From Revolution to War
The Eight Hundred Heroes
1938 / B&W / Silent / Chi & Eng Subtitle / 53min
Dir: Ying Yunwei
Cast: Yuan Muzhi, Chen Boer
Pro Co: China Film Studio
Made in 1938 to boost national morale in the face of Japanese aggression against China, this war epic is a prime example of a war propaganda movie. As the central government retreated to the interior,The Eight Hundred Heroes was made in the temporary capital without sound equipment. Despite being silent, the scenes of battle are staged brilliantly. It is one of the best war films produced in China during the early phase of the anti-Japanese war.
A Page of History
1941/ B&W /Mandarin (narrated) / 34min
Dir: Lai Man-wai
Pro Co: China Sun
One of the most important documentaries in Chinese history. Lai Man-wai ,a pioneer of HK cinema, followed the national hero Sun Yat-sen on the Northern Expedition to rid China of warlords, documenting the entire journey during the 1920s. The film had been preserved by Lai's family and was restored by the HKFA in 2003.
It Was A Cold Winter Night (aka Cold Night)
1955/ B&W / Cantonese / 137min
Dir: Lee Sun-fung
Cast: Pak Yin, Ng Cho-fan
Pro Co: Hualian
Adapted from one of the greatest Chinese novels of the last century, It was a Cold Winter Night is a masterpiece in Cantonese melodrama. The film is a lamentation on human suffering, detailing the struggles of a humble office clerk as he seeks a delicate balance between war-time hardships, filial duties towards a dominating but often unreasonable mother and devotion to a loving wife who happens to draw the wrath of the mother. Lee Sun-fung's evocative direction sets the mood for this touching drama, capturing the subtle but powerful emotions of the characters by highlighting calibrated performances by lead actors Ng Cho-fan, Pak Yin and Wong Man-lei.
1974 / Colour / Mandarin / Chi & Eng Subtitle / 94min
Dir: Patrick Lung Kong
Cast: Josephine Siao Fong-fong, Charlie Chin Hsiang-lin
Pro Co: Eng Wah
An ambitious anti-nuclear melodrama that witnesses the rise in HK of a humanism with an international scope. This film, more than any figures or social indicators, signals an urge among certain members of the citizenry to look beyond the borders of the then colony. Shot mostly on location in Hiroshima, this is probably the first HK film to tell a story entirely through the perspectives of a Japanese family (though all the characters are played by Chinese actors).
1982 / Colour / Cantonese / Chi & Eng Subtitle / 106min
Dir: Ann Hui
Cast: Andy Lau, George Lam
Pro Co: Blue Bird
Ann Hui's Boat People represents a high point in HK cinema and also a milestone of her own career. A box-office success and an invitee to the Cannes International Film Festival, the film was the first to depict the syndrome of fear over the 1997 question.
Andy Lau's appearance on the big screen reveals the great potential of a megastar.