Post-screening conversation with Mok Chiu-yu, film critic Lawrence Lau, and Chanel Kong (Associate Curator, Moving Image, M+)
An Open Letter to the Literary Youth in Hong Kong
Mok Chiu-yu│14 min│1978│Hong Kong
Digital│Cantonese with Chinese and English subtitles

‘1. We must make political films. 2. We must make films politically.’ Mok Chiu-yu’s allusions to Godard’s 1970 ‘What is to be done?’ manifesto are active in his wandering exploration of locations such as Hong Kong’s then newly opened City Hall and Café do Brazil. Punctuated with jump cuts and graphical interventions onto the film strip itself, An Open Letter not only critiques the trappings of intellectual life, but also questions the role of an activist-filmmaker in Hong Kong society.

Mok Chiu-yu (Hong Kong, born 1947) is a filmmaker, writer, translator, and educator who has been involved in social activism since the late 1960s. A co-founder of 70s Biweekly magazine, Mok has been active in people’s theatre and is also a long-time advocate for disabled communities.

Courtesy the artist

Actua1
Philippe Garrel│6 min│1978, produced in 1968│France
DCP│French with English subtitles
Hong Kong premiere

Considered lost for almost half a century—until it was rediscovered in 2014—Actua1 is a ‘revolutionary newsreel’ composed of footage of the May 1968 events in Paris, shot directly from the barricades by unnamed participants.

Le révélateur
Philippe Garrel│62 min│1968│France
35mm│Silent
Hong Kong premiere

Within a fortnight of the events grittily captured in Actua1, Garrel left Paris for Germany’s Black Forest and made a silent film in which a man, a woman, and a child are cast in near-constant movement in starkly lit, pseudo-mythic environments. Leaving France as it nears the ‘inevitable punchline’ of a failed sociopolitical movement, the twenty-year-old Garrel spurned formalistic, word-driven cinema to invoke the power of the silent observer. The visually arresting Le révélateur later became known as one of the Zanzibar Films, a group of loosely associated works made by filmmakers who were present at the May 1968 barricades.

Philippe Garrel (French, born 1948) began making films as a teenager and has since won numerous awards for films such as La cicatrice intérieure (1970), J’entends plus la guitare (1991), and Les amants réguliers (2005). A self-styled disciple of Godard, Garrel channels the autobiographical, the banal, and the intimate moments of life in his works.

Courtesy the artist and RE:VOIR 

Below the Lion Rock: The Joke / Schick: La dispute / Vladimir et Rosa BUY NOW

11 May (Fri), 9:50pm

Below the Lion Rock: The Joke
Wong Wah-kay│15 min│1973│Hong Kong
Digital│Cantonese with Chinese and English subtitles

Hong Kong director Wong Wah-kay played a key role in developing the seminal Below the Lion Rock television series, a narrative programme produced by Radio Television Hong Kong that imparted government policy. One of his earliest episodes, ‘The Joke’ cleverly explores Hong Kong’s inflation problems through a man’s attempts to win over a woman with his humour. With witty allusions to Cao Cao, the price of Coca-Cola, and much more besides, ‘The Joke’ merges the public and private spheres and signals the role of public television in Hong Kong popular culture.

Wong Wah-kay (Hong Kong, born 1943) joined Radio Television Hong Kong in 1966. He produced and directed the first Below the Lion Rock television series in 1972, and the series The Quiet Revolution for Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption in 1975. He continues to manage various television productions in Hong Kong.

Courtesy Radio Television Hong Kong

Schick: La dispute
Jean-Luc Godard│1 min│1971│France
Digital│French with English subtitles

Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin were collaborating on politically charged projects as members of the Dziga Vertov Group when they embarked on advertising work. La dispute, Godard’s commercial for Schick aftershave, is a cacophonous exploration of sounds, wordplay, and the commodified object.

Jean-Luc Godard (French, born 1930) is a writer, critic, and filmmaker known for being at the vanguard of the French New Wave, having made works such as La Chinoise and Week End in the 1960s. He remains active in his pursuit of cinematic experimentation and critical inquiry in politics, genre, language, collaborations, and art.

Courtesy La Maison de la Pub

Vladimir et Rosa
Groupe Dziga Vertov│103 min│1971│France
DCP│French with English subtitles

The Chicago Eight were charged with inciting to riot and involvement in anti-war activities at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in the United States. As members of the Groupe Dziga Vertov, Godard and Gorin present a farcical re-enactment of the trial: the judge doodles on Playboy cutouts while listening to defendant testimony, and the filmmakers cite the inadequacy of the American justice system as they pace along a tennis court. With extensive meta-commentary, the filmmakers (as well as the characters in the story) play out political cinema at its most theoretical, Brechtian, and burlesque—a comedy in the age of 1970s agit-prop.

