Retrospective on "Entertainer: the Art of Wong Tin-lam" at HK Film Archive
From workman, scriptwriter to director and actor, director Wong Tin-lam has made films of almost every genre imaginable: wuxia, family melodrama, romantic comedy, musical, Chinese opera and in different dialects: Cantonese, Mandarin and Amoy.
Being a dedicated director for six decades, professionalism is the keyword to Wong's life-long career, which is not in pursuit of self-expression, but to entertain the public.
To celebrate the director's 80th birthday this year, the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) has organised the retrospective "Entertainer: the Art of Wong Tin-lam" to showcase his talents as both a trendsetter and an entertainer. A total of 23 titles of different genres will be shown in 40 screenings from November 2, 2007 to January 6, 2008, at the Cinema of the HKFA.
The selected films include family melodrama and light comedies "All in the Family" (1959), Grace Chang's most memorable film "The Wild, Wild Rose" (1960) and her other musical "Because of Her" (1963); "A Story of Three Loves" (Part 1 and the Sequel, 1964), scripts written by Eileen Chang: "Father Takes a Bride" (1963), "The Greatest Wedding on Earth" (1962) and "The Greatest Love Affair on Earth" (1964); mandarin musical "Songs of the Peach Blossom River" (1956), romantic comedies "Lady on the Roof" (1959) and "Darling Stay at Home" (1968); martial arts film "How Wong Fei-hung Vanquished the Ferocious Dog in Shamian" (1956), and "Mad, Mad, Mad Sword" (1969).
To complement the screenings, four talks and seminars will be held to discuss director Wong's contributions and achievements in the film and television industry. Film critic Thomas Shin will be the speaker of "Wong Tin-lam: from Film to Television" at Kubrick bc in Yau Ma Tei at 3pm on October 28. Well-known author and scriptwriter Eileen Chang worked with Wong in many of his films. The Research Officer of HKFA, Ms Wong Ain-ling and the Assistant Professor of Lingnan University, Ms Mary Wong will share their views on "Wong Tin-lam and Literature" at 2.30pm on November 10 at the Commercial Press Tsim Sha Tsui Book Centre.
Two other seminars will be held in the Cinema of HKFA. HKFA Guest Programmer Mr Law Kar will talk about "Wong Tin-lam: Six Decades in Film & Television" at 4.30pm on November 24 while the former Production Controller of TVB, Mr Lau Tin-chi and Film/TV Professor of Baptist University, Mr Ng Ho will share their experience of "Wong Tin-lam and the Golden Era of Television" at 4.30pm on December 22.
Before the screening of the opening film on November 2 at the HKFA, director Wong and various guests will have an opening chat at 7pm with the audiences reminiscing about yesteryears. All seminars and talks are conducted in Cantonese and admission is free on a first-come-first-served basis.
A new Chinese publication "Oral History Series 4: Director Wong Tin-lam" will be published in November on the director, his colleagues and proteges. A small-scale photo exhibition will also be held on the 1st floor of the HKFA.
Born in Shanghai in 1928, Wong made his directorial debut at the age of 22. In the mid-50s, he first established himself as an up and coming director in Hsin Hwa Film Company when studios were blooming. Soon he joined Cathy, one of the major studios which gave him a better offer. Equipped with hard-won skills he shot a number of successful films, which made him one of the most popular directors of that time.
Wong started a new career in television when Cathy closed in early the 1970s. He virtually revolutionised the production model of TV drama serials by combining film shooting techniques with the flexibility of television production, and became a trendsetter in melodrama and wuxia serials. He remained a major figure in TV production until his retirement. He is still active in the film and television industry by taking up roles of co-ordinator and producer and making guest appearances in films of his son Wong Jing and protégé Johnnie To.
The opening film "All in the Family", which is his second film with MP&GI, won him the Best Director honour at the 7th Asian Film Festival and was his inaugural piece into the genre of family melodrama and light comedy. One of his masterpieces is "The Wild, Wild Rose" (1959) with Grace Chang playing the flirtatious singer. A story on the power of love and its grip loosely based on Bizet's Carmen, Wong's exquisite mis-en-scene, mood, tempo, and Grace Chang's dynamic performance make this one-of-a-kind in the Chinese cinema.
Both Shaw Brothers and MP&GI competed to bring Zhang Henshui's classic "A Story of Three Loves" to the screen. Though Shaw Bros beat MP&GI, the latter version was considered to be the better one. The film and its sequel have mixed elements of social melodrama, romantic tragedy, and martial arts film's action suspense, backed by wonderfully crafted mis-en-scene, costumes, and music. The stellar ensemble cast, in particular the valiant Jeanette Lin Tsui, and the villainous Roy Chiao, makes the films perpetual crowd-pleaser.
Chang Yang plays a chauvinistic husband in "Darling Stay at Home" who will not allow his wife Loh Ti to go out and work. But defiant wife puts on a disguise and works at the same hotel as her husband, and even gets promoted to be Chang's superior! A rare contemporary appearance by the late Loh Ti, who under Wong's direction looks just as beautiful as the classical beauties she used to play.
"The Wild, Wild Rose", "A Story of Three Loves" (Part 1 and the Sequel) and "Darling Stay at Home" are in Mandarin with English subtitles. Other Films are in Cantonese or Mandarin.
Tickets priced at $30 for the screenings 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, or on the internet at http://www.urbtix.hk
Detailed programme information and various discounts can be obtained in the "Profolio 39" distributed at all performing venues of the LCSD. For enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900 or browse the websites: http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/fp
Ends/Thursday, October 11, 2007