White Powder and Neon Lights

White Powder and Neon Lights

Dir/Scr: Wong Kam-yan (aka Wong Hok-sing)
Prod Co: Grandview (US Branch)
Cast: Wong Hok-sing, Leung Bik-yuk, Luk Wan-fei, Tang Pui, Liu Kei-wai
1947 | Colour | D Beta | Cantonese | 94min

This film was discovered overseas in 2000.

Chinese American Ben Wong came from a family that operated theatres in San Francisco. On his own initiatives, he contacted the Archive and sent a number of 16mm films made by the Grandview Film Company in the 1940s at his family warehouse. Grandview was established by a Chinese American, Joseph Sunn Jue, a key figure in the early development of Hong Kong cinema, its work often featuring the lives of overseas Chinese.

This is the first 16mm Cantonese film in full colour. Opera star Man-ha (Leung Bik-yuk) enjoys tremendous popularity during her performances in San Francisco, but drowns herself in the vices and temptations of the big city. Increasingly, she fails to show up for performances, almost causing the theatre to go bankrupt. When she sees her lover for the scoundrel that he is, she also sees the errors of her own ways and saves the theatre, restoring it to glory. Joseph Sunn Jue established the Grandview Film Company in Hong Kong during the 1930s and continued making films in the USA during wartime by collaborating with Chinese opera performers in exile there. Wong Hok-sing, an opera actor himself, directed, wrote and starred in this film. He staged a spectacular play-within-a-play at the end, not only to promote the art of Cantonese opera but also to boost solidarity among overseas Chinese through difficult times.

Date Time Venue
7/8/2021 (Sat) # 12:00pm Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive

# Post-screening talk with Edward Tse

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