22 January 2019 (Hong Kong) – The 43rd Hong Kong International Film Festival will pay tribute to the trailblazers of Chinese cinema – legendary actress LI Lihua and the Fifth Generation of Chinese directors, who revolutionize the cinematic tradition with acting diversity and filmmaking innovations respectively, putting Chinese cinema into international spotlight.

A pioneering actress of contemporary Chinese cinema, LI (1924-2017) has set a number of records in film history – the first winner of two Golden Horse Best Actress Awards, and the first Chinese female lead in a major Hollywood production (China Doll, Dir: Frank Borzage, 1958).

Her virtuosity and versatility is represented in HKIFF43’s selection of four restored classics – “Barber Takes a Wife” (1947), HUANG Zuolin’s romantic satire about Shanghai, written by SANG Hu; “Bright Day” (1948), the only revolutionary film written and directed by celebrated drama master CAO Yu; “Flower Girl” (1951), ZHU Shilin’s post-war drama shot in Hong Kong, and the final film produced by FEI Mu; and “Storm over the Yangtze River” (1969), an award-winning patriotic film directed by LI Han-hsiang. “Flower Girl” and “Barber Takes a Wife” had only hitherto existed in sole prints, the new restorations are initiated by the descendants of Sinze Wu (aka Wu Xingzai), the founder of Wenhua Film Company, and will have their World and Asian premiere in Hong Kong.

The Fifth Generation of Chinese filmmakers – mainly graduates from the Beijing Film Academy – led a movement of visual experimentation rich in social allegory, giving rise to a new form of Chinese cinema that challenged traditional worldviews and contemporary society.

Still from “Barber Takes a Wife”

Laying the foundation was ZHANG Junzhao’s groundbreaking and unconventional war film “One and Eight” (1983), featuring criminal anti-heroes in a distinctive style. TIAN Zhuangzhuang focused on dramas about ethnic minorities with the fascinating “The Horse Thief” (1986), while HUANG Jianxin turned a satirical bent with his urban fare debut “The Black Cannon Incident” (1985).

Launching the Fifth Generation in world cinema are CHEN Kaige’s “Yellow Earth” (1984) and ZHANG Yimou’s directorial debut “Red Sorghum” (1988), winning the Locarno Silver Leopard Award and the Berlinale Golden Bear Award respectively. Both films constitute a crowning achievement of Chinese cinema, continue to fascinate and influence generations of filmmakers.

Still from “The Black Cannon Incident”

The 43rd Hong Kong International Film Festival will be held from 18 March to 1 April

Festival tickets for the public can be booked online (at www.hkiff.org.hk) and all URBTIX and HK Ticketing outlets from 28 February 2019.

Film list for screenings:
Legendary Actress Li Lihua
1. Barber Takes a Wife (1947)
2. Bright Day (1948)
3. Flower Girl (1951)
4. Storm over the Yangtze River (1969)

The Fifth Generation of Chinese Filmmakers
1. One and Eight (1983)
2. Yellow Earth (1984)
3. The Black Cannon Incident (1985)
4. The Horse Thief (1986)
5. Red Sorghum (1988)

Ever since I watched Takeshi Kitano's "Hana-Bi" for the first time (and many times after that) I have been a cinephile. While much can be said about the technical aspects of film, coming from a small town in Germany, I cherish the notion of art showing its audience something which one does normally avoid, neglect or is unable to see for many different reasons. Often the stories told in films have helped me understand, discover and connect to something new which is a concept I would like to convey in the way I talk and write about films. Thus, I try to include some info on the background of each film as well as a short analysis (without spoilers, of course), an approach which should reflect the context of a work of art no matter what genre, director or cast. In the end, I hope to pass on my joy of watching film and talking about it.