Introduction / Aki Kung
At the first ‘Reel to Reel Film Heritage’ last year, we showcased newly restored, rediscovered and rarely seen films locally as we tried to fill in the missing parts of film history, and to explain the evolution of film technology in parallel with the discussion on the characteristics of film and digital media. On the other hand, we hoped to raise awareness on the preservation of audio-visual heritage, which would strengthen the exchange, education and research in this field. As digital restoration and online streaming platforms have been developing rapidly in the past 20 years, many governmental and commercial organisations have started their own restoration projects, and are speeding up the process of film digitisation of their collections. However, many of their projects are focusing on well-known feature films. The lost films found are only the tip of the iceberg.
‘Rediscover and Restructure: Art and Sensuality in Ho Fan’s Cinema’ originates from Mr. Law Kar’s suggestion that Ho Fan’s two early experimental shorts— Big City – Little Man and Assignment, Part One (both 1966) should be restored. Sadly, no film material has been found for these two shorts at this time. As for Ho’s nearly 30 cinematic works, many of the negatives and screening copies are lost since they are mostly produced by independent companies. Some of the existing films are either damaged or sole copies, making circulation difficult and their artistic value neglected. With this first ever retrospective of Ho Fan in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the search for the screening materials is already challenging in its own right. Our selection criteria have to ensure the availability of screening materials while considering the overall maturity and quality of each individual work. We focus on including at least one film from each stage of his career, and intend to select those that have been rarely screened locally. One of the films, Lost (released in France in 1970, co-directed with Sun Po-ling), was a holy grail of sorts after it was thought to be lost for years. Fortunately, the sole existing copy has been found and digitised so it can appear on the screens of Hong Kong once again. We hope that this retrospective will help audience to rediscover this home-grown yet internationally renowned artist whose cinematic career has almost faded into obscurity.
Because of budgetary limitations, this year’s programme will not be able to include sections ‘A Quick History of Film Technology’ and ‘Contemporary Creative Works on Celluloid’. But thanks to the help from various parties, we have the honour to focus on the part of ‘Rediscover and Restructure’ and to present our first digitisation project, showing these lost and recovered works to the public.
We would like to thank the family of Mr. Ho Fan, Mr. Law Kar, Dr. Timmy Chen, Ms. Sarah Greene from the Blue Lotus Gallery, Broadway Cinematheque, Tai Kwun, Hong Kong Film Critics Society, Hong Kong Film Archive, Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute, all the film distribution companies and rights holders for their support and assistance!