"Critics' Choice 2012" features films chronicling their times
Film runs parallel with time and reflects society. Through cinema, one can see a chronicle of the different times in history, showing frame by frame the chaotic arena of power, deserted and lonely borderlands, re-creation of political movements, or simply flows of thought - all capturing memories in film for audiences to think about and recall. Following the popularity of "Critics' Choice" in the past two years, the programme this year focuses on works that insightfully depict their times.
Six film critics from the Hong Kong Film Critics Society have selected six favourite films from different eras. The screenings will be accompanied by post-screening seminars and workshops for audiences to enjoy the cinematic pleasure and trace the footsteps of time.
"Critics' Choice 2012 - The Films in Their Times" is presented by the Film Programmes Office of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and organised by the Hong Kong Film Critics Society. The films selected by critics Lam Chiu-wing, Joyce Yang, Thomas Shin, Matthew Cheng, Lau Yam and Dominic Li are director Sidney Lumet's "Network" (1976), which has not been shown in Hong Kong for many years; Cuban director Humberto Solás' classic "Lucía" (1968); Wim Wenders' masterpiece "Kings of the Road" (1976); Elia Kazan's "On the Waterfront" (1954); French director Abel Gance's silent film "I Accuse" (1919); and Oshima Nagisa's famous work "Night and Fog in Japan" (1960) respectively.
The films will be shown from May 6 to October 28 at the Cinema of the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) and the Lecture Hall of the Hong Kong Science Museum. The film critics and their guests will host the post-screening seminars for some of the screenings. The six critics will also host a seminar named "The Films in Their Times" on October 28 at 4.30pm at the Cinema of the HKFA. All seminars will be conducted in Cantonese. Admission is free.
To complement the screenings, a series of six workshops on film criticism will be held at the function rooms of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre on Saturdays from 2.30pm to 4.30pm. In the first three workshops, film critic Chan Ka-ming will first introduce the interactive relationship between films and the society through films from the 1920s to the 1970s. The workshops will be held on July 14, July 21 (with guest speaker director Alex Cheung) and July 28. The other three will focus on film criticism. Film critic Kaming will introduce film appreciation in terms of film language and critic strategy on August 4, August 11 (with guest speaker Ernest Chan) and August 18. All the workshops will be conducted in Cantonese.
Haunted by the Vietnam War and the Watergate Scandal, Sidney Lumet had a sudden turn in 1976 to make predictions and satirical remarks on the TV media in "Network", criticising the greed of capitalism and the hollow, helpless human beings under the development of technology. Starring Peter Finch and Faye Dunaway, "Network" features a news anchor who threatens to make a suicide attempt during a broadcast but this act surprisingly brings high ratings. Even the experienced news division supervisors feel lost in the mad competition for ratings. Broadcasting networks, television in the past and the Internet nowadays have cast a spell on people of all ages. The film won Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress at the 1977 Academy Awards, as well as Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress at the 1977 Golden Globe Awards. Writing on "Network", critic Lam Chiu-wing noted, "Television can only talk about film, yet film is capable of giving a precise reflection of the TV era."
Director Humberto Solás' first feature film, "Lucía", is a stunning Cuban masterpiece of the New Wave. It depicts the revolutionary progression that lasted 70 years in Cuba, and focuses on the significant years of 1895, 1933 and 1965 to interpret the destiny of individuals coming under the impact of the era through the love stories of three Lucías. The three tales include tragedy, serious drama and comedy, with stylistic experiments in cinematography that impress. The film is a trilogy about female liberation within the prospects of class and gender and a groundbreaking Latin American film different from the Western model. The film won the Golden Prize at the 1969 Moscow International Film Festival. Commenting on "Lucía", critic Joyce Yang said, "In decoding the era's politics through a female perspective, the film is a Latin American cinematic classic."
"Kings of the Road" is Wim Wenders' finale in his "Road Movie Trilogy", and it offers an affectionate confession to his Cold War-stricken German fatherland in the 1970s, wandering the desolate borderland and bringing in poetic discourse. Two men who meet by chance keep observing in their journey, examining serious topics like the abandonment of towns, the loss of communication and cultural heritage through the decline of traditional cinematic culture and personal fault in romance. The film won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival. Critic Thomas Shin noted, "Black and white shots, soul-stirring music and deserted land arouse the age-old charm of the road movie."
In the early 1950s, America was deeply scarred by McCarthyism. Director Elia Kazan was once a member of the American Communist Party, but eventually broke away from it and even started naming other members. Meanwhile, Hollywood also went realistic. In Kazan's "On the Waterfront", Marlon Brando gives life to the character of a humble dockworker, who is forced to choose among a brother, a lover and justice but finally is able to stand up to testify. The film carries Elia Kazan's scream and hesitation. It won eight awards at the 1955 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actor. "The spark from Elia Kazan and Marlon Brando lights up the whole age," observed critic Matthew Cheng on the film.
World War I rang the first alarm of the 20th century. Through a tale of love and friendship involving three individuals, director Abel Gance's silent film "I Accuse" fights against the storm of war and reveals the dilemma when one is facing the state and war, discussing the value of humanity and art. The solemn and tragic ending projects hope amid depression and the repeated victory over it. Gance devoted himself to narrative and image experiments, and created a style which still looks avant-garde today. The masterpiece is diverse and passionate in using the artistic language of film. The screening copy from EYE Film Institute Netherlands has been restored from a number of copies and negatives and is now the most complete version. There will be live music accompaniment by Wong Yan-kwai and friends. As critic Lau Yam noted, "Back to the pioneer era, film is still an endless creation, an overwhelming faith and a mission."
Once an active member of the student movement, director Oshima Nagisa integrated his experience in the campaign into his film and reconsidered its meaning. "Night and Fog in Japan" starts with the wedding ceremony of a couple who participated in the movement; later it becomes a fervent discussion between the different sects which review the success and failure of the movement. Composed of 43 long takes, the film intertwines the present and the past with strong contrast of light and dark, re-evaluating the whole process of the student movement and becoming an iconic pioneer of the New Wave in Japan. The film won Best New Director at the 1961 Japan Blue Ribbon Award. Commenting on "Night and Fog in Japan", critic Dominic Li observed, "Oshima Nagisa has re-created an enthusiastic Japanese student movement in his film, with images full of heat and blood."
All films have Chinese and English subtitles or intertitles. "Kings of the Road" is classified as Category III and only ticket holders aged 18 and above will be admitted. "Network" and "On the Waterfront" are in English, "Lucía" is in Spanish, "Kings of the Road" is in German and "Night and Fog in Japan" is in Japanese.
Tickets for all screenings priced at $55 are available at URBTIX outlets from now to May 5. Screening tickets will also be available one month prior to the first screening of each film from May 6 onwards. Tickets for the workshops priced at $80 per session are available from now to May 5 and from June 14 onwards. 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. Credit card bookings can be made at 2111 5999, or on the Internet at www.urbtix.hk.
Detailed programme information can be obtained in the leaflet distributed at all URBTIX outlets. For enquiries, please call 2734 2900 or browse the website at www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2012cc/2012cc_index.html .
Ends/Wednesday, April 18, 2012
A film still from "Network" (1976).
A film still from "Kings of the Road" (1976).
A film still from "On the Waterfront" (1954).
A film still from "I Accuse" (1919).
A film still from "Night and Fog in Japan" (1960).a