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October
Film festival showcases 15 unique movies on China's rural life
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A film festival in Hong Kong later this month will present 15 of the most representative Western China films including "The Swordsman in Double-Flag Town", "Old Well", "Red Sorghum", "King of Children" and "Ballad of the Yellow River" which have won international acclaim.

Jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the South China Film Industry Workers Union, the "Western China Film Festival" will show 30 screenings from October 15 to November 7 at the Lecture Hall of the Hong Kong Science Museum, the Cinema of the Hong Kong Film Archive and the Lecture Hall of the Hong Kong Space Museum.

The intricate relationship between man and nature has been a major focus of Western China films and through the depiction of rural life, the historic and cultural heritage of the Chinese civilisation is vividly revealed.

The stunning successes of "The Yellow Earth" in local and international cinemas together with other well-acclaimed movies have raised the status of Western China films.

Cinematographer of "The Yellow Earth" and renowned director Zhang Yimou has his unique insight on Western China films.

"We want to show how vast the sky, how deep the earth is. We want to portray the craze and power of people arising from their inborn ignorance of nature - the love, hate, toughness, fragility, naivety, kind-heartedness and unwavering pursuit of hope and light ... ," he said.

The series will open with He Ping's "The Swordsman in Double-Flag Town"(1990). A young man comes to the dusty desert village to claim his bride. Instead, he kills a rapist and provokes the wrath of the Lethal Swordsman. This film won the Film Critic Award at Berlin International Film Festival (1993), the Best 10 Chinese Films of the Hong Kong Film Awards (1992) and the Best Film at Yubari International Fantasy Film Festival, Japan (1992).

"Red Firecracker Green Firecracker" (1993) is another of He's productions. A young woman who has to behave as a man in her own factory falls in love with an itinerant artist and turns the household in turmoil. It won the Best Director, Best Art Design and Best Co-operation at Golden Rooster Awards (1994) and the Best Feature Film at Hawaii International Film Festival (1994).

A young peasant woman, unwilling to surrender to an arranged marriage, leaves her village behind for a new life in town. Will her dream come true? "The Story of Ermei" (2003) is the new release of director Wang Quan'an.

"Life" (1984) and "Old Well" (1987), both directed by Wu Tianming, gained local and international acclaim. A man with a good prospect dumps his village girlfriend for a city lover. Will the good fortune continue as he expects? "Life" was cited for the Best Feature Film and Best Score at Golden Rooster Awards (1985). With Zhang Yimou as actor and cinematographer, "Old Well" won the Best Feature Film, Best Actor FIPRESCI Special Award, Tokyo Grand Prix The Governor of Tokyo Award at Tokyo International Film Festival (1987), and Juror's Special Mention at Hawaii International Film Festival (1987).

Starring Gong Li and Jiang Wen and directed by Zhang Yimou, "Red Sorghum" (1987) won the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival (1988), the Sydney Film Critics Award at Sydney International Film Festival (1988) and Best Feature Film at Golden Rooster Awards (1988).

"The Black Cannon Incident"(1985) is director Huang Jianxin's famous work. It exposes the hypocrisy of the Party Committee and its need to "save face" at all costs. The film won the Best Feature Film at Ministry of Radio, Film & Television (1985) and the Best Actor at Golden Rooster Awards (1986).

How does a city lady help the villagers to overcome poverty? She believes that education is the only way out. A touching story, "Pretty Big Foot" (2002) won the Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Rooster Awards (2002).

Also on the theme of education, a teacher in a village school uses his own methods to teach his students and becomes their idol. "King of Children" (1987) received the Educational Contribution Awards at Cannes Film Festival (1988).

"Ballad of the Yellow River" (1989) and "The Yellow River Bends Here"(1986) tell two different stories taking place by the shore of the Yellow River. Like the winding Yellow River, people continue to experience twists and turns in the course of their life.

Not to be missed are the films directed by Zhou Youchao, including "A Woman from North Shaanxi" (1991), "Sweet Grass" (1994) and "A Tree in Desert" (1996) and "In the Wild Mountains" (1985) directed by Yan Xuexu.

All films are in Putonghua. "Life" and "Old Well" have Chinese subtitles while all other films carry both Chinese and English subtitles.

Tickets priced at $40 per screening 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 programme information call 2734 2900, 2780 5355 or 2527 7284, or visit http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/fp . Reservations can be made by phone on 2734 9009 or on the internet at http://www.urbtix.gov.hk .

Ends/Thursday, October 7, 2004.
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