This Saturday, May 29th, the Asian Institute at the University of Toronto and Ultra8 Pictures are hosting a free double bill screening of two classic Hong Kong supernatural comedies on 35mm as part of Asian Heritage Month. Dubbed "Restless Spirits: Ronnie Yu and Ringo Lam's 1980s Ghost Comedies"
, the films are coming from TIFF Programmer and ActionFest
Director Colin Geddes' recent donation of vintage 35mm prints to the University of Toronto that he rescued from closed down Chinatown cinemas and they are in pretty great condition considering their age and the wear and tear of living in cinema basements. This is a rare opportunity to see these films on... well... film.
Taking place at Innis Town Hall, a block south of Bloor on St. George at 2 Sussex Avenue, the screening kicks off this Saturday at 4pm with Ringo Lam's debut film (straight out of York University) Esprit D'Amour
Supernatural romance and shenanigans abound in Esprit D'Amour, a funny and even tragic romance directed by master filmmaker Ringo Lam (City On Fire, Full Contact). Alan Tam is Ming, a mousy insurance agent engaged to spitfire fiancee Ivy (Cecilia Yip). When investigating the death of the young and pretty Siu Yu (Joyce Ni), Ming meets and falls in love with Siu Yu's spectral form. Siu Yu wants her life insurance delivered to her beneficiary (a five year-old boy), and the charmed Ming is only too happy to go along. But falling in love with a ghost is sure to arouse some suspicion, and when the scheming Ivy catches on, Ming's ghost-man love affair may be in jeopardy. Mixing romance, comedy, drama, and a touch of supernatural tragedy, Esprit D'Amour is wildly entertaining and compelling example of Hong Kong cinema entertainment.
And is followed by Ronny Yu's The Occupant at 8pm:
Five years before their now-classic romantic pairing in The Killer, Sally Yeh and Chow Yun-Fat starred in this 1984 horror-comedy hybrid from director Ronny Yu (The Bride with White Hair, Fearless). Yeh stars as a wide-eyed Canadian college student named Angie, who comes to Hong Kong to do some field research for her study of Chinese superstitions. She gets a bit more than she bargained for when she rents an apartment haunted by the spirit of a spurned singer. As if fending off ghosts wasn't bad enough, Angie also has to deal with the unwanted affections of a sleazy con-man (Raymond Wong, All's Well Ends Well), as well as the sweet-talking detective (Chow) who vows to solve her supernatural case. Chow requires a little otherworldly help of his own after Angie's body is taken over by the ghost, who's hell-bent on reenacting the murder-suicide that ended her life. The Occupant's evenhanded mix of Creepy and Crazy foreshadows Yu's later work on American horror flicks like Bride of Chucky, and although Chow is operating largely in comedic mode, his role as a fearless police detective looks forward to his later heroic bloodshed collaborations with John Woo. But this is Sally Yeh's show, and her wonderful split-personality performance as a naive student of the supernatural possessed by the ghost of a sultry singing chanteuse is what ultimately makes the film a success. (synopsis from www.yesasia.com)
Intervening the double bill between 6pm and 7:30pm there will be a panel discussion on Hong Kong cinema between Bart Testa (Professor of Cinema Studies) and Colin Geddes moderated by Peter Kuplowsky (Toronto After Dark programmer and lazy ScreenAnarchy writer). Oh... there will also be dim sum!
While the event is FREE, it is also encouraged to register for the event. You can do so here
And if you can't wait till Saturday to get your Hong Kong fix, the Toronto Underground Cinema (186 Spadina Avenue) starts its regular programming tonight with Jackie Chan's Rumble in the Bronx at 9:30pm. Tickets for Rumble in the Bronx are $8.
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