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Li Lihua in Barber Takes a Wife (1947)
Li Lihua in Barber Takes a Wife (1947)

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 innovationsrespectively, 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, andwill 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.

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.

The 43rd Hong Kong International Film Festival will be held from March 18 to April 1, 2019.

Featured Films

Legendary Actress Li Lihua

Barber Takes a Wife (1947)

Bright Day (1948)

Flower Girl (1951)

Storm over the Yangtze River (1969)

The Fifth Generation of Chinese Filmmakers

One and Eight (1983)

Yellow Earth (1984)

The Black Cannon Incident (1985)

The Horse Thief (1986)

Red Sorghum (1988)

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