War intensified. The film boasted in advertisements of "a budget of more than 500,000 dollars… a cast of thousands" and "a shooting period of 16 months".

     "Twin Sisters of the South" is in Cantonese with English and Chinese subtitles and "Sable Cicada" is in Putonghua without subtitle.

     Tickets priced at $30 are available at URBTIX outlets. Half-price concessionary tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients.

     Programme details can be obtained in the programme leaflets distributed at all performing venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. Reservations can be made by phone on 2734 9009 or on the Internet at For enquiries, please call 2734 2900/2739 2139 or visit

Ends/Monday, September 28, 2009


A film still of "Sable Cicada" (1938).




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