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Septet: The Story of Hong Kong

Qi ren yue dui
dir. Ann Hui, Sammo Hung, Ringo Lam, Patrick Tam, Johnnie To, Hark Tsui, Yuen Woo-ping
Hong Kong 2020, 113’
subtitles: Polish and English

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Polish premiere
Theatrical Screenings
We 16 Nov, 20:30
Opening gala
Opening gala
St 19 Nov, 21:00
Kinoteka 1
Kinoteka 1
Awards and festivals
World premiere: Busan IFF 2020 Tokyo FILMeX 2020 - Audience Award
Hong Kong 2020
Duration: 113’
director: Ann Hui, Sammo Hung, Ringo Lam, Patrick Tam, Johnnie To, Hark Tsui, Yuen Woo-ping
screenplay: Kin-Yee Au, Sammo Hung, Ringo Lam, Lou Shiu-wa, Melvin Luk, Roy Szeto, Johnnie To, Tsui Hark, Yau Nai-hoi
cinematography: Man Lung Choi
editing: Mary Stephen
cast: Simon Yam, Lam Suet, Francis Ng, Tony Wu, Timmy Hung
producer: Elaine Chu, Johnnie To
production: China Film Media Asia, Media Asia Films, Milky Way Image Company
language: Cantonese
colouration: colour

Film description

Septet: The Story of Hong Kong comprises seven novellas on the theme of this unique city, each taking place in a different decade of its history. There are Sammo Hung’s recollections from the China Drama Academy, the famous and strict Peking opera school which trained pretty much all later masters of martial arts cinema. Then, we take a walk along Hong Kong’s rapidly changing streets with a touchingly lost Simon Yam, as seen through the lens of Ringo Lam, who died shortly after completing his novella. Finally, we dive into a bizarre, futuristic vision of the city from the boundless imagination of Tsui Hark.

It was Johnnie To who came up with the idea of seven stories showing the Hong Kong of the past. He invited masters of the golden age of Hong Kong cinema to collaborate. Initially, the movie was supposed to be a documentary, but it turned into a feature composed of novellas, a tapestry of each filmmaker’s style, memories, and emotions. The brilliant shorts combine into an omnibus of nostalgia and yearning for the (better?) old times, at once a tribute and a farewell to a period of history which came to an inevitable close.

Marcin Krasnowolski

Ann Hui

Born in 1947 in Manchuria. Graduated from the University of Hong Kong and the London Film School. Director, screenwriter, producer and actor. One of the greatest filmmakers of the Hong Kong New Wave. She won acclaim as the author of socially engaged movies, such as her so-called Vietnam trilogy.

Sammo Hung

Martial arts choreographer, actor in over 200 titles, director and producer. His versatility changed Hong Kong cinema forever. As a child, he was enrolled in the famous China Drama Academy, a Peking opera school where he trained alongside Jackie Chan among others. His movie debut came at the age of 9. As a 14-year old, he was the assistant to the stunt and fight director for King Hu’s Come Drink with Me. As an actor, he appeared in Enter the Dragon, where he went toe to toe with Bruce Lee himself. In 1978, the second movie he directed, Enter the Fat Dragon, brought him great success. The movie was a parody of kung-fu cinema, and Hung became heavily associated with the genre and typecast for years.

Ringo Lam

Born in 1955. Hong Kong director, screenwriter and producer. Known for thrillers and gangster movies clearly touching upon social issues. Frequently worked with Chow Yun-fat, who starred in Lam’s most famous film, City on Fire, which was later the basis for the script of Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. In the mid-1990s, like many of his peers, Lam moved to Hollywood. His first American film was Maximum Risk with Jean-Claude Van Damme. Lam passed away in December 2018, and Septet is his last work.

Patrick Tam

Born in 1948. Director and editor. Like many other Hong Kong filmmakers, he began in TV, where he directed over 30 television movies. He directed most of his feature films in the 1980s. His 1987 Final Victory was written by Wong Kar Wai, for whom Tam edited Days of Being Wild three years later. Nowadays, he rarely works behind the camera, but his television movies from the 1970s and 1980s are considered to be masterpieces of the Hong Kong New Wave, albeit unknown to international audiences.

Johnnie To

Born in 1955. Hong Kong director, screenwriter, producer. His work spans a wide array of genres and styles, but he is mostly known for his masterful gangster movies, such as The Mission, Election and PTU among many others. A legendary artist with countless awards to his name, towards the end of the 1990s he embarked on a mission of safeguarding the high quality of HK cinema, and he worked on this for over ten years. As a director, he is renowned for his skill in combining sharp social commentary with dynamic visuals and unconventional narrative styles. Currently, he often helms projects in co-production with China.

Selected filmography:

1980 Bik seoi hon saan dyut meng gam / The Enigmatic Case

1989 Ah-long dik gu si / All About Ah-long

1995 Mou mei san taam / Loving You

1998 Bohater nie umiera nigdy / Chan sam ying hung / A Hero Never Dies

2001 Miłość na diecie / Sau sun nam nui / Love on a Diet

2003 Daai zek lou / Running on Karma

2005 Wybór mafii / Hak se wui / Election

2007 Psychodetektyw / San taam / Mad Detective

2012 Kartel / Du zhan / Drug War

2016 Trójka / San ren xing / Three

Hark Tsui

Born in 1950 in Vietnam. Director, screenwriter and producer working in Hong Kong and China. Influenced the evolution of modern cinema worldwide. He began his career as an artist of the New Wave, but soon turned his attention to more commercial filmmaking. Indefatigably innovative, he breathed new life in a number of Chinese-language movie genres, creating box office hits and bringing worldwide renown to Hong Kong cinema. In 1983, he was the first artist in the world to combine elements of martial arts cinema with digital special effects in his Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain – a combination which now forms the basis of storytelling in action movies. Currently, Hark is working in mainland China, directing Party propaganda blockbusters, among others.

Yuen Woo-ping

Born in 1945. Legendary martial arts choreographer and director. He began choreographing fight sequences in the early 1970s. In the late 1970s, he became a successful director of kung-fu comedies with Jackie Chan, including Drunken Master in 1978. He was responsible for rehauling the genre’s reputation in the eyes of both audiences and filmmakers. A master of his craft, he was inundated with Hollywood job offers, but only agreed to work on The Matrix when he was assured that his actors would have to undergo several months of rigorous training before shooting his choreography. He is also responsible for the martial arts sequences shown in Tarantino’s Kill Bill volumes 1 and 2, Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster, among others.

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