The Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA)'s flagship "100 Must-See Hong Kong Movies" series has received a widespread positive response since its launch in October last year. In its collaboration with Broadway Cinematheque (BC), the HKFA has succeeded in expanding its audience to a more diverse range of movie-goers. For the coming year, both venues will continue to showcase different Hong Kong film classics. To bring more focus to the programme, the screenings at the HKFA will be condensed into quarterly showcases, while BC will maintain its twice-monthly schedule. For January, two costume classics have been chosen in line with the HKFA's retrospective programmes on King Hu and Yam Kim-fai, while from February to April six films featuring melodrama or tales of love will be screened.
To complement the retrospectives "Zen and Sense in King Hu's Films" and "Yam Kim-fai Centenary Celebration", the "100 Must-See Hong Kong Movies" series will screen on January 5 and 13 director Li Han-hsiang's "Empress Wu Tse-tien" (1963), which stars Li Lihua and has King Hu co-acting. Director Lee Tit's "Butterfly and Red Pear Blossom" (1959), which stars Yam Kim-fai and has a screenplay by Tong Tik-sang, will be shown on January 19 and 27.
"Empress Wu Tse-tien" is an early Li Han-hsiang palace chamber masterpiece that is epic in scale. Director Li demonstrated his command over grand sets and big casts, a skill that synced well with the fine craftsmanship and spectacular sets of set designer Chan King-sam. With a pair of piercing eyes ready to spark contempt when they find the right target, leading actress Li Lihua brilliantly portrays Empress Wu's ruthless exercise of power.
Written by the great librettist Tong Tik-sang, and featuring Lee Tit's elegant direction and superb performances from Yam Kim-fai and Pak Suet-sin, "Butterfly and Red Pear Blossom" brings Cantonese opera to cinematic life. The film features two lovers who have never met in person but whose poetry over three years has subtly declared their unyielding love. Yam's minimalist acting style enables her to convey dynamic passion as well as step about the stage with ease and accomplish the image of a resolute, yet gentle, scholar. Pak meanwhile defies a prime minister with pride and dignity. Cantonese opera actor Lau Wai-ming will share her views at the post-screening talk at the HKFA on January 19.
The six films to be screened in February at the HKFA are "Mysterious Murderer" (Parts 1 and 2) (1951) and "Forever Yours" (1960), both featuring poignantly beautiful plots; the delightful and memorable "How to Get a Wife" (1961) and "An Autumn's Tale" (1987); and two films on criss-crossing identities, "Autumn Moon" (1992) and "C'est la Vie, Mon Ch?ri" (1993). They will be screened respectively on February 2, 3, 16, 17, 23 and 24 at the HKFA and at BC from February to April.
Starring Fong Yim-fun, "Mysterious Murderer" is directed by Tong Tik-sang and adapted from his own play for the big screen. Fong portrays the tragic life of a woman who is a lover, a daughter, a daughter-in-law, a mother and a sacrificial lamb, as well as a criminal. With the help of cinematographer Ho Look-ying, Tong created a visually striking visual motif that can be explained as film noir with an oriental twist. The result is not only an emotionally poignant epic, but also one of the most marvellously shot black-and-white films in Cantonese cinema history.
Life is never fair and the lovers in director Evan Yang's heartbreaking romance "Forever Yours" are no exception. The film features a couple fighting against the husband's terminal disease and shows that love can transcend life and death. Although Grace Chang doesn't perform her notable singing in the film, the performance in the heart-shattering final scene alone shows her diverse talents and accomplishments.
In the delightful office comedy "How to Get a Wife", director Chun Kim unites the screen couple of the handsome Patrick Tse and the pretty Patsy Kar Ling to reflect Hong Kong's rapid rise as a metropolis and the new office culture. Whether it's because of Chow Yun-fat's hilarious one-liners or the heart-warming final line, every Hong Kong film lover has a favourite moment in director Mabel Cheung's timeless romance classic "An Autumn's Tale". Chow, in one of his greatest performances, plays a vulgar Chinatown restaurant waiter while Cherie Chung portrays a woman who moves to New York for school and discovers her long-time boyfriend (played by pop singer Danny Chan) has been cheating on her all along. The odd couple fight their way into an unspoken bond. Director Cheung will share her filming experiences with audiences at the post-screening talk on February 17.
Directed by Clara Law and with a screenplay by Eddie Fong, "Autumn Moon" is the fourth film in Law's "Emigration Series". It features Nagase Masatoshi as a young Japanese tourist who encounters Pui-wai, a teenage girl about to emigrate to Canada. The two wandering souls form a bond that transcends cultural and language barriers. The film explores the anxiety felt during the peak of Hong Kong's emigration rush and the price of leaving one's roots behind.
Director Derek Yee breathed new life into the melodrama genre in "C'est la Vie, Mon Ch?ri", with Anita Yuen playing an eternal optimist who can see the best in every situation, even when she is facing death. The film is also full of Hong Kong memories, with scenes of Fung Bo-bo performing to raise funds for Yuen, Lau Ching-wan looking for local a dessert stall, and street performances and Cantonese opera singing at Temple Street.
"Autumn Moon" is classified as Category III and only ticket holders aged 18 and above will be admitted. "Empress Wu Tse-tien" and "Forever Yours" are in Mandarin, "Autumn Moon" in Cantonese, Japanese and English, and the other films are in Cantonese. All films are with Chinese and English subtitles.
Tickets for "Empress Wu Tse-tien" and "Butterfly and Red Pear Blossom" are now available while tickets for other screenings will be available from January 2 onwards. Tickets priced at $40 for screenings at the HKFA are available at URBTIX with half-price concessionary tickets available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities and their minders, 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 is available in "ProFolio 66" 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 at www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2011ms100/2011ms100_index.html .
Ends/Thursday, December 27, 2012
Issued at HKT 18:34
A film still from "Empress Wu Tse-tien" (1963).
A film still from "Butterfly and Red Pear Blossom" (1959).
A film still from "Mysterious Murderer" (1951).
A film still from "Forever Yours" (1960).
A film still from "How to Get a Wife" (1961).
A film still from "An Autumn's Tale" (1987).
A film still of "Autumn Moon" (1992).
A film still from "C'est la Vie, Mon Cheri" (1993).