Continuing its tradition of honouring accomplished female directors, the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society will celebrate the ground-breaking works of Márta Mészáros with a retrospective of ten films in the upcoming January/February/March edition of the Cine Fan programme.

In addition to Mészáros’ unwavering pursuit of excellence is a selection of 16 films that juxtapose the original works of master filmmakers with their certified copies in paired screenings.  This unique presentation invites comparisons between directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Ozu Yasujiro, and Leo McCarey, placing them on equal footing.

The retrospective titled Márta Mészáros: Embracing the Independent Spirit celebrates the pioneering Hungarian director’s six-decade career, consistently placing women at the forefront.  Mészáros broke barriers in the film industry, legitimising women’s gender and artistic emancipation through her nuanced portrayals of women who face struggles but dare to make independent choices.

Her directorial debut, The Girl, made her the first woman to direct a feature film in Hungary.  She later became the first female filmmaker to win the Golden Bear at the Berlinale with Adoption. In her highly acclaimed Diary Trilogy, Mészáros employs a refined and sophisticated film language, intertwining her suffering with her country’s tragic history, evoking both agony and catharsis.  Additionally, the retrospective references films such as The Red and the White and Red Psalm, two epic historical dramas directed by Mészáros’ ex-husband, the legendary filmmaker Miklós Jancsó, whose own achievements are equally remarkable.

The inclusion of auto-remakes by master filmmakers highlights their pursuit of perfectionism rather than a lack of creative ideas.  The 16 classics featured in Two of a Kind: Auto-Remakes by Master Filmmakers demonstrate how these auteurs reinvented their works, reflecting technological advancements, changes in censorship, the passage of time, and the filmmakers’ artistic growth.

From Ozu’s silent and black-and-white film, I Was Born, But…, to the sound and colour of Good Morning, the evolution of Tokyo is captured from pre-war depression to post-war economic recovery.  French director Abel Gance’s two versions of I Accuse express his resolute anti-war stance between the two world wars.

In the case of Hitchcock’s kidnapping thriller, The Man Who Knew Too Much, the British-made original is regarded as a raw gem, while its Hollywood remake is considered a polished jewel.  Raoul Walsh transformed his gangster picture High Sierra into the noirish Western Colorado Territory, showcasing his versatility.  Leo McCarey’s shift from the tender Love Affair to the profound An Affair to Remember can be attributed to his life experiences.

The Back to the Screen section features Ridley Scott’s Thelma & Louise, echoing the themes of fiercely independent women explored in Mészáros’ films.  Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers invites contemplation on his earlier erotic masterpiece, Last Tango In Paris.

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