In view of the enthusiastic response to the August and September offerings of the Hong Kong Film Archive's (HKFA) "Restored Treasures" series, extra screenings of "A Matter of Life and Death" and "Black Narcissus" will be held on September 17 and 18 respectively at the HKFA's Cinema. Both films will be shown at 7pm.
The two restored films are works by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, who produced a series of highly accomplished films during their long collaboration and directed some of British cinema's most enduring and influential masterpieces. Not always critically praised or commercially successful at the time, the filmmakers are now widely acknowledged as cinematic visionaries ahead of their time.
Regarded as one of the greatest British films of all time, "A Matter of Life and Death" (1946) is a delightful fantasy that asks bold questions about mortality, faith and the afterlife. Starring David Niven and Kim Hunter, it was Powell and Pressburger's first film using colour - a daring mix of black-and-white and dazzling Technicolor photography. A British airman miraculously survives after his bomber crash-lands. He then meets the American radio operator with whom he had talked and fallen in love before the crash. When informed that his survival is a "mistake", he refuses to be summoned to the afterlife and demands a hearing.
The film was restored at a cost of around US$150,000 by Sony Pictures in co-operation with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and the British Film Institute (BFI). The restoration process was completed using photochemicals and the soundtrack was digitally remastered.
"Black Narcissus" (1947) is famous for its sumptuous cinematography. Five nuns set up a convent in the distant Himalayas intending to minister to the local population, but their mission is hampered by inner demons. Sister Superior, played by Deborah Kerr, is on the run from a salacious past and struggles with her attraction to a dashing British agent. Another beautiful yet unstable sister also makes a bid for his affections. The HKFA will screen the restored version, which was released in 2005 by BFI Distribution to celebrate the centenary of Michael Powell's birth. The restoration was carried out by ITV Studios under the supervision of cinematographer Jack Cardiff and Powell's widow, Oscar-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker-Powell.
Both films are in English with English subtitles.
Tickets priced at $50 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. There is a 10 per cent discount for each purchase of tickets for both screenings. Credit card bookings can be made on 2111 5999, or on the Internet at www.urbtix.hk.
Detailed programme information can be found in "ProFolio 58", distributed at all performing venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. For enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900, or browse the website http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/ce/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2011rt3/2011rt3_film.html.
Ends/Monday, August 22, 2011