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A playground of film magic at Hong Kong Film Archive

Without using CG special effects or super intelligent computer, how can one cover an entire village with a modern glass top or turn the Victoria Harbour cityscape into a futuristic 2046-world? With mirrors, miniature sets, barrels and optical tricks, the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) will take audiences through an adventurous journey in the tricky wonderland.

Presented by the HKFA of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the new programme "Tricky Wonderland" will reveal the secrets of film tricks. An interactive exhibition will be held at the Exhibition Hall of the HKFA from December 10 to March 6, 2005.

In addition, special effects film classics including " 2001: A Space Odyssey", "Metropolis", "Aliens" and "The Magic Cup" will be screened from December 10 to January 8, 2005, at the HKFA. Audiences can also try the film tricks at workshops given by overseas experts.

Even though Hong Kong has been adopting many trick methods in filmmaking as early as 1930s, documents about these attempts are very rare. Through interviews with film veterans, names like Wan brothers, "props king" Lo Ki-ping, renowned cameramen James Wong Howe and Ho Look-ying became linked with various special effects filming.

In recognition of the forefathers' endeavours, the HKFA works with the Studio Five within the DEFA Studio in Babelsberg, Germany to rebuild some classic "film tricks" settings in the exhibition.

The HKFA exhibition hall will be turned into a playground of film magic where visitors can play around with various mirror tricks like "image overlapping", "foreground models", "travelling mirror", "matte painting" and "chromakey filming". A special treat is the rebuilding of Stanley Kubrick's spaceship in "2001: A Space Odyssey" to reveal the secrets of "spaceman running without gravity".

Two workshops will be held on December 11 and 12 at the Foyer and Exhibition Hall of the HKFA. Mr Erich Gunther, who has 60 years of optical tricks experience, will conduct a workshop "Meet the Trick Cameraman" to unveil the secrets of many film tricks. In another workshop "The Magic with Glass and Minatures", matt painter Mr Holger Delfs will illustrate how to match a painted set on glass to the physical set in reality. The workshops will be conducted in German, with Cantonese translation. Course fee for each workshop is $ 50.

During the seminar on "The Development of Optical Film Tricks", another expert, Mr Uwe Fleischer, will share with the audiences the development and principles of optical film tricks. The seminar will be conducted in English, with Cantonese translation. Admission is free.

For the screenings, the opening film is Stanley Kubrick's cinematic masterpiece "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968), which still inspires young generations after more than 30 years. Special effects shooting brings the audiences into a cosmic myth that arouses thinking about universe and being. The film's most impressive set is the interior of the spaceship, where a 38-metre rotating "wheel" was built to simulate the weightlessness of outer space.

Another highlight is Fritz Lang's masterpiece on futuristic city, "Metropolis" (1927). The film involved 37,633 actors and many ground-breaking scenes and film techniques. The 2001 restored version that comes closest to capturing Lang's original version will be screened, with live music accompaniment by Ernesto Maurice Corpus.

Subsequent to Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror "Alien" (1979), James Cameron directed "Aliens" in 1986. The numerous alien creatures and high-tech weapons make the film a great sci-fi sage that influences many other films that follow.

Many Cantonese oldies also deployed special effects. "The Magic Cup" (1961) is an early attempt in using super-imposition to create scenes of a child actress with a giant and images within a cup of tea, while "Ten Brothers" (1959) is a family favorite with special effects and larger-than-life characters.

Not to be missed is the recent local film "The Twins Effect" (2003). Director Dante Lam succeeds in blending old classical vampire tales into a modern city setting via a big cast of Hong Kong stars with CG-animated kung-fu scenes. The film won the 2003 Hong Kong Film Awards in Special Effect.

The "2001:A Space Odyssey" and "Aliens" are in English, "Metropolis" has English subtitles, while "Magic Cup" and "Ten Brothers" are in Cantonese. "The Twins Effect" has English and Chinese subtitles.

Tickets priced at $40 are available at 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, please call 2739 2139 / 2734 2900 or visit the websites: / . Reservations can be made by phone on 2734 9009 or on the Internet at .

Ends/Saturday, December 4, 2004.
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