23 February 2024 (Hong Kong) – The 48th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF48) will present eight restored classics that provides a comprehensive overview of the art form, covering various eras, regions, genres, themes, and styles.

One of these classics is the silent film Kohlhiesel’s Daughters, which stands as Ernst Lubitsch’s most popular farce from his time in Germany.  Often referred to as “The Taming of the Shrew in the Bavarian mountains”, this comedic masterpiece transforms great literature into an amusing tale of small farmers, showcasing Lubitsch’s sophisticated wit through exaggerated humour.  The screening of this restored 4K version of the film will be presented with live music accompaniment by Hong Kong New Music Ensemble.

Fear and Desire serves as a testament to Stanley Kubrick’s artistic talent and ambition.  Despite rumours that Kubrick destroyed the original negative and withheld all copies from circulation, his first feature film has survived.  The complete version, including nine minutes of previously edited footage, will be screened.  This visually powerful work delves into the internal musings of men and serves as an anti-war allegory.  It finds resonance with Roman Polanski’s The Pianist, which intimately portrays the experience of a Jewish pianist during the Nazi occupation. The Pianist received accolades such as the Palme d’Or at Cannes, an Oscar for Best Director (Polanski), and Best Actor (Adrien Brody).

Under this year’s programme, two rarely seen masterpieces will grace the screen. Jacques Rivette’s French New Wave masterpiece, L’Amour Fou, challenges cinephiles with its four-hour duration as it explores theatre, narrative structure, and perspective in both literal and figurative ways.  Meanwhile, Tewfik Saleh’s The Dupes,  which tells the tale of three Palestinians attempting a dangerous border crossing, is a crowning achievement in Arab Cinema.  It weaves an agonisingly suspenseful and captivating drama through a Resnais-like labyrinth of flashbacks and poetic montages.

Michelangelo Antonioni and Manoel de Oliveira, two European master filmmakers, excel in visually portraying alienation, loneliness, and existential crises.  Antonioni’s Il Grido offers a glimpse into the life of a distraught man through a dark lens, delving deep into the emotions and thoughts that drive him towards nihilism.  On the other hand, the Portuguese maestro’s adaptation of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary in Abraham’s Valley presents a mesmerising and contemplative portrait of a beautiful woman in search of fulfilment.

Continuing the theme of exploring solitude, Mexican director Arturo Ripstein treads the delicate line between the bizarre and the poignant.  The Director’s Cut of Deep Crimson, restored in 4K with an additional 25 minutes of savage content, immerses viewers in a world of horrifying depravity through a nuanced portrayal of two woeful losers entangled in serial killing.

HKIFF48 will be held from 28 March to 8 April, spanning 12 days.  The festival will announce its complete programme in March.

The Eight Restored Classics are: –

Kohlhiesels Daughters (1920) by Ernst Lubitsch

Fear and Desire (1953) by Stanley Kubrick

Il Grido (1957) by Michelangelo Antonioni

L’Amour Fou (1969) by Jacques Rivette

The Dupes (1972) by Tewfik Saleh

Abraham’s Valley (1993) by Manoel de Oliveira

Deep Crimson (Director’s Cut) (1996) by Arturo Ripstein

The Pianist (2002) by Roman Polanski

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