Groupe Dziga Vertov formed (informally) in the throes of 1968 as a collective cinema practice and produced around nine films between 1968 and 1972. Group members, including Jean-Pierre Gorin and Jean-Luc Godard, interrogated the politics of making a political film through both theory and practice, and their work is known for references to Brechtian forms and Marxist ideology.

GAUMONT – restauration laboratoire Éclair
 

Classe de lutte / The Younger Generation BUY NOW

12 May (Sat), 1:40pm

Classe de lutte
Groupe Medvedkine de Besançon│40 min│1969│France
DCP│French with English subtitles

Suzanne, a wife and mother, works at the Yema watch factory in Besançon, France. Overcoming her husband’s reticence and reprisals from factory management, she comes into political engagement as a workers’ representative and spokeswoman. Concise and strongly evocative of the female voice in the 1968 movement, this is the first film made by the worker-led filmmaking cooperative groupe Medvedkine, in which politically minded workers produced films with assistance or training from technicians and filmmakers such as Chris Marker and Mario Marret.

The groupes Medvedkine (established in Besançon in 1967, and in Sochaux in 1968) are unique not only in the history of French cinema, but also in French sociopolitical history. The groups consisted of filmmakers and factory workers who collaborated to make non-fiction films in order to depict conditions of factory life, expose the exploitation of workers, and advocate for worker interests. Initiated by Chris Marker, the groups also included Mario Marret, Jean-Luc Godard, Bruno Muel, and Juliet Berto.

Courtesy ISKRA

The Younger Generation
Huang Yu, Wu Peirong│93 min│1971│Hong Kong
Digital│Mandarin with English subtitles

After the deaths of their parents, sister and brother Lan and Cow must take care of their younger siblings. Living hand to mouth, they struggle to overcome unscrupulous employers and unfair labour practices. The Younger Generation, with its humanist perspective on social justice, is the first film co-directed by the husband-and-wife team of Huang Yu and Wu Peirong, and stars Nina Paw, daughter of renowned actor-director Bao Fong, in one of her earliest roles.

Huang Yu (Hong Kong, 1916–2013) was one of the most prolific directors at Great Wall Movie Enterprises Ltd., a left-wing Hong Kong film studio that produced Mandarin-language films after the Second World War. In his decades-long career, Huang directed a variety of genre films, including Princess Hibiscus (1957), Hong Kong's first colour puppet-opera film.

Wu Peirong (Hong Kong, born 1926) worked at Great Wall in various roles. She co-wrote and co-directed three features with Huang Yu and directed Boyfriend (1979), starring Nina Paw.
 

Détruisez-vous / Seven Women (episode 2): Miu Kam-fung BUY NOW

12 May (Sat), 4:30pm

Post-screening conversation with film critics Long Tin and Lawrence Lau, and Chanel Kong (Associate Curator, Moving Image, M+)

Détruisez-vous
Serge Bard│70 min│1968│France
Digital│ French with English subtitles
Asian premiere

‘All bridges must be burned . . . an aggressive shock, turning every film into a question mark whose only answer or lack thereof will be the viewer’s own thought process. IN SHORT, THIS SIMPLY MEANS WAR.’1 Serge Bard’s statement from his contribution to Four Manifestos for a Violent Cinema (April 1968) seems to herald the events of May 1968, just a month later. Détruisez-vous goes beyond experimentation to defy the very core of the status quo, refuting all easy paths to cinematic comprehension and challenging the performative aspects of political engagement.

Détruisez-vous has been classified as a Category III film, only viewers who are 18 years old or above will be admitted. Should you wish to receive a refund, please keep the original unused ticket and email m+@mplus.org.hk before the screening begins. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Serge Bard (French, born 1946) began making films after dropping out of his ethnology studies at the Université de Paris X Nanterre in 1967. He helped organise what came to be known as the groupe Zanzibar (see the notes for Le révélateur), named after the African isles, where he had planned to make a film. In 1969, Bard renounced filmmaking and converted to Islam, renaming himself Abdullah Siradj.

Courtesy RE:VOIR

Seven Women (episode 2): Miu Kam-fung
Patrick Tam│50 min│1976│Hong Kong
Digital│Cantonese with English subtitles

Miu Kam-fung, who plays the film’s titular character, addresses her identity as housewife and actress in Patrick Tam’s commentary on the dangers of rampant consumerism, seen as a defining moment for contemporary Hong Kong. In its studied references to Godard, Tam’s work buzzes with modern life—supermarkets, billboards, television—and juxtaposes these references with questions about marital infidelity, middle-class morality, and even political sentiment.

