The Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA)'s flagship series "100 Must-See Hong Kong Movies" has generated widespread interest on the festival circuit both at home and abroad. From July to September the series includes films on Chinese opera and the sorrowful fate of the songstress, as well as comedies by directors Tso Kea and Michael Hui.
Two films on Chinese opera will be screened in July. Director Tso Kea's "The Sorrowful Lute" (1957), featuring the poignant life of a Cantonese opera star played by Fong Yim-fun, will be shown on July 7 and 15, while director Ann Hui's wacky comedy "The Spooky Bunch" (1980) will be shown on July 21 and 29.
Based on the Hollywood film "Love Me or Leave Me" (1955), "The Sorrowful Lute" follows the story of an opera aficionado who aspires to stardom and strikes a Faustian bargain to realise her dream, with Cantonese opera star Fong Yim-fun and famous actor Ng Cho-fan in the lead roles. Fong exploits mob boss Ng's fascination with her, only to find herself unable to escape his domineering and obsessive control. The film is one of director Tso Kea's representative works in the MP&GI studio. Film critic David Chan will host the post-screening talk on July 7 and Cantonese opera star Yuen Siu-fai will meet the audience after the screening on July 15.
In "The Spooky Bunch", the tradition of Cantonese opera provides an evocative dramatic context for the youthful New Wave cinema. Starring Josephine Siao Fong-fong, Kenny Bee and Lau Hark-suen, director Ann Hui uses Cheung Chau Island as a giant backstage for the opera, featuring a confluence of the new and the old, the living and the dead, the young and the elderly, the real and the theatrical. Josephine Siao is brilliant as an actress full of wacky energy, while the director is at her stylised best, skillfully channeling Cantonese opera's iconic qualities to set the title's spooky mood. Film critics Natalia Chan and Yu Siu-wah will host post screening talks on July 21 and 29 respectively.
Two films featuring the sorrowful fate of the songstress will be shown in August. Director Li Han-hsiang's "Blood in Snow" (1956), which stars Li Lihua and Grace Chang, will be shown on August 4 and 12, and director Wong Tin-lam's musical noir "The Wild, Wild Rose" (1960) will be shown on August 18 and 26.
Adapted from Shi Tuo's "Big Circus", director Li Han-hsiang sets the story of "Blood in Snow" against the backdrop of authentic street culture, successfully capturing the nuances of folk life in northern China. The film is a downbeat version of the backstage musical, with small-time performers and their gloomy lives animated by a troubling love rectangle. Li Lihua is superb as a folk-opera singer with a fiery personality, and Grace Chang is effervescent as an innocent up-and-comer. Film critic Grace Mak will host the post-screening talk on August 12.
With a character similar to Bizet's "Carmen", the lead role of "The Wild, Wild Rose" is played by Grace Chang, the always-captivating star shunning her established wholesome screen persona and literally going wild as a sultry temptress with a heart of gold. The film is marked by director Wong Tin-lam's stylish mise-en-scene, a tight script and evocative music. It is one of the best songstress films and a work that represents the high point of Mandarin cinema. Writer Peter Dunn will host the post-screening talk on August 26.
To complement HKFA's new programme, "Father & Son: Two Visionaries of Cinematic Dreams - A Tribute to Set Designers Chan Ki-yui & Chan King-sam", in September the "100 Must-See Hong Movies" series will screen two comedies with set designs from the father and son. Director Tso Kea's "The Chair" (1959) will be shown on September 1 and 9, and director Michael Hui's "The Private Eyes" (1976) will be shown on September 15 and 23.
The melodrama "The Chair" is adapted from the classic Russian novel, "The Twelve Chairs". The story recounts the frantic pursuit of an antique chair, in which a priceless diamond bracelet is hidden, by good-for-nothing dandy Cheung Ying, his bitchy mistress Mui Yee and flattering buddy Keung Chung-ping. This zany and meandering adventure has the trio running around luxurious mansions, flea markets, and various backstreets and corners of Macao. Director Tso Kea handles the madcap narrative with a gleeful hilarity hitherto unseen. Chan Kei Yui's elaborate set design in the studio also circumspectly provides a touch of European aura that was a regular feature of the ex-Portuguese colony. The post-screening talks on September 1 and 9 will be hosted by film critics Jack Ng and Ho Man-lung respectively.
"The Private Eyes" is one of the funniest comedies in the history of Hong Kong cinema. It offers an impressive study of one of the most loathsome yet incredibly charming and sympathetic characters on the screen – the selfish, covetous, preposterous, bossy and largely exploitative private gumshoe played by Hui himself. Although made mostly on location, the film relies a great deal on the intricate and effectual set-design by Chan King-sam. Director Hui will meet the audience after the screening on September 15 while film critic Chan Suk-yi will host the post-screening talk on September 23.
Films in the "100 Must-See Hong Kong Movies" series will be screened each month at the HKFA and Broadway Cinematheque.
"Blood in Snow" and "The Wild, Wild Rose" are in Mandarin while all other screenings are in Cantonese. All films have Chinese and English subtitles.
Tickets for the screenings in July and August are now available while tickets for screenings in September will be available from August 1.
Tickets for screenings at the HKFA are priced at $40 and 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. Credit card bookings can be made on 2111 5999 or on the Internet at www.urbtix.hk.
Tickets for screenings at Broadway Cinematheque are priced at $55 and are available at Broadway Cinematheque and its website. Tickets priced at $40 are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, full-time students and children aged 11 or below. There is a 20 per cent discount for Broadway Cinematheque VIP members. Phone ticketing can be made on 2388 3188 or on the Internet at www.cinema.com.hk.
Detailed programme information can be found in leaflets distributed at all performing arts venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and at Broadway Cinematheque. For enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900, or browse the webpage at www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2011ms100/2011ms100_index.html
Ends/Thursday, July 5, 2012
A film still from "The Sorrowful Lute" (1957).
A film still from "The Spooky Bunch" (1980).
A film still from "Blood in Snow" (1956).
A film still from "The Wild, Wild Rose" (1960).
A film still from "The Chair" (1959).
A film still from "The Private Eyes" (1976).