In view of the enthusiastic response to the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) retrospective "All for One and One for All: Union Film", which showcases the full catalogue of 44 films by Union Film Enterprise, 12 additional screenings will be held from June 3 to 26 at the HKFA's Cinema.
The extra screenings include the films "An Orphan's Tragedy", "Anna", "Big Thunderstorm" and "A Beautiful Corpse Comes to Life", all adapted from foreign and Chinese literature; "Story of Father and Son" and "A Son is Born", featuring themes about family values; the social realist "Sworn Sisters"; the war film "Sea"; and the genre films "Blood Money", "Adultery", "Wonderful Partners" and "We Want to Live".
To complement the extra screenings, a seminar entitled "The Union Film Experience" will be held at noon on June 11 at the Cinema of the HKFA. Well-known Cantonese opera star Yuen Siu-fai, who acted in the films "Story of Father and Son" and "Parents' Hearts", and actor Chiang Kwai-lam, who performed in "Story of Father and Son", will share their filming experiences at Union Film. Some of the screenings will also have post-screening talks. The seminar and post-screening talks will be conducted in Cantonese. Admission is free.
The Union Film Enterprise Ltd is one of the most important companies in Hong Kong's filmmaking history. With a commitment to artistic excellence, creativity and morality, Union Film transformed Cantonese and Hong Kong cinema in the 1950s but was active for only 13 years.
"An Orphan's Tragedy", "Anna" and "Sworn Sisters" have English subtitles. "An Orphan's Tragedy" (1955) reworks Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations" by focusing on class inequality and the corruption of the feudalistic order. In its early segments, the film features child actors Bruce Lee and Josephine Siao. "Anna" (1955) is an excellent adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's voluminous "Anna Karenina", with the courageous heroine transformed into a traditional Chinese woman and victimised by a feudalistic order that refuses to fade away. A rare gem about an underprivileged sector of society, "Sworn Sisters" (1954) is the tale of five live-in maids, working in one of the lowliest professions in Hong Kong.
Other additional screenings are in Cantonese but without English subtitles. "Big Thunderstorm" (1954) is an adaptation of Russian playwright Aleksandr Ostrovsky's novel. Opera superstar Ma Si-tsang, in his first Union Film appearance after joining the company, turns in an outstanding performance as the hypocritical elder. Directed by Lee Sun-fung, "A Beautiful Corpse Comes to Life" (1956) is based on the well-known opera ghost classic "Peony Pavilion".
"Story of Father and Son" (1954) is a heart-wrenching tale of a father trying desperately to make a future for his son while director Chun Kim's "A Son is Born" (1953) focuses on the greatness of motherly love and the power of philanthropic kindness. The war film "Sea" (1963) is an all-star production to commemorate Union Film's 10th anniversary.
In addition to making films about family values, Union Films also made some of Cantonese cinema's best genre pictures. "Blood Money" (1957) is a neglected gem on the power of money and the destructive force of greed. Based on a newspaper's serial novel, "Adultery" (1958) and "Wonderful Partners" (1960) are excellent genre pictures. "We Want to Live" (1960), about robbing the Jockey Club, is another rare gem.
To complement the screenings, the HKFA has released a new publication, "One for All: The Union Film Spirit", with an English edition on CD-ROM, featuring essays contributed by renowned writers and scholars looking at Union Film and its works from various perspectives, by turns historical, aesthetic and cultural.
Tickets priced at $30 are available at URBTIX outlets. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Credit card bookings can be made on 2111 5999, or on the Internet at www.urbtix.hk.
Ends/Thursday, June 2, 2011
A film still from "A Beautiful Corpse Comes to Life" (1956).
A fillm still from "Story of Father and Son" (1954).
A film still from "Blood Money" (1957).
A film still from "Adultery" (1958).