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Free screenings on "1997, Before and After: Commemorating 10 Years of Reunification"

Commemorating the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region, the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) will present a free programme "1997, Before and After: Commemorating 10 Years of Reunification".

Viewers will be able to contemplate the meaning of the reunification through the screening of 10 different movies.

The programme will run from June 23 to July 14 at the Cinema of the HKFA. Free admission tickets will be available for distribution from Sunday (June 10) at the enquiry counters of the HKFA and the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. Each person can obtain a maximum of two tickets on a first-come, first-served basis.

The films to be screened are Yim Ho's "Homecoming", Jackie Chan's "Project A II", "Rouge" starring Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui, Xie Jin's "The Opium War", Evans Chan's "Journey to Beijing", Ann Hui's "Ordinary Heroes", Stephen Chow's "Shaolin Soccer", Tsui Hark's "Seven Swords", Johnnie To's "Election" and the "Short Film Showcase: 1997, the Deadline that Inspires".

A discussion will follow each screening. Discussion hosts include Dr Ng Chun-hung, Mr Bryan Chang, Mr Fung Ka-ming, Ms Teresa Kwong, Mr Leung Man-tao, director Evans Chan, Mr Leung Kwok-hung, Ms Angela Law, Mr Thomas Shin and Mr Long Tin. The discussions will be conducted in Cantonese.

From the Sino-British negotiations in the 1980s, Hong Kong had experienced the historical moment of transitioning from a colony to a Special Administrative Region of China. Hong Kong cinema had also gone through the eventful development from boom to bust.

The social and political happenings before and after 1997 had in fact inspired a generation of filmmakers, who had contributed much to the making of the golden age of Hong Kong cinema in the 1980s and 1990s.

Made in the 1980s when much of Hong Kong was overcome with anxiety over the reunification, "Homecoming" (1984) offers a refreshingly positive look at Mainland China. It is a heartfelt story of a woman's return to the village of her childhood in Guangdong, where she finds refuge from the troubles of modern city life. The film enjoyed critical and commercial success and became an important signpost on Hong Kong's road to 1997.

Jackie Chan's "Project A II" (1987) represents Hong Kong cinema's warped approach to history. The film is a nostalgic trip through the early years of the colonial era and a fantastic distortion of that era. Stanley Kwan's ghost story "Rouge" (1988) is a story of how Hong Kong had changed in 50 years. It also marks the passing of an era with the deaths of the two leading stars in the movie, Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui, in 2003.

"The Opium War" (1997) is a big-budget production that premiered with much fanfare in June, 1997. Meanwhile, director Evans Chan captured the four-month philanthropic walk from Hong Kong to Beijing in "Journey to Beijing" (1998) and viewed the rainbow-hued cross-currents of a Hong Kong gearing up for decolonisation on July 1, 1997. The film speaks to people from various backgrounds taking part in the walk and interposes the interviews with scenes from the walk.

Films about political activism are rare. Director Ann Hui took advantage of the new freedom after the reunification to release "Ordinary Heroes" (1999), one of only a select few Hong Kong films to deal with the topic of boat brides.

The fantastic power of martial arts represents an integral part of the Chinese imagination. In "Shaolin Soccer" (2001), Stephen Chow pushes that imagination even further by integrating martial arts with the game of soccer. Set in a Chinese city of ambiguous geographical location, the film is a powerful commentary on the state of a modern China that includes Hong Kong.

Quite different from "Shaolin Soccer", Tsui Hark's "Seven Swords" (2005) updates the Chinese imagination with heroics of vigorous fight action on a story set in the early Qing dynasty. The film pays tribute to both individualism and collective efforts.

Election issues are among the most contentious of concerns in post-reunification Hong Kong. "Election" (2005) puts an interesting spin on the topic. It cleverly manipulates the three basic elements of gangster films - wealth, violence and power - offering audiences a chance to contemplate the roles of all three in electoral politics.

"Short Film Showcase: 1997, the Deadline that Inspires" features four award-winning short films in ifva. It includes Ernest Fung's "Alice in Hong Kong" (1995), Fung Bing-fai's cyber letter "Hong Kong Road Movie" (1995), Chu Shun's "97 Tons of Memories" (1997) and Yau Ching's experimental documentary "Diasporama: Dead Air (Short Version)" (1997/2006).

All films have English subtitles. "Election" is classified as Category III and only aged 18 and above will be admitted.

Detailed programme information is available in the "ProFolio 37" distributed at all performing venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. For enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900 or browse the websites: or .

Ends/Friday, June 8, 2007

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