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Classics from renowned Chinese film directors Shen Fu and Shui Hua

The work of two renowned Chinese film masters, Shen Fu and Shui Hua, including "Myriads of Lights", which was voted one of the Best 100 Chinese Motion Pictures by the 24th Hong Kong Film Awards, will showcase at the Cinema of the Hong Kong Film Archive from October 4 to 15 and at the Lecture Hall of the Hong Kong Space Museum from October 16 to 30.

Born in 1905, when Chinese cinema came into being, director Shen Fu was named one of the Best Directors at the Chinese Film Century Awards in 1995. Director Shui Hua, who also received a Best Director award in the same year, made only seven films. Each piece of his work is artistically faultless and rich in meaning, earning the admiration of later filmmakers, including director Tian Zhuangzhuang.

Presented by the Film Programmes Office of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and curated by Mr Law Wai-ming, the second series "Repertory Cinema 2005" will feature "China in the Past—Shen Fu and Shui Hua" next month to celebrate the Centennial of Chinese Cinema. Films of the British New Wave will be featured in "Repertory Cinema 2005 — programme 3" in December.

The films to be screened include Shen Fu's "Myriads of Lights", "Li Shizhen", "Hope in the World" and "Spring Forever", and Shui Hua's "The Shop of Lin's Family", "The White-haired Girl", "Eternity in Flames", "Regret for the Past", "A Revolutionary Family" and "The Earth".

To supplement the screenings, a seminar, "China in the Past – Shen Fu & Shui Hua", is scheduled at 4.30pm on October 16 at the Lecture Hall of the Hong Kong Space Museum. The seminar will be conducted in Cantonese. Admission is free.

Growing up in a poor family, director Shen had to stop his education before finishing high school. At the age of 19, he became an actor at Tianjin Bohai Film Company where he wrote, directed and acted in a short comedy, "The Big Leather Bag" (1926). Later he joined Shanghai's Lianhua Studio where he worked with many renowned directors such as Fei Mu, Zhu Shilin and Sun Yu, and began his career in the film industry.

After the war, Shen joined Kunlun Film Company where he reached the peak of his career. "Myriads of Lights" marked the summit of his creative life. The film, "Story of an Old Soldier" became China's first wide-screen colour film and won him the Special Prize at the First Moscow International Film Festival.

The opening film, "Myriads of Lights" (1948), is generally regarded as one of China's most representative modern films. Using simple skills and flagrant contrasts, Shen vividly depicts the lives and characters of ordinary people in the metropolitan city of Shanghai. By highlighting the conflicts among individuals, families and the society, his criticism of the society is scathing.

With an impeccable performance from Zhao Dan, "Li Shizhen" (1956) portrays the life of a doctor who has both a benevolent mind and heart, is not intimidated by power.

With the War of Resistance Against Japan as the background, "Hope in the World" (1949) portrays the difficulties of life in occupied Shanghai. Breaking through the stereotypes, Shen uses characters to spur the story into action and makes a powerful film.

Another well-known film, "Spring Forever" (1959), depicts the lives of several women living in Jixiang Lane in Shanghai in 1958 and seeks to demonstrate the merits and wisdom of women in the Great Leap Forward Era.

Born in Nanjing in 1916, Shui Hua entered Fudan University in Shanghai in 1933. He performed with different drama societies and joined the Second Anti-Japanese Drama Troupe after his study in Japan. It was not until 1949 that he switched from drama to film.

His work is always filled with profound literary flavour and humanistic spirit. His first picture, "The White-haired Girl" (1950), a dramatic story based on the well-known namesake musical was awarded the Special Prize at the 6th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival of Czechoslovakia and the Outstanding Film Award, the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China 1956.

Most of Shui's works earned him awards in Mainland China and overseas."The Shop of Lin's Family" (1959), adapted from Mao Dun's novel, is the one that is most highly acclaimed. Director Shui uses various contrasts to show the contradictory personalities of the small shop owner and demonstrates realistically the plight of ordinary people who live in the gaps of society. The film won the Special Jury Prize at the 12th Figueira Da Foz International Film Festival of Portugal 1983.

Both adapted from Chinese literature, "A Revolutionary Family" (1960), and "Regret for the Past" (1981), have won various awards. "A Revolutionary Family" won the Best Actress Award in the 2nd Moscow International Film Festival 1961 and the Best Screenplay Award in the 1st Hundred Flowers Awards 1962.

Different from Shui's previous films, "Regret for the Past" is permeated with introspection and criticism in the then literary wave of soul-searching. The film won the Best Cinematographer and the Best Film Editing Awards at the 2nd Golden Rooster Awards 1982 and the Outstanding Film Award given by the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China in 1981.

Not to be missed are "Eternity in Flames" (1965), which is regarded as one of the "red" classic films, and "The Earth" (1954), in which the director makes use of confrontational characters to underscore the conflicts of interest between society and individuals.

All films are in Putonghua. "Myriads of Lights" and "The Shop of Lin's Family" will have English 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. 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 browse . Reservations can be made by phone on 2734 9009 or on the Internet at .

Ends/Thursday, September 8, 2005

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