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Special showings to celebrate 100 years of Chinese cinema

The bustling housing compound of Stephen Chow's "Kung Fu Hustle", comic stalls, the sounds of a song from an old teahouse and the legendary martial arts master Wong Fei-hung. Such are the images of southern China that will be recaptured in the Hong Kong Film Archive's (HKFA's) new programme, "Pearl River Delta: Movie. Culture. Life".

The special showings will be held from April to May as part of the Centennial of Chinese Cinema celebrations.

Guangzhou and Hong Kong have long shared a common form of entertainment, notably Cantonese Opera and Cantonese Language films. Forty-five film programmes from 1898 to 2004, a multi-media exhibition with related publications and CD-ROMs will showcase the land, lifestyle, and folklore of the people of the Pearl River Delta.

With the assistance of the China Film Archive, the HKFA will also present "Sun Yu: Poet of Cinema" as part of the Centennial of Chinese Cinema. Eleven of his works, including "Daybreak", "Wild Rose", "The Little One", "The Queen of Sport" and "Big Road" that epitomise the Golden Age of Chinese Cinema, and some of his rarely seen works made after 1949, will be screened.

The 11 films of Sun and 15 film programmes of the "Pearl River Delta" series will be screened during this year's Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) from March 22 to April 6 while other film programmes of the "Pearl River Delta" will continue to be shown from April 8 to May 29.

All screenings will be held at the Cinema of the HKFA and many of the films shown during the HKIFF are restored copies.

A two-month exhibition showing various aspects of Southern culture will be held from March 18 to June 5 at the Exhibition Hall of the HKFA to complement the screenings. Admission is free.

The HKFA's new publication, "The Hong Kong–Guangdong Film Connection" will be published at the end of March in English and Chinese editions. Renowned scholars and film critics will offer their accounts of the people and places during the post-war years that redefine the cinemas of Hong Kong and Guangdong.

Researchers and scholars from Beijing and Hong Kong will also discuss the poetic style of Sun's films and their significance today at the free seminar "Sun Yu: Filmic & Personal Style" at 4.30pm on March 26 at the Cinema of the HKFA. The seminar will be conducted in Putonghua and Cantonese.

Chinese cinema began in 1905, but two decades later, director Sun was already making films that helped propel it into the first Golden Age. A great lover of literature, he was influenced by the May 4th Movement with its affirmations on science and democracy. His studies in the United States on drama, photography and cinematography enabled him to introduce new techniques to Chinese Cinema.

His fresh approach with dramatic structure told with conviction, romantic lyricism, humour and youthful passion won him much applause and the name, "Poet of the Cinema". He used his films to criticise social injustice, yet he always aimed for realism and humanism rather than overtly emotional propaganda.

Sun's five silent movies will have musical accompaniment. China's Garbo, Ruan Lingyu puts on a great performance as a young woman who matures into an old lady in "The Little One" (1933). In "Wild Rose" (1932), Sun explores the theme of the innocence of the countryside against the corrupt city. Actress Li Lili became an instant sensation after her debut in "Revenge by the Volcano" (1932). She played a modern Chinese woman in the film "Daybreak" (1933) and a tailor-made sports celebrity in "The Queen of Sport" (1934).

Passionate, expansive and exciting, "Big Road" (1935) is an entertaining epic while in "The Arrival of Springtime" (1937), Sun created a human drama on the cost of war.

Despite being denounced in 1951 for "The Life of Wu Xun", Sun never gave up and continued to make three more films, "Brave the Wind and Waves" (1957), "The Legend of Lu Ban" (1958) and "Lady Qin" (1960). All films have English subtitles except "The Arrival of Springtime", "Lady Qin" and "The Legend of Lu Ban", which are in Putonghua.

Highlights of the Pearl River Delta film series during the HKIFF include "Early Sights of Guangdong & Hong Kong" (1898-1940) and "Independent Vision of Pearl River Delta" (2000-2004). The narrative and setting in "Seventy-Two Tenants" (1963) has had a great influence on many films, and traces of it can be seen in the recent "Kung Fu Hustle".

"The Story of Wong Fei-hung, Part I" (1949) is the first in a series of the legendary martial arts master films and "Wong Fei-hung: The Invincible Lion-Dancer" (1968) is a typical film on Wong, a champion of tolerance and compassion with his beliefs put to test by his arch-nemesis, as always played by Cantonese actor Sek Kin.

Not to be missed is "The Kid" (1950) with the young Bruce Lee playing the role of an orphan. The 10-year-old Lee shines as a bright star. Director Tang Shuxuan's "China Behind" (1974) is the first Chinese language film on the Cultural Revolution before China revised its verdict of the mass euphoria.

Other films that have English subtitles are "Roar of the People" (1941), "Dr Sun Yatsen" (1986), "The Village of Widows" (1988), "Swan Song" (1985) and "Sunshine and Showers" (1987). "Dawn Must Come" (1950) is in Cantonese and "True Hearted" (1992) is in Putonghua.

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

Postal booking for films at the HKIFF will be available from February 26 to March 8. Internet bookings at will start on Saturday (February 26). Counter bookings are available at all URBTIX outlets and phone reservations (2734 9009) for all films including the second series of the "Pearl River Delta" programmes will start on March 17.

Detailed information and various discounts during the HKIFF can be obtained in the 29th HKIFF booking folder or the "Profolio" (issue 26 available in mid-March). For programme enquiries call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900 or browse the websites: or .

Ends/Thursday, February 24, 2005
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