The Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) and the China Film Archive (CFA) have been working closely over the years, making it possible for audiences to enjoy many Chinese classics. The CFA has recently acquired new equipment for digital restoration and within a few short years has already restored more than 200 films, with many of them being priceless prints of early classics. The HKFA's "Restored Treasures" series will screen four digitally restored treasures from the early days of Chinese cinema from February to April for audiences to see these early films on the silver screen.
The four restored treasures are the earliest completed Chinese film that still exists, "Labor's Love" (1922); the special effects-laden action adventure "Red Heroine" (1929); director Fei Mu's masterpiece "Spring in a Small Town" (1948); and "Captain Guan" (1951), starring and directed by renowned actor Shi Hui. "Labor's Love" and "Red Heroine" will be screened as a double bill at 2pm on February 2 in the Cinema of the HKFA, while "Spring in a Small Town" and "Captain Guan" will be shown in the same venue on March 2 and April 6 respectively.
To complement the screenings, a seminar entitled "Digital Restoration Strategies of China Film Archive" will be held at 4.30pm on February 23 at the Cinema of the HKFA. The Deputy Director of the Technique Division of the CFA, Mr Zuo Ying, and the Deputy Manager of the Technique Department of the CFA, Mr Wang Zheng, will discuss digital restoration during the seminar, which will be conducted in Mandarin and Cantonese with free admission.
Directed by Zhang Shichuan, "Labor's Love" is an early silent short film. The light comedy features a simple love story of a carpenter-turned-fruit vendor who falls in love with a doctor's daughter in the same street. To get the approval of the girl's father, the fruit vendor has to help the doctor's clinic thrive again. Both the carpenter and the doctor give playful, likeable star performances. Despite being made in the early days, the film displays mature skills in pacing and shot composition.
Showing in the same screening, Wen Yimin's "Red Heroine" features a young girl being transformed into a heroine played by Van Shih Bong. While the film is a typical martial arts heroine origin story, it also includes a digressive romantic subplot as well as splendid suggestive imagery that stretches the limits of what was usually allowed in silent film in the 1920s. To enhance the look of the Red Heroine, Van even requested the film reels be dyed red, which was a daring attempt at colour in the black-and-white era.
The two silent restored movies will have live music accompaniment by Kung Chi-shing and Shane Aspegren.
Poet director Fei Mu's classic "Spring in a Small Town" follows a wife and her sickly husband struggling to maintain their quiet marriage. The arrival of a family friend who happens to be the wife's first love causes ripples in the lives of these three tormented individuals. With simple dialogue, the story depicts the silent inner turmoil of a woman whose feelings and logic are clearly at a clash. Director Fei used this quiet melodrama as a way of reflecting the troubling uncertainty at one of the most tumultuous times in history.
The humorous war film "Captain Guan", which starred and was directed by renowned actor Shi Hui, features Captain Guan and his team at the end of the Chinese Civil War. Shi depicts an admirable commander who bravely leads his men into battle and still retains his humanity in the fires of war. The film was condemned soon after its release and Shi was driven to suicide in 1957.
Film critics May Ng, William Cheung and Lau Yam will share their views with the audience at the post-screening talks of various screenings. The talks will be conducted in Cantonese. "Labor's Love" and "Red Heroine" are in Chinese with English intertitles. "Spring in a Small Town" and "Captain Guan" are in Mandarin. "Spring in a Small Town" has Chinese and English subtitles and "Captain Guan" has Chinese subtitles.
Tickets priced at $50 are now available at URBTIX. Half-price tickets are 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 at 2111 5999 or on the Internet at www.urbtix.hk.
Detailed programme information can be found in "ProFolio 70", 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 at www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2011rt3/2011rt3_film.html.
Ends/Thursday, January 23, 2014
Issued at HKT 12:35
A film still of "Labor's Love" (1922).
A film still of "Red Heroine" (1929).
A film still of "Spring in a Small Town" (1948).
A film still of "Captain Guan" (1951).