Important films by directors Fei Mu, one of the greatest filmmakers of Chinese cinema, and Patrick Lung Kong, a visionary and an exceptional director of Hong Kong cinema, will be featured from March 19 to May 8 at the Cinema of the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA).
Counter bookings of the retrospectives "Fei Mu, Film Poet" and "Hong Kong Auteur, Lung Kong" are available at all URBTIX outlets from Thursday (March 11) and internet bookings at www.urbtix.hk. Both retrospectives are contributing programmes to the 34th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF).
Born in Shanghai in 1906, Fei Mu was well-versed in Chinese culture and Western thoughts. He was rare among his peers in taking film seriously as an art, diligently engaging himself in both theory and practice, working hard towards an aesthetic for Chinese cinema. He worked in theatre and loved opera and funnelled all these into his work, realising a style of poetic beauty and evocative subtlety which was uniquely Chinese.
Many of his works had been lost, partly as a result of the troubled times, but from what had survived, there is much to admire. He was not an ideologue, neither was he indifferent to the world around him. He made films that captured the difficult times in China and expressed the yearnings of the people. He never stopped searching for the best ways to do that.
Films to be screened include his poetic masterpiece "Spring in a Small Town" (1948), which is regarded as one of the 10 best Chinese films ever made, his earliest available directorial work "Song of China" (1935), the remarkable fusion of film and Chinese opera: "Murder in the Oratory" (1937) starring Peking opera star Zhou Xinfang and "A Wedding in the Dream" (1948) starring another Peking opera great performer Mei Lanfang; the backstage comedy "On Stage and Backstage" (1937), the national defence film "Bloodshed on Wolf Mountain" (1936), the stylised short "Nightmares in Spring Chamber" (1937), the drama directed by an European couple "Children of the World" (1941) and the work based on his script "The Show Must Go On" (1952).
To enhance the programme, a seminar entitled "The Art of Fei Mu" will be held at 5pm on March 27. Film critic Wong Ain-ling and Programmer of the HKFA Sam Ho will share their views on the appreciation of the director's work. The seminar will be conducted in Cantonese. Admission is free.
Director Lung Kong was ahead of his time in farsighted portrayals of neglected issues and bold confrontations of sensitive social topics, courting controversy with unflinching fervor. He left an indelible imprint as one of the most original and uncompromising auteurs of the 1960s and 70s. His unique approach to filmmaking might have been met with mixed reactions but his influence is long-lasting.
He started his film career in the 1950s as an actor of Shaw Studio. He learnt directing from veterans Chow Sze-luk and Chun Kim. He was dedicated to elevating Cantonese cinema to new levels by pushing the envelope of Hong Kong film practice.
He is a director of strong personal vision, expressing highly opinionated views and telling stories with sensational treatment. He cared deeply about Hong Kong, addressing in his films such social issues as rehabilitation of ex-convicts, career criminals, juvenile delinquency and prostitution. He championed an active institutional role in dealing with these social issues at a time when such an idea was as novel as it is commonplace today.
The selected films are his work for director Chun Kim in "The Big Circus" (1964), "Pink Tears" (1965) and "Mimi-Private Eye" (1965); his directorial debut "Prince of Broadcasters" (1966), his celebrated titles "Story of a Discharged Prisoner" (1967), "Teddy Girls" (1969), the highly controversial "Yesterday Today Tomorrow" (1970) and "Hiroshima 28" (1974), feminine-based "The Call Girls" (1973) and "My Beloved" (1971), melodrama "Pei Shih" (1972) and touching love stories "The Window" (1968), "Mitra" (1977) which was shot in Iran and sci-fi "Laugh In" (1976); his being the producer for director Patrick Tam's "Love Massacre" (1981) as well as reference films from three directors: John Woo's "A Better Tomorrow" (1986), Chor Yuen's "The Joys and Sorrows of Youth" (1969) and Derek Yee's "The Lunatics" (1986).
To complement the screenings, an exhibition titled "A Creative Journey with Lung Kong" will be held from March 19 to May 16 at the Exhibition Hall of the HKFA. Apart from introducing Lung's directorial life, the HKFA will also collaborate with the Hong Kong Arts Centre to invite artists of the new generation to create visual art works that echo with the film world of Lung Kong. Admission is free.
A new book "Oral History Series (6): Director Lung Kong" will be released in late March. The publication not only includes detailed interviews with the director, but also essays from famed critics and scholars expounding their views on Lung's work. Priced at $120, the book is in Chinese and the English edition is in CD-ROM.
Two seminars will be held at the Cinema of HKFA. Director Lung and film critic Lawrence Lau will share their experiences and memories in "The Cinema of Lung Kong" at 5pm on March 20. Director Vincent Chui, artists Chow Chun-fai, Rita Hui, Sham Ka-ki and Au-Yeung Shing who have responded their work in the exhibition will have "A Dialogue with Lung Kong" at 7.30pm on March 23. Both seminars will be conducted in Cantonese. Admission is free.
Tickets for all screenings are priced at $30. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Phone reservations can be made at 2734 9009 from Friday (March 12).
Detailed information and various discounts can be obtained in the "ProFolio 51" or "The 34th HKIFF Programme and Booking Folder" distributed at all performing venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. For programme enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900 or browse the websites: www.filmarchive.gov.hk or www.lcsd.gov.hk/fp.
Ends/Tuesday, March 9, 2010