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Counter Bookings For Chinese Poet Director and Pearl River Delta

Film settings in the 1963 blockbuster “Seventy-Two Tenants” have inspired many Hong Kong movies including the recent “Kung Fu Hustle”. Maggie Cheung won the Best Actress award for playing the legendary China’s Garbo Ruan Lingyu, film buffs will soon witness Ruan’s lively performance in the film “The Little One”. The two films and many archival treasures will be screened at the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) from March 22.

Counter bookings for HKFA’s new programmes, “Sun Yu: Poet of Cinema” and “Pearl River Delta: Movie.Culture.Life” starts tomorrow (March 17) at all URBTIX outlets.

To celebrate the Centennial of Chinese Cinema, HKFA presents the two programmes as a contribution to the 29th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF).

Ten of director Sun’s famous works will be shown from March 22 to 31 while the series on “Pearl River Delta” will be shown from April 1 to May 29 to depict the lifestyle and culture of Southern China. All screenings will be held at the Cinema of the HKFA.

With his studies on drama, photography and cinematography in the United States, director Sun brought new techniques and helped propel Chinese cinema into the first Golden Age. His films are full of conviction, romantic lyricism, humour and youth passion that won him applause and the name of “Poet of the Cinema”.

With the assistance of China Film Archive, the films selected are precious films that epitomize the Gold Age of Chinese Cinema and some of his rarely seen works.

Sun’s five silent movies will have musical accompaniment from Ernesto Maurice Corpus. The legendary actress Ruan Lingyu puts on a great performance from a young woman to 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 then played a modern Chinese woman in “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 film “The Life of Wu Xun”, Sun 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.

The screenings of “The Life of Wu Xun” during the HKIFF have been cancelled due to a delay in shipment. The screening at 2.30pm on March 25 will be replaced by “Early Sights of Guangdong & Hong Kong” and the screening at 7.15pm on March 27 will be replaced by “The Little One”. Patrons with tickets can choose to refund or use their tickets for the rescheduled films.

Guangzhou and Hong Kong had been sharing a common form of entertainment for a long time, notably Cantonese Opera and Cantonese language films. In the “Pearl River Delta” series, 45 film programmes with productions from 1898 to 2004, a multi-media exhibition and a related publication will showcase the land, lifestyle and folklore of the people of Pearl River Delta.

Highlights of the film series include “Early Sights of Guangdong & Hong Kong” (1898-1940) and “Independent Vision of Pearl River Delta” (2000-2004) showing changes of the region while “Roar of the People” (1941) and “Dawn Must Come” (1950) document the harsh lives during the Japanese invasion.

Films that show the folklore traditions unique of the region include “Seventy-Two Tenants” (1963) with its bustling Guangzhou housing compound, “The Kid” (1950) with its comic stall and the young Bruce Lee playing the role of an orphan. The 10-year-old Lee shines as a bright star.

It is a legend that the Wong Fei-hung series has produced about 100 films. The first of the series “The Story of Wong Fei-hung, Part I” (1949) and another film “Wong Fei-hung: The Invincible Lion-Dancer” (1968) depict the martial arts master’s Confucian values of tolerance, benevolence and discipline.

Not to be missed are some of the outstanding films produced by Guangzhou’s Pearl River Studios in the 1980s and 1990s including “Yamaha Fish Stall” (1984), “Dr Sun Yatsen” (1986), “Swan Song” (1985), “Sunshine and Showers” (1987) and “The Village of Widows” (1989).

With the city undergoing reforms and change, “Long Arm of the Law” (1984), “Her Fatal Ways” (1990) and “The Umbrella Story” (1995) showcase the views, problems and also the interest of the roots of the city and people. 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.

To supplement the screenings on Pearl River Delta, “The Hong Kong–Guangdong Film Connection” will be published and a multi-media exhibition showing various aspects of Southern culture will run from March 18 to June 5 at the Exhibition Hall of the HKFA. Admission is free.

Two seminars will be held respectively on April 16 and May 15 with discussions on “Pearl River Delta: Popular Culture & Film” and “Pearl River Delta: Humanities & Sociological Perspective”. The former is conducted in Cantonese while the May 15 seminar is conducted in Cantonese and English.

Tickets for both film programmes are priced at $30. Half-price concessionary tickets are available for senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Reservations can be made at 2734 9009 or on the Internet at .

Programme information can be obtained in the Hong Kong Film Archive’s “ProFolio” (Issue 26). For programme enquiries, call 2734 2900, 2739 2139 or browse the website .

Ends/Wednesday, March 16, 2005
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