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"Capturing Light and Shadow - A Tribute to Two Master Cinematographers" at HK Film Archive


     A cinematographer captures moments of fleeting light and shadow to produce inspired images on films. As a tribute to two master cinematographers, Ho Look-ying who flexed his creative genius behind the lens for five decades and Bill Wong, a distinguished cameraman of Hong Kong New Wave Cinema, the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) will showcase their outstanding works in its new programme “Capturing Light and Shadow”.
     The retrospective consists of a screening programme, “Capturing Light and Shadow – A Tribute to Two Master Cinematographers”, showing 25 films of the two masters from tomorrow (July 30) to September 26 at the Cinema of HKFA, and an exhibition at the Exhibition Hall from tomorrow (July 30) to November 14 for audiences to appreciate their dazzling torrent of cinematic imagination.

     The 10 selected works by Ho include films that have English subtitles: “The Dawn of China’s Revolution” (1953) starring Li Lihua; director Li Han-hsiang’s representative works “Blood in Snow” (1956) and “The Enchanting Shadow” (1960); and Ho’s first colour film “The Autumn Phoenix” (1957) starring Jeanette Lin Tsui. Other films are in Cantonese or Mandarin: “Mysterious Murder” (Part I & II) (1951), “Blood-stained Azaleas” (1951), “The Dream Encounter between Emperor Wu of Han and Lady Wai” (1954), “The Little Girl Named Cabbage” (1955) and “The Fisherman’s Daughter (1956).

     The 15 selected films by Wong working with different well-known directors include: Patrick Tam’s “The Sword” (1980) and “Nomad” (1982); Ann Hui’s “The Story of Woo Viet” (1981); Tsui Hark’s “All the Wrong Clues (…for the Right Solution)” (1981), “Shanghai Blues” (1984) and “Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain” (1983); Stanley Kwan’s “Rouge” (1988); Shu Kei’s “Hu-du-men” (1996) and “A Queer Story” (1997); Tong Au’s work “The Christ of Nanjing” (1995). All of them have English subtitles.

     Director Ann Hui’s “The Romance of Book & Sword” (1987) and “Princess Fragrance” (1987), both in Mandarin, and also three TV films, “Social Worker: Ah Sze” (1976), “Seven women: Miu Kam-fung” (1976) and “13: Flower Calamity” (Part 2) (1977), will also be screened.

     To show Wong’s craftsmanship, a film on his demonstration to his students of the Academy for Performing Arts will be shown at the exhibition. There will also be interviews by cinematographer Kwan Pun-leung and Bill Wong expressing their views on the veteran Ho Look-ying.

     A documentary “Landscape from the Other Side: Hong Kong Cinematographer Bill Wong” will be shown on August 29 at 7.30pm and September 26 at 6.30pm. Two seminars, “Ho Look-ying and Bill Wong, Master Cinematographers” at 2.30pm on August 29 and “Wong on Wong” at 4.30pm on September 26 will be held at the Cinema of the HKFA. The documentary screening and seminars are conducted in Cantonese. Admission is free.

     Known as the “heavenly king of photography”, Ho was born in 1913 and started his career in 1930s Shanghai as a trainee. He later moved to Hong Kong, photographing over 150 Cantonese and Mandarin films for different directors including Li Han-hsiang, Lee Sun-fung and Richard Poh. His film set was charged with tension, delivering an ever thickening air of spine-chilling suspense. Even on a limited budget, he made films with a visual style that was bold, daring and unique in his era. He was named Best Cinematographer at the 7th Asian Film Festival and the 2nd Golden Horse Film Festival. He died in 2003.

     In Li Han-hsiang’s directorial debut, “Blood in Snow”, Ho skillfully portrays the complexity of a love triangle and the characters’ emotions with his camera setups and lighting. In their co-operation in the ghost film “The Enchanting Shadow”, Ho deftly animates Li’s designs into great cinema, with images engaged with the story on both the literal and figurative levels.

     In the martyr movie “The Dawn of China’s Revolution”, Ho displays a remarkable chiaroscuro lighting and a virtuoso exercise in framing to convey the spirit of the revolutionary cause, while in the melodrama “The Autumn Phoenix”, he incorporates the exotic impressions of Thailand into an escalating drama, culminating in a thrilling nocturnal showdown at the ruins of a temple.

     Born in 1945, Bill Wong started his career in television, working with New Wave directors such as Ann Hui, Patrick Tam and Allen Fong. His images are subtle and refined and his stories are imbued with lyrical and delicate changes of light, colour and camera movement. He is in fact an important member of the fabled New Wave, excelling in film and helping to establish an international reputation for Hong Kong cinema. He lensed over 40 films in the 1980s and 1990s, four of which earned him Best Cinematographer at the Golden Horse Awards. He was also awarded Best Cinematographer at the 3rd Hong Kong Film Awards.

    “The Sword” was the first film Wong worked on, in which he valiantly executes director Patrick Tam’s ambitious, meticulous mise-en-scene, balancing formalistic compositions, schematic blocking and choreographed fight scenes. Starring Leslie Cheung, “Nomad” is a monument in the Hong Kong New Wave. Tam’s formalist impulses are complemented by Wong’s erotically charged photography. In the ghost classic “Rouge”, Wong orchestrated subtle plays of colours and shadows, capturing the drama with tender precision. Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung are photographed with intimate attention, their delicate beauty embodying the sadness of the changing times. 

     The crazed visions of director Tsui Hark and their adroit execution by Bill Wong often created sparks. “All the Wrong Clues (…for the Right Solution)” creates a world of madcap fun and frolicking excitement, while “Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain” is full of imagination with stunning visuals and whimsy. In his collaboration with Ann Hui in “The Story of Woo Viet” which required understated emotions and expressions, Wong demonstrates his consummate craftsmanship with animation of space and subtle visual qualities.

     Tickets priced at $30 for the screenings are available at all 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. Detailed programme information can be obtained in the “ProFolio 53” distributed at all performing venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

     For ticketing enquiries, please call 2734 9009. Reservations can be made by phone on 2111 5999, or on the Internet at For enquiries, please call 2739 2139/ 2734 2900 or browse the websites: or

Ends/Thursday, July 29, 2010


Picture shows a film still of "Mysterious murder" (Part II) (1951).


Picture shows a film still of "The Enchanting Shadow" (1960).


Picture shows a film still of "Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain" (1983).



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