Patrick Tam (Hong Kong, born 1948) is a pioneering figure in the cinema of the Hong Kong New Wave of the late 1970s and the 1980s, and is known for his stylistic experimentations in early Hong Kong television. Aside from directing such seminal works as Love Massacre (1981) and Nomad (1982), Tam also edited key works by Wong Kar-wai and Johnnie To.

Photo©TVB 2018
 

Summer of 1969 / Tout va bien / DIM: Toutes des Marylin BUY NOW

12 May (Sat), 7:40pm

Summer of 1969
Cao Kai│8 min│2002│ China
Digital

As a child of the rock 'n' roll 1960s, artist Cao Kai commemorates the era of his birth with a rousing rendition of the eponymous Bryan Adams song, performed with the fervour of revolution.

Cao Kai (Chinese, born 1969) is an independent curator, experimental filmmaker, video artist, and writer. His practice spans video, experimental film, photography, installation, documentary, criticism, and historical research. Cao has been a key organiser and curator of the China Independent Film Festival in Nanjing.

M+ Sigg Collection

Tout va bien
Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin│96 min│1972│France
DCP│French with English subtitles

It is four years after May 1968. A couple (played by Yves Montand and Jane Fonda) find themselves temporarily sequestered in the boss’s office during a wildcat strike at a sausage factory, while the filmmakers, with devastating humour, cleverly dissect their filmmaking as the film takes shape. The first film Godard made after a serious traffic accident, and the penultimate collaboration between Godard and Gorin, Tout va bien contemplates the aftermath of the revolution as it examines the estrangement of a couple and the breakdown of the intellectual’s role following 1968.

Tout va bien has been classified as a Category III film, only viewers who are 18 years old or above will be admitted. Should you wish to receive a refund, please keep the original unused ticket and email m+@mplus.org.hk before the screening begins. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Jean-Luc Godard (French, born 1930) is a writer, critic, and filmmaker known for being at the vanguard of the French New Wave, having made works such as La Chinoise and Week End in the 1960s. He remains active in his pursuit of cinematic experimentation and critical inquiry in politics, genre, language, collaborations, and art.

Jean-Pierre Gorin (French, born 1943) was a young journalist when he ventured into filmmaking after meeting Godard in 1966. The two later founded the groupe Dziga Vertov. Since the mid-1970s, he has taught at the University of California, San Diego, and has made several significant essay films, such as Poto and Cabengo (1980).

GAUMONT – restauration laboratoire Éclair

DIM: Toutes des Marylin
William Klein│1 min│1971│France
Digital│French with English subtitles

In dialogue with the work envisioned by Yves Montand’s character in Tout va bien, Klein’s cheerful ad brings the famous DIM advertising jingle to life.

William Klein (American, born 1928) is an influential photographer known for satire and experimentation. In addition to making over 250 television commercials, he has directed dozens of films, including Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (1966) and a segment of the omnibus work Loin du Vietnam (1967).

 

Ciné-tracts / Demonstrations in Support of the Defence of Diaoyu Islands in Hong Kong / Seventeen (episode 8): Art and Life BUY NOW

13 May (Sun), 12:40pm

Post-screening conversation with Law Kar, Mok Chiu-yu, Yim Ho, and Chanel Kong (Associate Curator, Moving Image, M+)

Ciné-tracts
Anonymous│approx. 45 min│1968│France
DCP│Silent

The Ciné-tracts are a collection of two- to three-minute silent films made by French directors (including Jean-Luc Godard, Chris Marker, and Alain Resnais) who chose an anonymous, collective approach to authorship. Shot with a Rostrum camera to animate still images (most, if not all, of which were taken in May 1968), each film is a mini-essay to be considered as a direct cinematic and revolutionary intervention.

Courtesy ISKRA

Demonstrations in Support of the Defence of Diaoyu Islands in Hong Kong
Chiu Tak-hak, Law Kar│15 min│1971│Hong Kong
Digital

This short film documents impassioned young faces, slogans, and cityscapes of early 1970s Hong Kong. Chiu Tak-hak and Law Kar’s handheld camera footage—edited by Law Kar with handwritten intertitles—chronicles five days in April 1971, when protesters gathered at various locations around the city to voice stirring opposition to the Okinawa Reversion Agreement.2 The agreement, in which the United States would cede administration of the Diaoyu Islands to Japan, contradicts China’s competing claim to the islands.

Law Kar (Hong Kong, born 1941) is a renowned writer, historian, and film scholar specialising in Hong Kong and transnational film histories. Trained at Rome’s Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, Law has made experimental films and has worked in institutions such as TVB, the Film Culture Centre, the Hong Kong International Film Festival, and the Hong Kong Film Archive.

