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December
"Palace Stories" commemorates 10th anniversary of director Li Han-hsiang's death
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The grandeur of settings and the wit in storytelling are two of the most cherished qualities of director Li Han-hsiang's films. To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the acclaimed director's death (December 17), the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) will present two films "The Last Tempest" and "The Adventures of Emperor Chien Lung" on December 24 and 26.

"The Empress Dowager", another work by Li, will also be shown on December 16 as part of the "Moving Spaces" programme.

Li left behind a legacy of remarkable creativity in his 50 years of filmmaking. The small film programme, "Palace Stories", serves as a warm-up for a major retrospective of his work as well as an exhibition in March 2007.

After his debut "Blood in Snow" in 1955 he joined Shaw Brothers. He then directed many "Huangmei Diao" films including the popular "Diau Charn", "The Kingdom and the Beauty" and "The Love Eterne" which set the trend.

He left for Taiwan in 1963 and rejoined Shaw Brothers in 1972, directing a steady stream of quality films. Among them, "The Empress Dowager" and "The Last Tempest" showed his master skill in filming historical epics.

In 1982, Li reached agreement with the Chinese government to shoot "The Burning of the Imperial Palace" and "Reign Behind a Curtain" at the Imperial Palace in Beijing. The films were not just box-office successes but also earned him great popularity. In 1966, he suffered a heart attack and died during the production of TV Series "Burning of the Efang Palace", leaving behind about 80 remarkable films under his directorship.

"The Last Tempest" (1975) is a companion piece to his earlier "The Empress Dowager". The story focuses on the emperor's efforts to implement massive reform which failed in the ruthless hands of the empress dowager. The palatial grandeur in the film captured the fatal mood of the palace's residents and signalled the impending end of the Qing Dynasty.

Li's interest in folksy wit was found in "The Adventures of Emperor Chien Lung" (1977) and a series of films on tales about the private exploits of the Emperor Chien Lung. The film features amusing mind games played by the Emperor and his top officials, followed by his colourful excursion to the south.

Both films are with Chinese and English subtitles.

Tickets priced at $30 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 on 2734 9009, credit card booking on 2111 5999 or on the internet at http://www.urbtix.hk .

For programme information please call 2734 2900, 2739 2139 or visit http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/fp or http://www.filmarchive.gov.hk .

Ends/Monday, December 4, 2006
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