Master director Fei Mu's lost classic "Confucius" (1940) is an important film not only from the perspectives of film and aesthetics, but also in regard to Chinese history, culture, art history, musicology and other disciplines. The screening of its initial phase of restoration last year met with an overwhelming response. This year, based on scientific evidence from the negatives and research on available literature, the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) has inserted nine minutes of loose fragments back into the film, restoring it to a condition much closer to its original glory.
Counter booking for the "Restored Treasures Confucius" will start at all URBTIX outlets and internet at www.urbtix.hk from tomorrow (March 11).
The further-restored 2010 version of "Confucius" will be screened at 6pm on April 2 at the Grand Theatre of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. This screening is presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) in collaboration with the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society.
Film critics Wong Ain-ling, Shu Kei, HKFA's programmer Sam Ho and conservation personnel Koven Lo will share their experiences on film preservation in the post-screening talk.
Two other screenings will be held at 2.30pm on April 17 and May 2 at the Cinema of the HKFA. Director Tian Zhuangzhuang and columnist Mao Jian will discuss the film with audiences in the seminar "Fei Mu's Confucius" at 4.30pm on April 17 after the screening.
A bilingual new book "Fei Mu's Confucius" will be released during the screenings' period. It consists of articles from Ms Barbara Fei and Professor Serena Jin, family members of the filmmakers, and also essays by renowned scholars and writers on different aspects of the director’s art.
"Confucius" is a remarkable artifact and an extraordinary production of the Chinese film industry. It is a work of great significance in the oeuvre of Fei Mu, one of the greatest directors in the history of Chinese cinema.
The film project was first conceived in Hong Kong in 1938 and later shot in Shanghai. It was considered lost for many years, until by coincidence, a set of the film's nitrate negatives was rediscovered in Hong Kong half a century later. The damaged print was restored by the HKFA and screened last April with nine-minute loose fragments shown at the end. The film's rediscovery fills a significant void in Chinese cinema and has provided important clues in the study of Fei Mu.
The HKFA is dedicated to collecting and preserving film material to lay the foundation for studying the history and cultural heritage of Hong Kong Cinema. Restoration of "Confucius" was a complex project. The initial phase involved copying the damaged nitrate material and fragments that had been broken off onto safety stock.
This year, the HKFA is presenting the film in its second phase of restoration. The film will be shown in the original Movietone format, with a 1:1.16 aspect ratio.
"Confucius" is a film that speaks of its time and its past. It was made by Fei Mu during the "Orphan Island" period, when much of Shanghai was overrun by the Japanese while China's screens were dominated by crude, maudlin costume dramas. With a mission to improve the quality of Chinese cinema, producers Jin Xinmin and Tong Zhenmin invested an exceptional budget on the film.
As the debut feature of Jin and Tong's Min Hwa Motion Pictures, "Confucius" is remarkably formalistic, its austere mise-en-scene portraying the title character not with sensational heroics but sorrowful dignity.
The film is in Mandarin. Parts of the sound track are missing but Chinese and English explanations based on research conducted by the HKFA will be presented in subtitle form to help audiences follow the story.
Tickets for all screenings are priced at $40. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Reservations can be made at 2734 9009 from Friday (March 12).
Detailed programme information and various discounts can be obtained in the "ProFolio 51" or "The 34th Hong Kong International Film Festival Programme and Booking Folder" distributed at all performing venues of the LCSD. 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/Wednesday, March 10, 2010