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"Epic Times, Simple Stories: The World of Zhu Shilin" on show at the HK Film Archive

Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) will present “Epic Times, Simple Stories: The World of Zhu Shilin”, starting on Thursday (March 20) to showcase the artistic development and remarkable achievement of the outstanding director.

The retrospective is a contribution to the 32nd Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) and will show 29 of the director’s works made from the 1930s to 1960s in 24 screenings during the HKIFF from March 20 to April 6, while another 28 screenings will be shown from April 12 to May 12. All films will be screened at the Cinema of the HKFA.

Zhu Shilin is one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of Chinese cinema. He led a simple life and made mostly simple films about ordinary people and their daily lives. Yet he lived in epic times and his films take on epic scale. Born in turbulent times, Zhu lived through modern China from monarchy to civil war. He was partially paralysed in his early youth and suffered from severe physical limitations, yet he persisted, leaving an indelible mark in an industry well known for its demand for physical and mental resilience.

He was a storyteller and a stylist, his work a coalescence of classical Chinese lyricism and modern Western romanticism. Well versed in every aspect of the film industry, he excelled in a diversity of genres, from family melodramas to romantic comedies, from contemporary dramas to historical epics.

Among the archival treasures, seven rare works made by Zhu in 1930s will be screened, with prints kindly provided by the China Film Archive. They are acknowledged masterpieces of Chinese cinema: “Two Stars” (1931), “Civil Wind” (1935), “Song of a Kind Mother” (1936), “New Times, Old Times” (1937) and “The Lost Pearl” (1937); “Homecoming” (1934), an early work that has rarely been seen since its initial release but is in fact a greatly accomplished work that measures up to the best; and “Vistas of Art: Film City” (1937), a powerful drama spiced with interesting movieland sketches.

Several classics of Hong Kong cinema are included in the lineup: “Sorrows of the Forbidden City” (1948), a historical epic that changed history; “Garden of Repose” (1964), a masterful adaptation of literary masterpiece; the comedies, “The Dividing Wall” (1952) and “Festival Moon” (1953), all of which are treasured as astute comments on societal conditions through laughter; the powerful melodrama “A Widow’s Tears” (1956); the opera adaptations “The Eternal Beauty” (1957) and “The Eternal Love” (1960).

To complement the screenings, there will be a two-month exhibition from Friday (March 21) to June 9 at the Exhibition Hall of the HKFA, which presents oral history interviews, photos, historical documents and precious archival materials donated by Zhu’s descendants, Chu Fung and Chu Yan. Admission is free.

A new book, “Zhu Shilin: A Filmmaker of His Times”, with essays by renowned writers and interviews with Zhu’s children and protégé Cen Fan is published in English and Chinese editions.

“Two Stars”, “The Lost Pearl”, “Sorrows of the Forbidden City”, “The Eternal Beauty”, “Garden of Repose”, “A Widow’s Tears”, “The Eternal Love”, “The Dividing Wall” and “Festival Moon” have English subtitles.

Tickets for all screenings priced at $30 are available at all URBTIX outlets. Half-price tickets are available for full-time students, senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Reservations can be made by phone on 2734 9009, or on the internet at .

Detailed programme information can be obtained in the “ProFolio 41” distributed at all performing venues of the LCSD. For enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900 or browse the website: or .

Ends/Tuesday, March 18, 2008

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