The Jade Hairpin | The Pearl Pagoda | Tenth Madam | The Story of Sixth Madam Su | Driven to Join the Liangshan Rebels | The Scholar and the Widow | The Legend of Hua Mulan | Executing Chen Shimei

The Jade Hairpin*

9 March 2019 (Saturday), 2:30pm

The Jade Hairpin

When Xiu, the daughter of high-ranking Chinese government official, is betrothed to young scholar Wang, Xiu’s jealous cousin Gu tries to drive them apart. Bribing their matchmaker to steal Xiu’s jade hairpin, she places it with a fake love letter in the couple’s new residence. Gu’s machinations succeed. Wang accuses Xiu of infidelity and hurls insults at his new wife. Fortunately, Wang’s father orders an investigation, and when the truth is finally revealed the young pair are happily reconciled. Featuring stellar performances from the main cast, this Huangmei opera film is a fine example of one of the many Hong Kong-inspired Taiwanese opera films produced in the mid-1960s.


Director: Daniel Lau
Production: Wan Shih Enterprise Company
Cast: Yang Lihua, Hsiao Li-Yun, Ye Qing
Taiwanese opera / 1967 / B&W / 95min / D Beta /No subtitles

The Pearl Pagoda

9 March 2019 (Saturday), 8:00pm

Screening

When tragedy strikes his once-affluent family, Fang Qing is sent by his mother to borrow money from a rich aunt. Seeing the scornful woman reject his request, a kind-hearted cousin Cui-e secretly passes Fang a precious pearl pagoda hidden in a box of sweets. But more bad luck follows, and as Fang makes his way home the gift is stolen by bandits. Three years later, Fang has become a successful young man. When he returns with gold to repay his cousin for her generosity, his aunt is so moved that she re-gifts him the pearl pagoda that had been recovered after the robbery. The cast of this Xiju production (a traditional genre from Jiangsu) is led by Plum Blossom Award winners Ni Tongfang and Zhou Dongliang.


Director: Yu Keping
Production: Jiangsu Performing Arts Group Company, China Theatre Association
Cast: Zhou Dongliang, Ni Tongfang, Dong Yunhua, Zhang Jinhua, Ji Chunyan, Yin Feng-e
Xiju / 2016 / Colour / 94min / DVD / Chinese and English subtitles

Tenth Madam

10 March 2019 (Sunday), 2:30pm

Screening

A masterpiece starring legendary Chuanju performer Liao Jingqiu, Du Shi Niang (Tenth Madam) is also the first-ever colour Sichuan opera film. Set in Beijing during the Ming dynasty, it tells the story of Du Shi Niang, a prostitute who falls in love with spendthrift playboy Li Jia. When the Madam of the brothel asks Li for 300 taels of silver so that Du can be free to marry him, Li asks his friend Liu for the money. Believing that her life is now happily settled, Du is horrified to learn that Li has sold her on for a higher price. Shocked and disgusted by Li, Du opens her treasure box to reveal that she is actually in possession of tremendous wealth, before jumping into the Yangtze River with her treasures and integrity.


Director: Xu Ke
Production: Beijing Film Studio
Cast: Liao Jingqiu, Yuan Yufang, Zhou Qihe
Chuanju / 1957 / Colour / 91min / DCP / No subtitles

The Story of Sixth Madam Su

10 March 2019 (Sunday), 8:00pm

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The Story of Sixth Madam Su

The first collaboration between Teochew opera companies from Hong Kong and Guangdong, this film tells the story of Su Liuniang (the Sixth Madam Su), who falls in love with her older cousin but is promised to another man by her father. The film, which does have a happy ending, is credited with rekindling the popularity of Teochew opera in Hong Kong, Macau and Southeast Asia, and launching lead actress Yao Xuanqiu to stardom.


