The Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA)'s flagship series "100 Must-See Hong Kong Movies", now in its third year, will feature in February and March six historically significant early films to tie in with the HKFA's programme "Transcending Space and Time - Early Cinematic Experience of Hong Kong".
The films to be shown include "A Trip Through China" (1917), recording phenomenons and landscapes of Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing; "Orphan Island Paradise" (1939), depicting the struggles of the people in the orphaned Shanghai during the Sino-Japanese War; and "A Page of History" (1941), a documentary on Dr Sun Yat-sen and the Chinese Revolution shot by Lai Man-wai. The latter film will be screened together with "Scenes of Yan'an" (1938), which records scenes of Mao Zedong and Zhu De commanding and training troops in Xi'an.
The other two films are "Roar of the People" (1941), starring Cheung Ying, Fung Fung and Tso Tat-wah, and director Zhu Shilin's "Sorrows of the Forbidden City" (1948). The films will be shown on February 8, 9, 15, 16 and 22 at the HKFA's Cinema and from February to March at Broadway Cinematheque (BC). "Orphan Island Paradise" and "Sorrows of the Forbidden City" are both digitally restored films from the China Film Archive.
"A Trip Through China" was produced by the Russian-born American Benjamin Brodsky, who made frequent trips to Asia in the early 20th century. He was also the initiator who assisted the first generation of Hong Kong cinema to produce films of their own. The film records scenes in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin. The images and the scripting of intertitles reveal Brodsky's narrative skills and sense of humour. The film was released publicly in America and received favourable reviews.
Director Cai Chusheng's, "Orphan Island Paradise" is set in the orphaned land that was Shanghai during the Sino-Japanese War. The powerful drama depicts the struggles of the people living in this unique land, including a dance girl played by Li Lili, traitors, patriotic underground workers, children selling newspapers, a hawker who cannot speak and other characters from the grass roots.
Shot by Lai Man-wai, "A Page of History" will be shown together with "Scenes of Yan'an". The invaluable documentary "A Page of History" shows Dr Sun Yat-sen leading the Chinese Revolution in the 1920s and climaxes in the Northern Expedition, an attempt to rid China of its warlords and unify the country. A deteriorated version of the film was kept by Lai's descendants until the 1970s. After a restoration effort, 34 minutes of the footage was salvaged, only to be lost later. It was rediscovered by Lai's sixth son Lai Shek and donated to the HKFA. For this new print, some shots have been replaced with better quality images discovered in recent years.
"Scenes of Yan'an" (aka "On the Northwest Line") is the first film for which Hong Kong filmmakers were authorised to shoot in the headquarters of the Chinese communists. The film records scenes of Mao Zedong and Zhu De commanding and training troops in Xi'an. This is an important record of Yan'an as the capital of the Communist Revolution.
Produced by the Grandview Company and directed by Tang Xiaodan, the wartime drama "Roar of the People" features the darkest corners of Hong Kong during the Sino-Japanese War. The poor are forced to starve on the street while the rich continue to thrive, and a businessman bullies workers and even sells tungsten wire to the enemy. The character played by Cheung Ying finally leads the workers to fight back against the evil businessman.
Directed by Zhu Shilin, and with a script written by Yao Ke and starring Shu Shi and Zhou Xuan, the classic "Sorrows of the Forbidden City" chronicles the 15-year political turmoil between the Guangxu Emperor, Consort Zhen and the Empress Dowager. It covers major events such as the Hundred Days Reform, Yuan Shikai's betrayal and the Boxer Rebellion, and ends with Guangxu's detainment.
"Roar of the People" is in Cantonese, and "Orphan Island Paradise", "A Page of History" and "Sorrows of the Forbidden City" are in Mandarin. All films have both Chinese and English subtitles. "A Trip Through China" and "Scenes of Yan'an" are silent films with live music accompaniment by Wong Yan-kwai and friends. Post-screening talks will be held and hosted by Law Kar, Grace Ng, Lai Shek, Matthew Cheng and Joyce Yang in Cantonese with free admission.
Tickets for screenings at the HKFA are priced at $40 and are now available at URBTIX. Half-price concessionary tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 or 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 BC are priced at $55 and are now available at BC and its website. Tickets priced at $40 are available for senior citizens aged 60 or above, full-time students and children aged 11 or below. There is a 20 per cent discount for BC VIP members. Phone ticketing can be made on 2388 3188 or on the Internet at www.cinema.com.hk.
For enquiries, please call 2734 2900 or 2739 2139. Detailed programme information can be obtained in the "ProFolio 70" leaflet, which is distributed at all performing arts venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and at BC, or by browsing the webpage at www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2011ms100/2011ms100_film.html .
Ends/Friday, January 24, 2014
Issued at HKT 14:56
A film still of "Orphan Island Paradise" (1939).
A film still of "Scenes of Yan'an" (1938).
Film still of "A Page of History" (1941).
A film still of "Roar of the People" (1941).
A film still of "Sorrows of the Forbidden City" (1948).