The 45th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF45) will present ten restored Chinese-language classics to celebrate the filmmakers’ creativity that remains influential to this day.
Spanning from the silent era to Hong Kong’s New Wave, this selection represents a cross-section of some of the most iconic work by generations of forward-thinking Chinese filmmakers who were never afraid to challenge the conventions.
Demonstrating cinematic artistry in startling modernity, WU Yonggang’s The Goddess (1934) is a silent masterpiece that immortalised Chinese cinema’s goddess, RUAN Lingyu, who embodied the dichotomy of women’s roles in her exquisitely crafted performance. Funded by the KT Wong Foundation, this newly-restored version also features a sweeping orchestral score with Shanghainese folk music. Celebrated filmmaker SANG Hu heralded China’s first colour feature with New Year’s Sacrifice (1956), transforming literary giant LU Xun’s sardonic tale into a cinematic triumph of socialist realism. Shanghai International Film Festival contributed to the restoration of this rarely-seen masterpiece.
TSUI Hark and Allen FONG, two leading figures of the Hong Kong New Wave movement, championed bold experimentation in different cinematic languages. The Butterfly Murders, TSUI’s directorial debut in 1979, reinvented a wuxia story as a murder mystery with modernist aesthetics that transcends the martial arts genre. Ah Ying (1983), named Best Film at the 3rd Hong Kong Film Awards, epitomises FONG’s signature vibe of depicting a real-life story in a documentary-like style, reflecting the tensions and contradictions besetting the city.
Acclaimed for her nuanced portrayal of Hong Kong-Chinese migrants, Clara LAW laid down her marker in Australian cinema with Floating Life (1996), a poignant exploration of home and identity which transmigrates into a vision of our city today. Meanwhile, the audience could trace the elegant charm and exquisite composition shown in YONFAN’s Venice award-winning No.7 Cherry Lane (2019) to Peony Pavilion (2001), a dazzling evocation of the decadent splendour of early 20th century China.
Completing the selection are the world premieres of four newly-restored classics by Stanley KWAN, HKIFF45’s Filmmaker in Focus, namely Love Unto Waste (1986), Rouge (1987), Center Stage (Director’s Cut) (1992), and Lan Yu (2001).
HKIFF45 will adopt a new hybrid format for the first time, featuring screenings and audience-engagement events simultaneously in-theatre and online. The festival will unveil its full programme on 9 March. The public can purchase tickets online ( http://www.hkiff.org.hk/ ) and through all URBTIX outlets from 18 March.
Six Chinese-language Restored Classics
1934 The Goddess
1956 New Year’s Sacrifice
1979 The Butterfly Murders
1983 Ah Ying
1996 Floating Life
2001 Peony Pavilion
Four Restored Classics by Stanley KWAN
1986 Love Unto Waste
1992 Center Stage (Director’s Cut)
2001 Lan Yu