Director: Luo Zhixiong
Production: Sun Luen Film Company
Cast: Yao Xuanqiu, Hong Miao, Chen Lihua, Chen Fugui
Teochew opera / 1960 / Colour / 104min / D Beta / Chinese subtitles

Driven to Join the Liangshan Rebels

23 March 2019 (Saturday), 2:30pm

Driven to Join the Liangshan Rebels

Starring two-time Plum Blossom Award winners Wang Ping and Wang Yan, this Peking opera classic is based on chapters from Water Margin, one of the “Four Great Classical Novels” of Chinese literature. Set in the Song dynasty, the story follows the misfortunes of the honourable martial artist Lin Zhong, who is falsely accused of attempting to assassinate Grand Commandant Gao Qiu and sent into exile to the remote town of Cangzhou. During Lin’s journey into exile, two murder attempts are made against him on Gao’s instruction. Filled with rage, Lin kills Gao’s henchmen, leaving him no choice but to join the Liangshan Rebels and become an outlaw.


Director: Xiao Lang
Production: China Theatre Association
Cast: Wang Ping, Wang Yan
Peking opera / 2013 / Colour / 119min / DVD / Chinese subtitles

The Scholar and the Widow

23 March 2019 (Saturday), 8:00pm

Screening

On his deathbed and fearing that his wife Li will move on and remarry, wealthy official Peng asks his neighbour, the scholar Dong, to “keep an eye” on Li. After Peng passes away, Dong complies with the request but his spying on Li unexpectedly leads to a love affair between the two. Overcome with jealousy, Peng’s ghost appears before Dong and demands that he kill Li. But this time Dong stands firm. Condemning Peng for being unjust and immoral he manages to repel the apparition, and live happily ever after with Li. Starring Plum Blossom Award winners Zeng Jingping and Gong Wanli.


Director: Feng Xiaoning
Production: China Theatre Association
Cast: Zeng Jingping, Gong Wanli, Lin Fufu, Wu Youqing
Liyuan opera / 2013 / Colour / 120min / DVD / Chinese and English subtitles

The Legend of Hua Mulan

24 March 2019 (Sunday), 2:30pm

Screening

Disguising herself as a man, Hua Mulan (two-time Plum Blossom Award winner Bai Shuxian) takes her father’s place in the army and becomes close friends with Captain Jin Yong during their service together. When Jin discovers that Mulan is a woman, the two make a vow to marry. Having ascended the ranks, Mulan is soon called to lead her army into war. Returning in triumph after a great victory, she learns that Jin Yong has been killed in battle. Heart-broken, the war hero turns down titles and acclaim from the Emperor, and heads home to be with her loved ones.


Director: Xiao Lang
Production: China Theatre Association
Cast: Bai Shuxian, Zhang Guoqing, Zhang Xiaomei, Zhang Ye
Longjiang opera / 2010 / Colour / 110min / DVD / Chinese subtitles

Executing Chen Shimei

24 March 2019 (Sunday), 8:00pm

Executing Chen Shimei

Inspired by one of the most well-known trials in Chinese history, Executing Chen Shimei stars two legendary performers of the Shaanxi xiqu genre Qinqiang: Plum Blossom Award winner Qi Aiyun, and “King of Painted Faces” Zhang Lanqin. Abandoning his first wife in the provinces, the ambitious Chen Shimei weds the royal princess and sets up a new home with her secretly in Beijing. When his first wife Qin Xianglian finds him in the capital and confronts him about his betrayal, Chen publicly shames her and attempts to have her and her children murdered. Devastated and furious, but managing to escape the man sent to kill her, Qin turns for help to the astute judge Bao Zheng. When Chen’s lies and insidious schemes are exposed and he refuses to repent, Bao orders his execution, giving Qin the justice she deserves.


Director: Xiong Wei
Production: Shaanxi Culture Audio and Video Publishing Company
Cast: Qi Aiyun, Zhang Lanqin
Qinqiang / 2011 / Colour / 102min / DVD / Chinese subtitles

Screening courtesy of the Hong Kong Film Archive, Leisure and Cultural Services Department, China Film Archive and China Theatre Association

*Remarks:
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