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Introduction

Since 2005, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated 27 October as 'World Day for Audiovisual Heritage' to acknowledge the importance of audiovisual heritage to regional culture, and to enhance the public knowledge of the preservation of audiovisual heritage. On October 27, this year, the Hong Kong Film Archive will present another treasure from its collection, Emperor Zhengde's Night Visit to the Dragon and Phoenix Inn (1958).

The late 1950s was a golden era for Hong Kong's Cantonese opera films. Famed writer-director Wong Hok-sing adapted a folk tale about an emperor travelling in disguise and casted ‘Opera Fans' Lover' Yam Kim-fai as the lascivious emperor who meets and falls for Phoenix (played by Lai Yee) at the Dragon and Phoenix Inn in Meilong Town. The Empress becomes jealous and orders harm done to Phoenix. Phoenix tries to escape her fate by faking her death. The emperor almost becomes a monk from the trauma, but fortunately recovers his lost love as well as his imperial powers in the end. The film was shot on Eastman colour film, a technique not yet popular in Hong Kong at that time, but the colours of the film are bright and eye-catching thanks to Joseph Sunn Jue (aka Chiu Shu-sun), producer, cinematographer and color technique consultant.

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