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March
Galaxy of Stars - Golden Age of Shaw's Classics on Big Screen

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Shaw Studios, aka the "Hollywood of the East", has produced large numbers of Cantonese and Mandarin films of numerous genres since 1950s. "Entertainment first" was always the mortif in Shaw's productions. One of its important contributions to Hong Kong cinema is the grooming of filmic talents both on and behind the stage. To film buffs, the most unforgettable is probably its galaxy of stars like Linda Lin Dai, Betty Loh Tih, Ivy Ling Po, Cheng Pei-pei, Lily Ho, Li Ching, Jenny Hu, Jimmy Wang Yu, David Chiang, Ti Lung, Yueh Hua, Peter Chen Hou...

From April 8 to June 1, film buffs will be able to enjoy on the big screen 36 Shaw's film classics of different styles produced during different eras in the Hong Kong Film Archive's (HKFA) upcoming programme "Shaws on Screen". To complement the screenings, there will be various activities including a two-month exhibition "Shaws Galaxy of Stars", related seminars and publication of a new Archive book "The Shaw Screen: A Preliminary Study". It will be a rare opportunity for audiences and researchers to appreciate and study the golden age of Shaw.

This special retrospective is organised by the HKFA of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department with the ardent support of Celestial Pictures Ltd. and Shaw Brothers (HK) Ltd. Twenty-three Shaw titles made in the 60s and 70s are provided by the courtesy of Celestial Pictures Ltd., with some titles in new prints or restored version. These titles will be showcased during the 27th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) from April 8 to 23 at the HKFA Cinema and the Hong Kong Science Museum Lecture Hall as a contribution to the HKIFF.

The second section of the retrospective will continue after the HKIFF to screen, from April 25 to June 1, a number of classics including 13 Shaw titles from the Archive's collection. The titles were the early works made in 50s and 60s by directors Li Hanxiang, Tao Qin, Chow Sze-luk and Lo Cheng as well as Cantonese features starring the "Jewel of Shaw", Patricia Lam Fung, offering audiences a glimpse of the early Shaw productions and the allure of this 60s matinee idol.

With sections into the period and contemporary, the luminous free-of-charge exhibition "Shaws Galaxy of Stars, held at the HKFA Exhibition Hall from April 4 to June 1, will feature nearly 70 Shaw's glamorous stars. Film buffs will have an opportunity to review the stars' most glorious times and reminisce on the evergreen beauty Li Lihua, the cinema queen Linda Lin Dai, the classic beauty Betty Loh Tih, Yellow Plum Queen Ivy Ling Po, the women killer Yan Jun, the dandy emperor Chao Lei, comical Peter Chen Hou and the romantic hero Jimmy Wang Yu. Moreover, participants can buy the exhibition catalogue which features close-ups on the Shaw stars.

Shaw films embody a collective memory of the generation growing up in the 50s and 60s. The new publication "The Shaw Screen: A Preliminary Study", in Chinese and English editions, explores the working of film genres, the studio and star systems inside the Shaw film empire and offers a window to re-examine the interaction between films and time.

In addition to screenings, exhibition, catalogue and new publication, a series of "Shaws on Screen" seminars will be held at the HKFA on April 12, May 10 and 24. Film critics, Shaw stars and crew will be invited to discuss about the early Shaw style, productions and Patricia Lam Fung's image and performance. Admission is free. All seminars will be conducted in Cantonese while "Melodrama & Martial Arts - The Shaw Style" (April 12) will have abridged English interpretation.

The 23 classics being showcased during the HKIFF offer a multitude of genres, ranging from romance, musical, martial arts to melodramas. Films that starred Linda Lin Dai include "The Kingdom and the Beauty"(1959), which won the Best Picture in the Asian Pacific Film Festival, the superb popular romance "Love Without End"(1961) and the sprawling romantic epic "The Blue and the Black" Part I & II(1966) as well as director Yueh Feng's spectacular film "The Last Woman of Shang". Other notable romantic titles being shown are Jenny Hu's screen debut "Till the End of Time"(1966) which also marks the first solo act by composer Joseph Koo and "Hong Kong Nocturne"(1966) which is a campy mix of wild music and melodrama starring Lily Ho and Cheng Pei-pei.

When talking about Shaw's martial art classics, one cannot miss the late film masters Chang Cheh and King Hu. Five representative works of director Cheng will be screened, including his masterpiece "Golden Swallow"(1968) which starred Jimmy Wang Yu, the action feature "Have Sword Will Travel"(1969), one of Shaw's significant productions "The Heroic Ones"(1970), as well as the renowned "Vengeance"(1970) and "Blood Brothers"(1973). Director King Hu's "Come Drink With Me"(1966) is a unique style of action choreography.

Other martial art classics include Hsu Cheng-hung's realistic and violent combat "Temple of the Red Lotus"(1965), Kung Fu master Lau Kar-leung's "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin"(1978), and Ching Kong's outstanding feature "The Twelve Golden Medallions"(1970).

Not to be missed are legendary director Li Hanxiang's prestigious production "The Empress Dowager"(1975) and a landmark in Hong Kong's erotic cinema "The Golden Lotus"(1974). Chor Yuen is another notable director of Shaw Studios. Three of his works will be shown. They are "Killer Clans" in which Chor Yuen paved the way for the martial arts suspense thriller as another mainstream for Shaw's productions in the 70s, the "Intimate Confessions of A Chinese Courtesan"(1972) which is considered a breakthrough attempt from Hong Kong's mainstream cinema and the "The Lizard"(1972), the last film for Chan Po-chu before she retired.

Other highlights are "Kidnap"(1974) which is based on the notorious kidnap case, the "Three Wolves" and "Big Brother Cheng"(1975), which depicts how the urban crusader leads the grass-root citizens in challenging the underworld.

All above films have English and Chinese subtitles. Tickets for "Shaws On Screen" are priced at $30. Half-price concessionary tickets are available for senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Ticket arrangements for films shown during the HKIFF will follow those of the Festival, with postal booking from March 6 to 17. Internet booking can be made at www.urbtix.gov.hk. Counter sales will start from March 26 at all URBTIX outlets. Tickets for the second part of the retrospective will also be on sale from March 26.

Detailed information and various discounts during the HKIFF can be obtained in the 27th HKIFF booking folder distributed at all URBTIX outlets, or in the "Shaw on Screen" promotional leaflet available early March. Enquiries can be made at 2734 2900 or browse the website: www.lcsd.gov.hk/fp, www.hkiff.org.hk.

End/Tuesday, March 4, 2003

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