Chiu Tak-hak is a pioneer in Hong Kong experimental film. He worked as a set designer for the Cathay Organisation and also directed six independent films during the 1960s and 1970s. Since 1972, Chiu has lived in Paris, where he works as a painter.

Courtesy Mok Chiu-yu, Law Kar and Visual Action

Seventeen (episode 8): Art and Life
Yim Ho│39 min│1977│Hong Kong
Digital│Cantonese with English subtitles

An episode of the TVB television series Seventeen, ‘Art and Life’ presents a sobering chapter in the lives of a group of socially conscious young people who have recently returned to Hong Kong after studying abroad. A portrait of young intellectuals as they confront disillusionment amid the realities of contemporary society, Yim Ho’s breezy, melancholic ode to life in the arts is a subtle reference to the real-life founding of a locally influential arts magazine, and retraces the imprints left by youth-led social movements in Hong Kong.

Yim Ho (Hong Kong, born 1952) is a leading figure in the cinema of the Hong Kong New Wave. After completing his film studies in London, he joined TVB in the mid-1970s as a director and scriptwriter before moving into feature filmmaking. He is known for films such as his debut feature The Extra (1978), Homecoming (1984), and the award-winning Red Dust (1990).

Photo©TVB 2018
 

La Commune (Paris, 1871) BUY NOW

13 May (Sun), 3:10pm

La Commune (Paris, 1871)
Peter Watkins│345 min│2000│France
Digital│French with English subtitles
With a twenty-five-minute intermission

The result of over sixteen months of intense research and preparation, and with the participation of over two hundred non-professional actors, Peter Watkins’s extraordinary La Commune (Paris, 1871) intentionally defies conventional definition. This almost six-hour film, shot chronologically over the course of two weeks, presents the experience of the Paris Commune of 1871, in which a radical, revolutionary government made up of socialist collectives briefly held power for sixty-three days in Paris following France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. Although the Paris Commune ended in May 1871, when over fifteen thousand people were killed by the French army in what came to be known as la semaine sanglante (‘the Bloody Week’), it has since had a profound influence on leftist revolutions around the world.

Watkins’s film follows the rise and fall of the Commune in a theatricalised space, where events unfold and interviews and general coverage are conducted by television crews from opposing camps: Télévision Versaillaise, representing the French government; and Télévision Communale, representing the Paris Commune. In long, unedited sequences, the camera moves fluidly within the revolutionary space, as people tell their stories directly to the camera; the television crews provide reportage in the style of the evening news; and intertitles and period photographs are spread throughout to explain intervening events. While they give context and cause for the events unfolding on- and off-screen, these elements can also be considered as a critique of the formal strictures of mass media. They offer possible avenues in which the act of telling stories on-screen can be expanded in a way that welcomes, and even urges, active viewer interpretation.

Rather than merely representing history, La Commune transcends conventional cinematic practice in order to uncover and activate its participatory potential. During extensive discussions before the shoot, Watkins worked with participants—who came from different socio-economic, professional, and regional backgrounds, and held different political views—to elicit their reflections on the 1871 events. This freely informed the dialogue the participants would then prepare for their own roles, regardless of whether they played a Versaillais or a Communard. Integrating multiple voices, humanising opposing views, and expanding media practices are all crucial aspects of La Commune and, as with the other works in this M+ Screenings programme, they reimagine moving image as a crucial, engaged, and radicalising thrust of history.

Peter Watkins (British, born 1935) is a pioneer of the docudrama form. His films wrestle with topics that spur intense social debate and often reveal a critical perspective on the hegemony of mass audiovisual media practices. He is known for works such as The War Game (1966), a film banned from television for over twenty years that won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature; Edvard Munch (1973)3, a film which Ingmar Bergman called a work by ‘a genius’; and the fourteen-and-a-half hour film The Journey (1987), a survey of life around the world in the nuclear age.

Courtesy the artist and Patrick Watkins
 

[1] Philippe Azoury, Notes on Destroy Yourselves: The Silent Gun, trans. Moira Tierney, in ‘Collection Zanzibar’, proposed by Sally Shafto, supervised by Jackie Raynal (Paris: Re:Voir, 2008), 41–42.
[2] In the Okinawa Reversion Agreement, the United States would, in part, return control of the Ryukyu Islands (which include the Diaoyu Islands) to Japan in exchange for the right to have a large military presence in Okinawa.
[3] Ingmar Bergman, quoted in Lewis Jacobs, The Documentary Tradition (New York: Norton, 1979), 5.