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April
HKFA exhibition pays tribute to Shaw's galaxy of stars

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Are you tempted by a trip back in time to the heyday of the Shaw Brothers studios and its glamorous galaxy of stars?


From tomorrow (April 4) until June 1, the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) Exhibition Hall will be transformed into a gigantic collage assembled out of the images of about 70 stars who graced our screens from the 1950s to the 1970s.

It's a chance to see the likes of Evergreen Li Lihua, cinema queen Linda Lin Dai, classic beauty Betty Loh Ti, Yellow Plum Queen Ivy Ling Po, lady killer Yan Jun, comedian Peter Chen Hou and action hero Jimmy Wang Yu, all assembled under one roof.

The exhibition is part of the Shaws on Screen retrospective. Admission is free.

The most eye-catching features of the collage are some of the most famous Shaw backdrops -- the mythical world of martial arts populated by swordsmen and knight-ladies, the lushly decorated "palace chamber", the terrace rendezvous in the popular "huangmei diao" musical films, romantic nightclubs, the town and country locations, and the "wicked" Hong Kong of the '70s.

A catalogue of the exhibition containing an up-close look at the great Shaw stars is available for $35.

Shaw Brothers made its influence felt over 30 years, grooming a host of talents both in front of the camera and behind it.

In the early 1950s, its productions featured ex-Shanghai stars like Li Lihua, Yan Jun and Zhou Manhua. Its Cantonese unit recruited actors like Patricia Lam Fung, Mak Kay, Patrick Lung Kong and Lui Kay. The establishment of modern studio facilities in Hong Kong by Run Run Shaw in the early 1960s greatly boosted the number and quality of film productions in putonghua.

To increase its competitiveness in the Southeast Asian market, Shaw Brothers weighed in with big-budget historical epics including Diau Charn, The Kingdom and the Beauty and Love Eterne. These productions boosted the careers of performers like Betty Loh Ti, dandy emperor Chao Lei and Ivy Ling Po, known for her cross-dressing roles.

The Southern Drama Group established in the 1960s, nurtured such talents as Cheng Pei-pei, Chin Ping, Yueh Hua and Li Ching. Meanwhile, artists such as Lily Ho, Ching Li, Chen Szu-chia were recruited in Taiwan.

The Hong Kong Film Archive will host seminars on different aspects of the Shaw Brothers productions on April 12, May 10 and May 24.

Film critics, former Shaw stars and production staff will discuss the early Shaw style, the various productions and Patricia Lam Fung's image and performances. All seminars will be conducted in Cantonese. ( Melodrama & Martial Arts - The Shaw Style, scheduled for April 12, will have abridged English translation.)

Shaw films embody the collective memory of the generations who grew up in Hong Kong in the 50s and 60s. A new publication, The Shaw Screen: A Preliminary Study, available in Chinese and English editions, examines the different film genres, the activities of the studio and its star system. Priced at $130, the book is on sale at the Hong Kong Film Archive.

Twenty-three Shaw titles from the '60s and '70s -- including some new prints and restored versions -- will be showcased as part of the 27th Hong Kong International Film Festival, April 8-23. Screenings will take place at the HKFA Cinema and the Hong Kong Science Museum Lecture Hall.

The films, all with English subtitles, include the popular romatic titles Love Without End and The Blue and the Black featuring Linda Lin Dai; Jenny Hu's screen debut Till the End of Time; legendary director Li Hanxiang's The Empress Dowager; Chor Yuen's Killer Clans; Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan, a lesbian-themed thriller laced with martial arts; The Golden Lotus, based on taboo masterpiece Jin Ping Mei; and martial arts classics from Chang Cheh and King Hu .

The second part of of the retrospective will be held from April 25 to June 1, featuring Shaw titles from the '50s and '60s, including many that will be shown publicly for the first time in years.

These archival treasures include six Cantonese features starring "The Jewel of Shaw", Patricia Lam Fung; director Li Hanxiang's early works A Maiden in Distress and A Mellow Spring; and Tao Qin's The Golden Trumpet and Beyond the Grave, starring Lucilla You Min.

Lo Chen's Kiss for Sale and Her Sister's Keeper and Mid-nightmare, starring Betty Loh Tih, have English subtitles.

The retrospective is organised by the Hong Kong Film Archive of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, with the generous support of Celestial Pictures Ltd and Shaw Brothers (HK) Ltd.

Tickets for Shaws On Screen showings cost $30. Half-price concessionary tickets are available for senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients.

Programme information and details of various discounts can be obtained from the Hong Kong International Film Festival programme available at all URBTIX outlets or the Shaw on Screen promotional booklet.

For information call 2734 2900 or visit www.lcsd.gov.hk/fp. Bookings can be made on the Internet at www.urbtix.gov.hk and by phone at 2734 9009.

End/Thursday, April 3, 2003

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