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Exhibition showcases link between cinema and literature

Movies inspired by books are common fare in today's cinema. There's "Lord of the Rings", "Master and Commander" and "Mystic River" - not to mention the ever-popular "Harry Potter" series. But the link between film and literature is not a modern phenomenon. Nor is it exclusive to Hollywood. Many Hong Kong movies of the fifties and sixties were also inspired by Chinese and Western literature.

Taking film buffs on a sentimental journey through these links between Hong Kong cinema and literature, a multimedia exhibition, "Novel Drama Melodrama", will be held at the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) from tomorrow (April 9). The exhibition will run in conjunction with the screening of 40 Cantonese and Mandarin classics.

Charming characters in Chinese literary works - Cao Yu's "Sunrise", "Thunderstorm", "Wilderness" and Ba Jin's "Wintry Night" and "Family" - were given a new lease of life on the silver screen. And with the differences in culture and values, Cantonese filmmakers gave their own interpretations of Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina", Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations" and Guy de Maupassant's "Necklace".

Cantonese films are known for their earthy qualities, but this retrospective and exhibition show some other aspects of the genre: the glittering high-society scene, the seductive Mui Yee, the charming Hung Sin Nui, and the bold and independent woman played by Cantonese cinema's prima donna Pak Yin.

The exhibition, which will run until July 1, will trace the literary origins of Hong Kong melodrama of the fifties and sixties through pictures, artefacts and moving images with interesting interviews of some Cantonese cinema masters. Patrons will also be able to read old copies of film magazines and film scripts in a cosy reading zone.

The private collection of film notes and photo albums of Cantonese film director Lee Sun-fung will also be on display. As a young man influenced by the new culture in China, Lee loved theatre and was also heavily influenced by Western drama. He directed many classic films including masterpieces adapted from literary works by Cao Yu, Ba Jin and Tolstoy.

Presented by the Hong Kong Film Archive of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, a series of Cantonese and Mandarin classics are being showcased in "Novel Drama Melodrama". Twenty-five Cantonese movies are being screened during the 28th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) from now until April 30, and 15 Mandarin classics will be featured in the second instalment from May 1 to June 13.

Highlights of the Cantonese classics include director Lee's "It was A Cold Winter Night" (1955) and "Anna" (1955), both starring Pak Yin; the classic "In the Face of Demolition" (1953) by director Lee Tit; "An Orphan's Tragedy" (1955), adapted from Dickens' "Great Expectations"; and "Love and Passion" (1964) by Wong Yiu.

The 15 Mandarin works include "A Widow's Tears" (1956), which features the charming Hsia Moon at her best; "Garden of Repose" (1964) by director Zhu Shilin; the comedy, "The Story of a Fur Coat" (1956), starring Grace Chang and Peter Chen Ho; Li Han-hsiang's directorial debut "Blood in Snow" (1956), and "An Unfaithful Woman" (1949), which is based on Tolstoy's "Resurrection".

Audiences can also watch the Cantonese and Mandarin versions of "Sunrise" and "Thunderstorm" by different directors.

Tickets priced at $30 are available at all URBTIX outlets. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients.

For detailed information, please see the Hong Kong Film Archive's booklet, Profolio (issue 21).

For programme information call 2734 2900, 2739 2139 or visit . Reservations can be made by phone on 2734 9009 or on the internet at .

Ends/Thursday, April 8, 2004
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