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"Moving Spaces" exhibition displays production design of classical film sets

Magnificent models of classical film sets including the multi-storey airport in Steven Spielberg’s “The Terminal”, the grand opera house in Leslie Cheung’s “The Phantom Lover”, the labyrinth-like monastery in Sean Connery’s “The Name of the Rose” and “Pig Sty Alley” in Stephen Chow’s “Kung Fu Hustle” are on display at the “Moving Spaces” exhibition.

The “Moving Spaces” exhibition, presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) in collaboration with Goethe-Institut Hongkong, is running at the Exhibition Hall of the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) from today (December 9) until March 18, 2007. Admission is free.

Some of the exhibits are on loan from the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum for Film and Television in Berlin. The exhibition showcases archival objects, impressive footages, drawings, sketches and film set models imported worldwide and some created locally based on classic scenes in Hong Kong Films.

Officiating at today’s opening ceremony were the Chief Exhibition Co-ordinator of Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum for Film and Television, Mr Peter Manz; the Director of the Goethe-Institut Hong Kong, Mr Michael Müller-Verweyen and the Chief Manager (Film & Cultural Exchange) of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Mr Albert Lee.

Filmic spaces are moving spaces, setting the framework for the movement on the actor and demarcating his radius of action. The production sets with props, accessories and scene space help set the various moods of different scenes. The set design of filmic spaces creates an artificial world which is often more “real” than reality.

The exhibition features five different spatial production design concepts “transit spaces”, “stages”, “spaces of power”, “labyrinths” and “private spaces”, which not only create visual spaces but also help generate the dramaturgy of a film.

One encounters transit spaces when moving from one place to another like streets, department stores, and public transports. Transit spaces as film settings are difficult to photograph in real locations. Gigantic and self-contained sets are therefore constructed such as the delightful urban fantasy airport set in “The Terminal” (2004) with real escalators, brand name shops and restaurants. It becomes the temporary home of Tom Hanks, where he makes new friends and finds romance while being trapped in the terminal.

Stages provide a look behind the scenes. The intermediate space between reality and illusion becomes visible. The old Shanghai “Pig Sty Alley” in “Kung Fu Hustle” (2004) which houses many weird households brings together images and icons from martial arts cinema old and new. In “Phantom Lover”, the Gothic grand opera and its staircase enhances the dramaturgical intensity of the stage in the film.

Filmic spaces of power portray control and power relations. It is often characterised by heavy furniture, cool surfaces and large panorama windows. With dark chamber and circular fluorescent-tube light, the classic “war room” in “Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove” (1964) is a monument of control. Li Han-Hsiang’s “The Empress Dowager” (1975) radiates “power” through the “prestige” set of the palace, authentic props and costumes.

Labyrinths appear primarily to be psychological spaces. Tracking shots and cutting create bewildering space with sensations of fear and helplessness. Production designer Dante Ferretti in “The Name of the Rose” (1986) constructed a labyrinth-like library based on prints of M.C. Escher to symbolise power and confusion. In the local film “92 The legendary La Rose Noire” (1992), mechanical traps, secret labyrinths of passageways and sing-song romantic interludes were employed to create local audience’s collective memories.

Private spaces tell more about the occupants and small details of furnishings reveal their personal preferences or hidden conflicts. Konrad Wolf’s “Solo Sunny” (1980) has impressive interiors that characterise Sunny’s longings and aspirations. Wong Kar-wai’s “Days of Being Wild” (1990) recreates exemplary private spaces of the 1960s Hong Kong.

To complement the exhibition, two seminars will be held at the Cinema of HKFA. “Creation of Filmic Spaces” is at 4.30pm on January 13, 2007, and “Space and Mood in Production Design” at 4.30pm on January 27, 2007. Both seminars will be conducted in Cantonese. Admission is free.

In addition, 10 films on the five concepts are screened from today to January 27, 2007 at the Cinema of the HKFA. They are “The Phantom Lover”, “Kung Fu Hustle”, “Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”, “The Empress Dowager”, “The Terminal”, “Sunrise”, “Solo Sunny”, “Red Rose White Rose”, “The Name of the Rose” and “92 The Legendary La Rose Noire”.

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 .

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/Saturday, December 9, 2006
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