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Roots of Cinema revolution started at "British New Wave of the 60s"

Eleven award-winning films from six British New Wave directors will be showcased in a new programme, “British New Wave of the 60s”.

They are Tony Richardson's“Look Back in Anger”, “A Taste of Honey” and “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”; Jack Clayton's“Room at the Top” and “The Innocents”; Karel Reisz's“Saturday Night and Sunday Morning”; John Schlesinger's“A Kind of Loving” and “Darling”; Lindsay Anderson's“This Sporting Life” and “If…” and Richard Lester's“The Knack… And How to Get It”.

The films will be shown at the Cinema of the Hong Kong Film Archive from December 2 to 11 and at the Lecture Hall of the Hong Kong Space Museum from December 8 to 18.

Presented by the Film Programmes Office of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and curated by Mr Law Wai-ming, “Repertory Cinema 2005” introduces world film classics to the local audiences. “British New Wave of the 60s” is the third series, following the works of the French film master Alain Resnais and the Chinese directors Shen Fu and Shui Hua.

To supplement the screenings, a seminar, “British New Wave of the 60s”, is scheduled at 4.15pm on December 18 at the Lecture Hall of the Space Museum. Admission is free and it will be conducted in Cantonese.

The disparity between rich and poor was a legacy of post-World War II Britain. Working-class characters in British cinema were largely used for comic effect. In 1947, Lindsay Anderson established the magazine “Sequence”, which lambasted British films, seven years before Francois Truffaut wrote his treatise, “A Certain Tendency in French Cinema”, blasting the French film industry.

Anderson stated that the most important thing about film was that it could let people create freely. He organised numerous cinematic activities in the name of Free Cinema, finding support from Tony Richardson and Karel Reisz. British film culture was transformed, paving the way for the “angry” generation’s new wave of cinema.

In 1948, Anderson began his documentary career, and was awarded the short documentary prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1957. Richardson adapted John Osborne's drama, “Look Back in Anger” to film in 1959, marking the beginning of a cinematic wave that started at the same time as its French counterpart.

The British New Wave was short-lived and had virtually died out by 1963. The poor man's story was soon replaced by the tale of the newly rich. Yet it was an age of diversified prosperity. Anderson's realist social concern, Lester's casual youthful rage, the Beatles and Rolling Stones mania…

The opening film, “Look Back in Anger” (1959), is a representative film of the British New Wave. Richard Burton's portrayal of an angry young man is regarded as a symbol of the angry post-war generation. Richardson uses dramatic interior scenes to highlight the domestic violence and the young intellectuals’ miserable life.

Also directed by Richardson, “A Taste of Honey” (1961) is adapted from a namesake play and “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” (1962) is regarded as the companion piece of “Rebel Without a Cause”. They are about the dissolute life of a pregnant high school girl and the tragic life of a talented long distance runner.

“A Taste of Honey” won six prizes at the British Academy Film Awards, Cannes Film Festival and Golden Globe Awards. “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” was awarded the Most Promising Newcomer Award at the British Academy Film Awards in 1962.

Generally viewed as the trailblazer of the British New Wave, “Room at the Top” (1959) boldly broke the British cinema's taboo on sexual passion in terms of content and theme.

Clayton's first feature won the Best Foreign Film Award at Golden Globe Awards and the Best Film at the British Academy Film Awards in 1959. Simone Signoret won the Best Actress Awards at the Academy Awards and Cannes Film Festival and also the Best Foreign Actress at the British Academy Film Awards.

In “The Innocents” (1961), Clayton uses surrealistic visual effects and unexpected plots to recreate the fear of human beings in the material world. The film won the Best Director Award at National Board of Review in 1961.

“Saturday Night and Sunday Morning” (1960) turned Reisz into the hot figure representative of the British New Wave. The film features the monotonous nine-to-five mechanical life of a factory worker, who regards his co-worker's beautiful wife as a game and beer as his indispensable companion. It won the Best Film, the Best Actress and the Most Promising Newcomer Awards at the British Academy Film Awards.

The girlfriend is pregnant, should they get married? Schlesinger's first feature “A Kind of Loving” (1962) won him the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival and the Best Film Award at the British Academy Film Awards, as well as the fame. His later work, “Darling”, (1965) showing the selfishness of men and women won nine awards at the Academy Awards, the British Academy Film Awards and Golden Globe Awards.

Anderson's“This Sporting Life” (1963), portraying the loneliness of the rugby hero, is a classic of the British New Wave. Richard Harris won the Best Actor Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Being a scathing satire on the traditional British education system, Anderson's “If…” (1968) is a classic in the British film history, and was awarded the Golden Palm Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Using jump editing to capture the bizarre phenomena of Swinging London, Lester's “The Knack… and How to Get It” (1965) reflects the real situation of the two sexes and pokes fun at city men and women. The film won the Golden Palm Prize and Technical Grand Prize – Special Mention at the Cannes Film Festival.

All films are in English, “Look Back in Anger”, “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning” and “This Sporting Life” have Chinese and English 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 six 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, November 29, 2005
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