Archival Gems-Time After Time          [ Some screenings cancelled ]

Safeguarding the heritage of our cinema has always been the mission of the Hong Kong Film Archive. Through continuous efforts in acquisition over the years, we have been going after every clue, working hard to fill the many gaps in our film history.

Acquisition work is like searching for missing pieces of a puzzle, hoping to discover films that have been lost or unearth gems that have long been buried, and reconnecting them with the world of light and shadow. With the support of $20 million allocated to the Archive in the financial year 2019-20, the Archive embarked on a 5-year digitisation project to transfer 150 invaluable films in its collection to the latest DCP digital format. The original celluloid films are either sole existing copies or prints in unsatisfactory conditions. Digitising them will minimise the risk of further damage to the celluloid when used for projection.

Film archives around the world are forever seeking a balance between preserving their collections and sharing them with the public. Here in Hong Kong, we have been hindered from introducing parts of our collection to the audience due to different levels of print rarity and damage to the copies. This digitisation project will bring back to the screen some of those films, presented as the programme ‘Archival Gems–Time After Time', one of many events celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Hong Kong Film Archive. 16 of those films that are either digitised from sole-print copies or never-before-screened versions of movies from 1940s to 1960s will first be showcased. Each one of them is a time capsule that retained the sights and sounds of the past.

We cannot travel back in time. Yet we can always sit back in a darkened theatre and experience the unfolding of stories, sharing laughter and tears the way audiences did in the past.

Bruce Lee Series

This is the 80th anniversary of Bruce Lee's birth. Before he went to study in the United States in 1959, he had already made over 20 films in Hong Kong. To study this great actor, we should start with these early works to trace the path of his development.

Wong Fei-hung Series

The Wong Fei Hung series is the most prolific film series in history. Actor Kwan Tak-hing stars in over 75 of those films, making him the quintessential Master Wong.

Sun Ma Si-tsang Series

Opera superstar Sun Ma Si-tsang started making films as early as the 1930s. He returned to the silver screen after the war and starred in many musical comedies set in contemporary time. He often plays grass-root characters, bringing joy and laughter to audience with his singing and comedic talents.

Transgender Performance Series

Transgender performance used to be the norm on the opera stage, resulting in unique artistic expressions of gender qualities. In the 1930s, the ban on mixed-gender troupes was lifted in both Hong Kong and Guangzhou, putting an end to an artistry that was once unique to its time.

Yeung Kung-leong Series

Yeung Kung-leong was a film artist whose works cross freely between East and West. Comfortable with many different genres, he was especially fond of horror films, having made Midnight Vampire in 1936, the first vampire film of Hong Kong. Yeung seems to have a Song of Midnight (Ma-Xu Weibong, 1937) complex, having made three films obviously inspired by it: The Phantom of the Theatre (1940), The Voyage of the Dead (1954) and The Dead Comes Alive.

Lau Leung-wah Series

Lau Leung-wah established the production company Swank with her then husband Lo Wei in 1957 and starred in many of its films. Lo, who often doubled as director and actor, would tailor made characters for Lau. Putting them in many different genres, Lo freed her from the sexy stereotype for which she was known, putting her acting versatility and adaptability on full display.

Tso Tat-wah Series

Tso Tat-wah was known as the ‘Ironman of Cinema' at the height of his popularity in the 1950s and 60s, having starred in over 300 films. He is best known as a chivalrous martial artist in costume movies, but his Ironman persona works just as readily in contemporary settings, playing repeatedly a detective in urban settings.

Jane Bond Series

Connie Chan Po-chu was a superstar among superstars in the 1960s. She actually starred in over 30 films in 1967 alone. Among them were several Jane Bond films, a uniquely Hong Kong genre, answering to the spy craze taking over the world with stories inspired by China's action-heroine tradition. As an actress, Chan projects the simple purity of a girl next door while also excelling in opera acrobatics, the perfect embodiment of ‘Jane Bond'.


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