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Ann Hui's supernatural films earn HKFA retrospective


When it comes to maintaining the integrity of her personal vision against the overwhelming commercialism of the Hong Kong film industry, no one is more steadfast than director Ann Hui.

The strange visions of the human world contained in her supernatural films are the inspiration for "The Yins & Yangs of Ann Hui", scheduled for August 15-24 at the Cinema of Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA), organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD).

The programme consists of three films -- "The Secret", "The Spooky Bunch" (in a newly restored version) and "Visible Secret".

According to the Chinese literary classic "Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio", ghosts are sometimes more human and dignified than their mortal counterparts. In Hui's three ghost films, the subject matter is not the dead, but the undead. These supernatural tales are an entertaining and stimulating way to explore the extremes of human sentiment and certain cultural values.

Besides the screenings, an exhibition of set-design materials and behind-the-scene photos will be installed on the first floor of the HKFA.

And on August 17 at the HKFA Cinema, Ann Hui, art director Rebecca Lee and actor-producer Tina Lau will share their experiences in the seminar "Encounter with Ann Hui" after the screening of "The Spooky Bunch". The seminar will be conducted in Cantonese. Admission is free.

Of the three films that comprise "The Yins & Yangs of Ann Hui", "The Spooky Bunch" (1980) has not been shown in public for many years. This first showing of the newly restored print is by courtesy of Josephine Siao, the producer and leading actress of the film.

"The Spooky Bunch" enjoys one-of-a-kind status in Hong Kong. That's because its entire creative team -- director, scriptwriter, art director and producer -- was female, and because its box-office success gave rise to the action-comedy-thriller genre that the likes of Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung have since made famous.

A story on an opera troupe bedeviled by a ghostly platoon, the film is filled with images of winding streets and fusty interiors on Cheung Chau, illuminated by intriguing glimpses of folkloric traditions like the peculiar backstage customs of Cantonese opera, seances and religious rituals.

Hui's debut feature "The Secret" (1979) heralded the 1980s New Wave Movement and displays her sure grasp of genre. With a fantastic presentation of rhythm and mood, Hui transforms a homicide case into a psycho-thriller with spooky, supernatural overtones.

Two decades later, she revisited the horror genre in "Visible Secret" (2001), employing a cast of new screen idols, including Eason Chan, Shu Qi and Sam Lee. Yet the film's sentiments are still rooted in the past, as evidenced by the old settings of Western District and Cheung Chau. The colour and mood are minutely controlled and humour slips in at surprising moments.

Tickets priced at $40 per screening are now available at all URBTIX outlets.

"Arts Care" discounts apply. Patrons can enjoy a 20% discount for each purchase of four to seven tickets and a 40% discount for each purchase of eight or more tickets.

Theses discounts are in addition to the 50% discount for full-time students, senior citizens, people with disabilities and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients, and the 10% discount for Friends of LCSD performing venues.

The Arts Care Scheme also includes Hotel and Food and Beverage Offers. Information can be obtained from LCSD performing venues and the Arts Care website:

For programme information call 2734 2900 or browse the website Reservations can be made by phone at 2734 9009 or on the internet at

End/Wednesday, July 30, 2003

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