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"Moving Spaces" exhibition and screenings to show film production designs

Film set design can help create an image that is more "real" than reality for an audience. The housing complex in Stephen Chow's "Kung Fu Hustle", the grand opera house in Leslie Cheung's "The Phantom Lover", the airport in Steven Spielberg's "The Terminal", the labyrinth-like monastery in Sean Connery's "The Name of the Rose" and the war room in Stanley Kubrick's "Dr Strangelove" are examples of magnificent production designs setting the tone of the films.

The Hong Kong Film Archive's (HKFA) new programme "Moving Spaces Production Design + Film" to be held from December 9 will feature filmic spaces and film production designs with an exhibition of fascinating models, screenings and seminars.

Filmic spaces are moving spaces, creating stage-like structures for actors to enter and exit and a place of imagination for filmmakers to exercise their creative thinking. The production sets with props, accessories and scenic space help set the various scenes.

Presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) in collaboration with Goethe-Institut Hongkong and with some of the exhibits on loan from the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum for Film and Television in Berlin, the "Moving Spaces" exhibition will showcase artifacts including drawings, sketches and film set models imported worldwide and some created locally based on classic scenes in Hong Kong Films. The exhibition will be held from December 9 to March 18, 2007, at the Exhibition Hall of the HKFA, Admission is free.

The screening programme from December 9 to January 27, 2007, at the Cinema of the HKFA will feature films that draw on different production design concepts like "stage", "power", "transition", "inner life" and "labyrinth".

The 10 films to be screened are "The Phantom Lover", "Kung Fu Hustle", "Dr Strangelove", "The Empress Dowager", "The Terminal", "Sunrise", "Solo Sunny", "Red Rose White Rose", "The Name of the Rose" and "92 The Legendary La Rose Noire".

Starring Leslie Cheung, "The Phantom Lover" (1995) is a dark tale of doomed passion and enduring love. The late art director, Eddie Ma built a Gothic style gigantic opera house with an interior that held more than 1,000 people, offering meticulously crafted filming angles for director Ronny Yu to make this romantic classic.

Also on the "stage" concept, "Pig Sty Alley" that housed the many weird households in "Kung Fu Hustle" (2004) brought together images and icons from martial arts cinema old and new, blending them into a pastiche novel yet recognisable.

The production sets in Kubrick's "Dr Strangelove" (1964) and Li Han-Hsiang's "The Empress Dowager" (1975) both radiate "power" in the films. At the height of Cold War, only Kubrick could dare make a hysterical farce out of everyone's fear. Production designer Ken Adam, who had devised the James Bond secret bases, designed the "war room" which became a movie prototype of its kind.

With all the hallmarks of a "prestige" production – an all-star cast, the big set with authentic props and costumes, elaborate art direction, all shots in a major studio, "The Empress Dowager" depicts a dying dynasty clinging to its futile vanity.

In "The Terminal" (2004), production designer Alex McDowell turned an old airplane hangar in Palmdale, California, into a 10,000 square metres three-storey airport set, complete with real escalators, brand name shops and restaurants, making it a delightful urban fantasy about life's transitions.

F. W. Murnau's "Sunrise" (1927) was made in Hollywood with a carte blanche on the production. The result resembles the best of his German films, complete with stylish sets, unusual compositions, lyrical atmosphere and fluid camerawork. The finely fabricated sets depict the garish delights of the city and the hypnotic river search. The film won three academy awards including Best Actress for Janet Gaynor.

To feature a singer's struggle between dream and reality, Konrad Wolf's "Solo Sunny" (1980) has created impressive interiors that characterise Sunny's longings and aspirations while reflecting on the social and living environment of an East German youth in the 70s. The film was awarded the Silver Bear at the 1980 Berlin International Film Festival.

On the same concept to portray the "inner life" of characters, Stanley Kwan's "Red Rose White Rose" has the design set in a style of the old Shanghai districts where old traditions still reign in the neighbourhood to feature a husband who leads a dull life with his simple-minded wife and have an affair with a seductive married woman.

"The Name of the Rose" (1986) is a detective thriller on religious conspiracy. Production designer Dante Ferretti has constructed a labyrinth-like Italian monastery to symbolise power and confusion. In the local film "92 The legendary La Rose Noire" (1992), the anonymous director Jeff Lau has created a joyride of local audience's collective memories with mechanical traps, secret labyrinths of passageways and sing-song romantic interludes. The ingenious casting of Wong Wan-si, Fong Bo-bo and the award-winning performance of Tony Leung Ka-fai has propelled this deliciously droll film to cult status.

All films are either in English or with English subtitles.

Tickets priced at $40 are available at all URBTIX outlets. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Reservations can be made by phone on 2734 9009, credit card telephone booking on 2111 5999 or on the internet at

In addition, there will be two seminars "Creation of Filmic Spaces" at 4.30pm on January 13, 2007, and "Space and Mood in Production Design" at 4.30pm on January 27, 2007, at the Cinema of the HKFA. The seminars will be conducted in Cantonese. Admission is free.

Detailed programme information is available in the "ProFolio 34" distributed at all performing venues of the LCSD or call 2734 2900, 2739 2139 or visit or .

Ends/Wednesday, November 22, 2006
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