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HK Film Archive's "People Below the Lion Rock" to revisit 1970s Hong Kong society (with photos)

     In the 1970s, Hong Kong's economy started to take off and the social atmosphere became optimistic, even though many grass-roots citizens still struggled to make a living. The Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) and Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) will jointly present the new series "People Below the Lion Rock" in February and March, featuring 40 dramas from RTHK's "Below the Lion Rock" to show the audience the multifaceted social lives in Hong Kong during this important era.

     The selected dramas were mainly produced in the 1970s and are divided into 13 programmes, which will be shown on February 28 and March 1, 6 to 8, and 13 to 15 at the Cinema of the HKFA. To tie in with the screenings, post-screening talks in Cantonese will be held on February 28 at 4pm, March 7 and 8 at 2pm, and March 14 at 2pm and 7.30pm. Speakers will include Wong Wah-kay, Jack Ng, Law Kar, Ng Chun-hung and David Lam.

     In the 1970s, the Government used RTHK as a channel to promote its policies to the public. Screenwriters explored important public issues by featuring typical daily lives and humorous cynicism. Directed by Wong Wah-kay, the early episodes of "Below the Lion Rock" were mainly sitcom shows. Programme 1 will include "A Humble Means of Transport" (1973), "Treasure Underground" (1973) and "The Joke" (1973), which focus on transportation, construction and commodity prices issues respectively. "An Addict's Tale" (1973) and "For the Children's Sake" (1973) look at the street children and drug addict problems from a third person's perspective. The double-bill film "Save the Kid" (1985) shows how a child addicted to cocaine sees the world, daringly breaking the traditional mould of governmental promotional videos.

     The postwar baby boom led to a shortage of resources and birth control became a major topic of discussion in society. In Programme 2, "The More the Merrier?" (1974) depicts the clashes between a traditional father and his intellectual son over the birth control issue. To salvage the image of the Police following corruption scandals, "The Police" (1974) and "Police in the Neighbourhood" (1974) explored the police-citizen relationship through the perspectives of a rookie cop, an everyday citizen and a neutral commentator.

     In Programme 3, "Rental Burden" (1974) offers a balanced look at rapidly rising rent by considering the overall interests of society. "In Debt to My Parents" (1974) and "My Father's Suit" (1974) are both family dramas. The former discusses child rearing issues in the setting of a cosy neighbourhood teahouse, while the latter brings out the clashes between two generations relating to a Western suit, and also shows bonding and love in the family.

     Wong Wah-kay later shifted slowly from typical family stories to offering more rigorous criticism on social issues. In Programme 4, "Temptation" (1974) is adapted from a real civil servant's corruption case, which sparked an uproar at the time. "Ten Days and Ten Nights" (1975) depicts a cop's persistent pursuit after a suspect and his determination to enforce the law, serving as a satire to point at people's naivety in mocking the Police. Made in reference to the popularity of television in the 1970s, "Childhood" (1975) discusses the effects of watching television on children, as well as the pros and cons of various child rearing strategies.

     Programme 5 will feature three works by Law Hung-chung. "Lesser Men" (1975) explores the problem of child labour through the eyes of young labourers. "A Man of Men" (1977) is a sympathetic portrayal of the tough police profession and the honest people who work in it, while "To Shoot or not to Shoot" (1977) dramatically explores the problem of the Police exercising excessive force.

     Programme 6 will showcase four episodes directed and produced by Cheung Man-yee, who embraced more innovative storytelling techniques. "Home" (1975) criticises the shortcomings of the Government's housing policies and creates a visual contrast with poetic camera movement between new and old communities in the city. Made in the style of an over-the-top farce, "The Opportunists" (1975) reveals the mentality of citizens flipping stocks in the market. "Ten Years On" (1975) promotes the Government's new labour laws and explores issues to be contemplated by both employers and employees through a tragic situation in the working class. "A Family of Three" (1976) depicts family lives under the new public housing policy.

     Among the directors of "Below the Lion Rock", Allen Fong had the most unique style, with his works perfectly combining drama and realism. Programme 7 will feature four of his works. "Football" (1976) explores a soccer star's anxiety and hardship behind the glamour of the spotlight. In addition to exposing the city's traffic problems, "The Hard Way" (1976) also reveals the struggles of different generations to survive in a rapidly expanding city. "The Apprentices" (1976) promotes the Government's new career training courses. "It All Starts from a Crush" (1977) talks about excessive erotic material in the public at the time as seen through the eyes of a heartbroken young man.

     Allen Fong created many memorable characters in his works with genuine concern for people and their stories. In Programme 8, "One Last Shot" (1977) tells the story of a snack vendor who has to choose between his dream of making big money or living an honest life. "The Motorcycle" (1977) depicts the family affection between a father and his son. In "Nightwalker" (1978), a jaded reporter regains his passion in life as he develops a friendship in the street with a wild child, who is waiting for his mother to leave work deep in the night. "For My Brother" (1978) depicts the story of an athlete with disabilities, who must beat the odds in the sports field and prevent his older brother from going astray.

     When Hong Kong became one of Asia's economic powerhouses in the 1970s, the city attracted a massive flow of immigrants from other places in Asia searching for opportunities. Programme 9 will feature two of Fong's works about the stories of immigrants. In "Old Plough" (1978), a middle-aged rice shop owner marries a young Thai bride, yet their newly married life is hindered by cultural and language barriers. "Choice of Dreams" (1978) traces the different journeys of three Taiwanese women in Hong Kong, namely a singer, an unlicensed plastic surgeon and a romanticist writer.

     In Programme 10, Allen Fong's "New Life" (1979) and Wong Chi's "Storm in a Teacup" (1979) both portray everyday men caught in misfortune but with very different endings. In "New Life", an ex-convict decides to start a new life yet society denies him the chance and he turns to dealing drugs instead. "Storm in a Teacup" features a housing estate security guard facing accusations of bribery, which may ruin his engagement.

     In Programme 11, "Old Master Ko" (1978) and "The Insider" (1979) feature respectively the stories of a social outcast mechanic and a man at the edge of sanity. Director Wong Chi vividly captures the mental states of the characters through his lens and carefully devises the settings to reveal their inner worlds. Programme 12's "The Third Person" (1979) and "The Barber" (1979) both explore morality issues involving car accident scams.

     Apart from showing the lives of grass-roots citizens, "Below the Lion Rock" also focused on city crime stories. Programme 13 will feature David Lam's "The Suspect" (1980) and "The Runaway" (1980). The former is about a secondary school teacher who is accused of rape, making him lose his job and family. The latter features a building inspector who is forced to take bribes and becomes a runaway groom when Independent Commission Against Corruption officers attempt to arrest him at his wedding.

     "Choice of Dreams" is in Cantonese and Mandarin while all other films are in Cantonese. All films are without subtitles.

     Tickets priced at $40 are now available at URBTIX. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities (and one accompanying minder), full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Credit card bookings can be made at 2111 5999 or on the Internet at

     Detailed programme information can be obtained in "ProFolio 75" leaflets, distributed at all performance venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. For enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900 or browse the website at

Ends/Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Issued at HKT 11:00


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