Elia Kazan is one of the most influential directors in the history of Broadway and Hollywood. Some of his famous works include "Gentleman's Agreement" (1947), "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951), "On the Waterfront" (1954) and "East of Eden" (1955). His quest for cinematic realism often led him to cast unknown actors in his films, which had the knock-on effect of creating new Hollywood legends by introducing such talents as Marlon Brando and James Dean. The Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA)'s "Restored Treasures" series in September and October will present two of the director's classics to show the splendour of his legendary works.
The "Restored Treasures" series will show Elia Kazan's forward-looking political work "A Face in the Crowd" (1957) and his sprawling epic "America, America" (1963) at 2pm at the Cinema of the HKFA on September 2 and October 7 respectively. Film critics Lam Chiu-wing and Matthew Cheng will host the post-screening talks respectively. The talks will be conducted in Cantonese.
Controversy struck when Elia Kazan agreed to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952 and named members of the American Communist Party. Although his testimony cost him many friends in the industry for the rest of his life, his artistic achievements and influences on cinema have proved that he is one of the most influential American directors. Martin Scorsese and Kent Jones' documentary "A Letter to Elia" (2010) describes Kazan's influence on Scorsese's films, and Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather, Part II" (1974) is influenced by Kazan's "America, America".
"A Face in the Crowd" was another work by Kazan and Budd Schulberg after "On the Waterfront". The plot concerns a lonely man who resonates with the general public thanks to his good voice and eloquence. His stardom quickly rises, and soon enough he finds himself on national television. However, his quest for glory turns from small-scale profiteering into political manipulation. Startlingly ahead of its time in its prescient depiction of media manipulation and the corrupting power of fame and celebrity, the film nevertheless retains Kazan's tortured adoration for the United States, while underscoring numerous social issues of the time such as the power of the media and the exploitation of the lower classes. The film was restored by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with preservation funding provided by the Film Foundation and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
"America, America" is the representative work of Kazan from the 1960s and his most personal film. He follows a young Greek in his desperate efforts to escape a life of hardship and persecution in Turkey for a new life in America. The screenplay was adapted by Kazan from his own book and is based in part on his uncle's life. The film is a new print preserved by UCLA with preservation funding provided by Warner Bros in association with the Film Foundation and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
The films are in English without subtitles.
Tickets for "A Face in the Crowd" are now available at URBTIX outlets. Tickets for "America, America" will be available from September 7. Tickets are priced at $50. 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.
Detailed programme information can be found in the programme leaflet, which is distributed at all performing venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. For enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900, or browse the webpage: www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2011rt3/2011rt3_film.html.
Ends/Tuesday, August 28, 2012
A film still from "A Face in the Crowd" (1957).
A film still from "America, America" (1963).