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August screening for classics from French film master Resnais

French film master Alain Resnais captivated audiences with his unique camera movements, surrealistic perspective and alluring images that leave film buffs gasping in admiration.

Thirteen film classics including Resnais' award-winning films "Hiroshima, mon amour", "Last Year at Marienbad", "Muriel", "Night and Fog", "Melo", "Smoking", "No Smoking", "The Same Old Song" and his latest "Not on the Lips" will be showcased in the new programme, "Alain Resnais -- Traveling in Time" at the Cinema of the Hong Kong Film Archive from August 12 to 28 and at the Lecture Hall of the Hong Kong Science Museum from August 26 to 31.

Presented by the Film Programmes Office of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and curated by Mr Law Wai-ming, "Repertory Cinema 2005" will introduce some of the world's film classics to local audiences. Alain Resnais is the first filmmaker to be featured. Works of directors Shen Fu and Shui Hua from China and films of the British New Wave will be featured respectively in October and December.

To supplement the screenings, a seminar "Traveling in Time -- Alain Resnais' Films", is scheduled on August 27 at 4.30pm at the Cinema of the Film Archive. Admission is free and it will be conducted in Cantonese.

Born in 1922 in Vannes, France, Resnais loved going to the cinema from early childhood. He made his first 8mm film at the age of 14. When he moved to Paris for his education, he chose to take acting courses, which later had a great influence on his films. He eventually enrolled at film school when he was 21, only to drop out a year later as he found the institution too academic. He felt he benefited more from watching movies at the film archive.

At the age of 26, Resnais had already made his name with the Oscar-winning short film "Van Gogh" (1948). "Night and Fog" (1955) brought him great fame. His success at the Cannes Film Festival with "Hiroshima, mon amour" (1959) and "Last Year at Marienbad" (1961) at the Venice Film Festival established his status as an international master.

Resnais' experiments with narrative structures and blending literature and cinema have contributed significantly to filmmaking. Having won numerous awards for his films in his youth, the prolific filmmaker has continued creating masterpieces into his old age. "Not on the Lips" made in 2003 is proof of the 80-year-old director's energy and vitality.

The opening film, "Hiroshima, mon amour", Resnais' first feature film, was awarded the FIPRESCI Prize at the Cannes Film Festival 1959.

With innovative audio-visual effects, contrasting old and new footage, reality and memory, Resnais' treatment of the affair between a French actress and Japanese architect remains an enduring statement on the trauma of war.

"Last Year at Marienbad" is another exemplary film that mixes cinema and literature. With dreamlike dialogue between lovers and conventional stage performance, Resnais creates an extraordinary love story. The film won the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival 1961.

"Guernica" (1950), considered to be the blueprint for "Hiroshima, mon amour", will be screened with "Night and Fog" (1955), which won the Jean Vigo Prize, 1956. The other short film, "The Ode of Styrene" (1958), to be shown at the same screening, is an ironic metaphor about life being destroyed and distorted like styrene.

"Love Unto Death" (1984) is a romantic story wherein love and death are interwoven. It is also one of the few films in which Resnais allows events to unfold chronologically.

Extending the theme of love and death to "Melo" (1986), Resnais reproduces Henri Bernstein's famous drama with masterly stage lighting and delightful editing and camera movement. The film won the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor Awards at the Cesar Awards 1987.

Winning seven 1998 Cesar Awards -- Best Film, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Actress, Screenplay, Sound and Editing -- "The Same Old Song" (1997) is Resnais' most light-hearted and entertaining work. This wonderful musical cleverly depicts the bitter-sweet quality of love.

Also dealing with love, his latest work, "Not on the Lips", is a musical filled with laughter. The director's biting sarcasm shatters the Parisian romantic notion of love, highlighting the reality of love in a big city.

Not-to-be-missed are "Smoking" (1993) and "No Smoking" (1993), which are adapted from British playwright, Alan Ayckbourn's "Intimate Exchanges". Two actors play nine roles in the two episodes that start with the female protagonist smoking or not smoking and generate 12 endings. Both films won five Cesar Awards in 1994 including Best Film, Director, Script, Actor and Art Direction.

Other award-winning films include "Muriel" (1963), which won the Best Actress Award at the Venice Film Festival 1963. It is regarded as Resnais' most sensational film, while "My American Uncle" (1980), is both thought-provoking and widely acclaimed. Through the life of three ordinary people, a technical manager, an actress and a TV station executive, Resnais tackles the anxiety and challenges faced in daily life. The film won the Grand Jury Prize and the FIPRESCI Prize at the Cannes Film Festival 1980.

All films are in French with English subtitles. "Hiroshima, mon amour", "Last Year at Marienbad", "Muriel" and "Not on the Lips" will have Chinese subtitles.

Tickets priced at $50 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. There will be a 10% discount for each purchase of 6 to 10 tickets, and a 20% discount for each purchase of 11 or more tickets.

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

Ends/Tuesday, July 19, 2005

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