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Hong Kong Literature Festival showcases HK with array of programmes

Hong Kong is a small but unique city. Each district of tiny city has its own character. The cityscape, which comprises cultural and architectural features in Central, Aberdeen, Western District, Wan Chai, Sham Shui Po, Mai Pao, Tin Shui Wai and many other districts, has been the subject of literary works of poets in ancient China, authors of today, of comics and blogs. The 7th Hong Kong Literature Festival, which opens today (June 27) with an array of lively activities, features the multiple facets of Hong Kong in literature.

Jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) and the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) to promote literary appreciation and writing, the festival runs from today to July 14, with most of the events held at Hong Kong Central Library.

The 40 interactive literary activities include a thematic exhibition, symposiums, literary walks and talks, sharing sessions on illustrated literature and books for children and youth, dialogues with creators, talks by award-winning authors, guided reading clubs, arts performances, film seminars and screenings.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Chairman of the Public Libraries Advisory Committee, Professor John Leong Chi-yan, said that because of its established image as an international finance centre, people had overlooked the fact that Hong Kong had a bookish side.

He said that to give a glimpse of the sentiments for Hong Kong embedded in local literary works, this year's festival was dedicated to the theme of "Scent of Books, Scenes of Hong Kong".

The Chief Executive of the HKADC, Mr Louis Yu, said that the interactive art performances and other activities organised by the Arts Development Council would help bring literary works out from the page to the sensory world, thus arousing the interest of a new generation in literature.

One of the festival highlights is the "Thematic Exhibition: The 18 Facets of Hong Kong as Written in Literature", from today to July 14 at Hong Kong Central Library (HKCL). Visitors will be able to see the city through the eyes of local writers and feel the sentiments in literary works indigenous to Hong Kong. The exhibition also traces the changes of the cityscape in the 18 districts as documented in local literature.

From the greatest poets in ancient China 1,000 years ago to the celebrated novelist Eileen Chang in the 1930s, visitors will be amazed at how Hong Kong has left its mark in the minds and writings of literati spanning centuries.

Reading is an exercise of the mind and imagination. But a visit to the actual site that serves as the backdrop against which a writer set his or her story will give a different feeling. To tie in with the exhibition, the "Literary Walk and Talk" takes readers from the printed word to the fascinating labyrinth of alleyways and back streets in Wan Chai, Sha Tin, Tai Po and Western District. Guided by scholars and authors, participants will walk to the scenes of life and history depicted by various writers and view the city from a different angle. Highlights of the literary walk will be recorded as radio and web TV programmes by Radio Television Hong Kong.

A distinguished panel of writers and scholars from Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan will share their views on how local literature developed under Hong Kong's cultural environment at symposiums entitled "Capsule Hong Kong: Reminiscences and Imagination", "Among Cities' Space: Architecture and Literature" and "Hong Kong Literature in the Eyes of Young Writers".

The popular "Dialogue with Creators" and the debut talk series by winners of the Hong Kong Biennial Awards for Chinese Literature will help readers appreciate literature from different approaches. In a relaxed and casual setting, renowned creative writers will explore with participants social phenomena that are associated with local literature including blog writing, upstairs bookstores, creation of martial art novels, literature on street signs, Zhuzhi poetry, folk literature and English writing and reading.

The session "Illustrated Literature & Books for Children and Youth" at 4pm on July 8 at HKCL will be conducted in English. Participants can have a dialogue with the Regional Adviser for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Ms Mio Debnam and renowned author and columnist Nury Vittachi.

To heighten reading and research of literature, experienced writers, scholars and book critics will lead the public in three sessions of "Guided Reading Club", tutoring participants in the skills of advanced reading and aesthetic appreciation of selected literary works.

Not to be missed are the lively arts performances by various local performing groups. Local literature will be interpreted in drama, dance and performance art, with innovative ideas to give a new dimension to literature. Organised by local arts groups, "Interflow" sessions emphasise participation in interactive and dynamic seminars, workshops and performances.

As a contributing programme to the festival, the Hong Kong Film Archive has presented the "Care for Our Community" series to screen 16 films made by local filmmakers from the 1950s to 2008 on Hong Kong’s society, living conditions, cityscape and family relations. Together with the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences of Lingnan University, three seminars will also be held on various aspects of "Hong Kong People", "Hong Kong City" and "Hong Kong Life" through the examination of local films.

As a prelude to the festival, three activities -"The Literary Performance Competition for Students", The Charm of Hong Kong Neighbourhood" Writing Competition and "Picturesque Words: Photographs Titling Competition" - were held and prizes were presented to the winners today at the festival's opening ceremony. About 1,000 entries were received for "The Charm of Hong Kong Neighbourhood" Writing Competition, which invited people to write against the backdrop of the community they lived in. Through photograph titling, drama and story-telling, contestants have expressed their creativity and demonstrated the vitality of literature as a multifarious art form. The winning entries will be displayed at HKCL and selected libraries during the festival.

All activities, except the film shows, are free. Festival booklets are available at all public libraries, performing venues of the LCSD and the administration office of HKADC. For more details, see website:

Enquiries can be made at 2921 2662 (LCSD) or 2820 1032 (HKADC).

Ends/Friday, June 27, 2008

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