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"Critics' Choice 2015" to feature six films showcasing travel experiences (with photos)

     Travelogue is a common theme in film, often reflecting the filmmaker's human concerns, the spirit of the times or historic developments. Now in its sixth year, the popular "Critics' Choice" programme will feature six travel films accompanied by post-screening seminars and workshops, offering audiences a journey of exploration with diverse possibilities along the way.
     "Critics' Choice 2015 - On the Road" is presented by the Film Programmes Office of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and organised by the Hong Kong Film Critics Society. Film critics Cheng Chuen-wai, Matthew Cheng, Thomas Shin, William Lau, Lau Yam and Chang Wai-hung have selected six films based on different travel themes, namely "Initiation", "Searcher", "Rōnin", "Solitude", "Existence" and "Transcendence". The corresponding films to be shown are Theodoros Angelopoulos'"Landscape in the Mist" (1988); Wim Wenders' "Alice in the Cities" (1974); Yamada Yôji's "Tora-San's Tropical Fever" (1980); Marguerite Duras' "The Truck" (1977); Michelangelo Antonioni's "The Passenger" (1975); and Alejandro Jodorowsky's "The Holy Mountain" (1973).
     The films will be shown from April 19 to September 12 at the Cinema of the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) and the Lecture Hall of the Hong Kong Science Museum. Post-screening seminars will be arranged for some of the screenings, at which the film critics and guests will be able to share their thoughts about the films. The six film critics will also host a seminar entitled "On the Road" on April 19 at 4.45pm at the Cinema of the HKFA. All seminars will be conducted in Cantonese. Admission is free.

     To complement the screenings, four workshops on road movies entitled "Get Set - Introduction of Road Movies" (June 7), "Cinema of the Odyssey: Styles of Crossing the Borders" (June 14), "Films of Heart" (June 20) and "Road Movies and Self - Development" (June 28) will be held at the Lecture Hall of the Hong Kong Space Museum from 2.30pm to 4.30pm. The workshops will be conducted in Cantonese by film critics Matthew Cheng, Lau Yam, Chang Wai-hung and Thomas Shin.

     "A journey of growth in between reality and fantasy," is critic Cheng Chuen-wai's description of "Landscape in the Mist". The film adopts the form of a "children's road movie" to symbolically retell the history of modern Greece. A young sister and brother begin a journey in search of their father, during which they meet many people and encounter various examples of life's cruelty and bitterness, turning their quest into a premature journey of growth. As the camera follows their steps through desolate landscapes, the cinematic poem is enhanced by a melancholy soundtrack. The film won the Silver Lion and FIPRESCI prizes at the Venice Film Festival 1988 and Best Film at the European Film Award 1989.

     Film critic Matthew Cheng describes Wim Wenders'road movies as "distinctive", and "Alice in the Cities" is certainly that. It is the first of a trilogy of road movies by German road movie master Wim Wenders, depicting a journey of friendship between an American little girl and a German photographer. The reality-style shooting gives the film a solid sense of the period while also looking at urban cityscapes from an observant angle. The unhappy photographer meets the girl's mother while travelling in America, and she entrusts him to bring her daughter back to Europe. The journey of the duo in search of the mother sheds light on trends of modernisation in Germany and the destruction of the mass cultural myth in America.

     "Tora-San represents the sense of innocence which was long-forgotten in post-war Japan, and the romance and freedom that has given way to economic development," critic Thomas Shin writes about "Tora-San's Tropical Fever". The theme of rōnin in Yamada Yôji's Tora-San Series continues in this edition. While acknowledging an aspiration for individual freedom, Tora-San returns from exile to conserve the dwindling traditional sentiments and family values amid the development of the city. "Tora-San's Tropical Fever" is the most important episode of the entire series, in which Lily reunites with Tora-San in Okinawa. As each other's lost half, they wander between modernity and tradition, pride and indulgence, love and freedom. The film won Best Screenplay, Best Actress and Special Prize at the Japanese Academy Prize 1981.

     "It redefines imagery and language in film grammar, and transforms bleak landscape into transcendental sanctuary,กจ says critic William Lau of "The Truck". The story is set in the immigrant suburbs of Paris. Director Duras casts herself alongside Gérard Depardieu, playing an old lady hitchhiking a lift on a young man's truck - and they begin an extraordinary journey. Duras does not simply adapt literature into film, but redefines the use of imagery, music and language in film grammar. With Beethoven's sublime "Diabelli Variations" as the soundtrack, the bleak landscape is transformed into a transcendental sanctuary.

     "Antonioni's own journey of vast loneliness; a return to his starting point. Might it be a transfiguration, or a dream?" queries critic Lau Yam about "The Passenger". Jack Nicholson plays a frustrated journalist who switches his identity with a dead firearms dealer and returns to Europe with his new identity. Using this new identity, the journalist walks the dead man's path to his tragic destiny. Director Antonioni seems to go against road movie genre by avoiding exciting adventures and reflective apprehension. The subjective consciousness of the film reaches its peak as the camera seems to move away from the characters and experiences the world on its own. The film won the Silver Ribbon for Best Director and Best Cinematography at the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Awards 1976 and Best European Film at the Danish Film Critics' Bodil Awards in 1976.

     Critic Chang Wai-hung was highly impressed by the outlandish plot of "The Holy Mountain", describing it variously as "A guidebook to the Fool's gold, a star pyramid for the Wise Men; the Rebel's leap on matters and the Creators' dream of dreams. And it was a cosmic walk of Jodorowsky, the Magician." The film follows a thief, whose image is ironically stolen for use in the mass reproduction of Jesus Christ statues. He befriends a footless and handless dwarf and wanders in the capitalist world with seven other thieves, who are all experts in their own fields. Directed and played by Jodorowsky, the film's alchemist teaches the thief to turn excrement into gold before turning it into ashes. Yet ultimately he gives up everything to retreat to the holy mountain. For the more than 40 years since its release the film has retained its high regard among critics as a masterpiece of surrealism and transcendence. It won Special Mention at the Taormina Film Fest 1973.

     All films have Chinese and English subtitles. "The Holy Mountain" is classified as Category III, only persons aged 18 and above will be admitted.

     Tickets for all screenings and workshops, priced at $55 and $80 respectively, 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 the leaflet distributed at all URBTIX outlets. For enquiries, please call 2734 2900 or browse the website at

Ends/Thursday, March 19, 2015
Issued at HKT 16:33


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