Reel to Reel Film Heritage 2021-Rediscover and Restructure: Art and Sensuality in Ho Fan’s Cinema

Reel to Reel Film Heritage 2021-Rediscover and Restructure: Art and Sensuality in Ho Fan’s Cinema

Date & Time

6 Nov 2021 Lost | 7:45pm (03.11) & 7:15pm (06.11)
Yu Pui Tsuen | 2:30pm (06.11)
Seminar | 4:30pm (06.11)


JC Cube




Ho Fan (1931-2016) was born in Shanghai. He taught himself photography at the age of 14 and started his creative life. In 1949, he moved to Hong Kong. He was good at using light, shadow and composition to create a sense of drama, capturing the appearance of small people in Hong Kong, and has won numerous international awards. In recent years, his photographic works have become reminiscence of the locally-flavoured customs and the vistas of the city. Presented by Reel to Reel Institute, ‘Reel to Reel Film Heritage 2021-Rediscover and Restructure: Art and Sensuality in Ho Fan's Cinema’ will screen his still neglected cinematic works. Screenings and seminars will be held from 22 October to 6 November at the Broadway Cinematheque and Tai Kwun. A programme brochure of Ho Fan’s oral history, Filmography and researchers’ articles will also be published. Blue Lotus Gallery, the gallery that represents Ho Fan and his photographic works, will also release a new book, Photography. My Passion. My Life. (We Press) in November, celebrating the 90th birthday of Ho.

As for Ho’s nearly 30 cinematic works, many of the negatives and screening copies are lost since they are mostly produced by independent companies. Some of the existing films are either damaged or sole copies, making circulation difficult and their artistic value neglected. With this first ever retrospective of Ho Fan in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the search for the films’ source is already challenging in its own right. Most films in our selection have been rarely screened locally. It is hoped that this retrospective will help people in Hong Kong to rediscover this home-grown yet internationally renowned artist whose cinematic career has almost faded into obscurity.


Hong Kong|1970 (in France)|B&W|76 min|DCP|Putonghua|German subtitles on print, Chi & Eng subtitles
Co-director: Sun Po-ling
Screenwriter: Hong Kiu (aka James Lai), Sun Po-ling, Ho Fan
Cinematographer:  Ricky Chow
Cast: Chui Yu (aka Chan Chun-wah), Dorothy Fu, Irene Lui, Cheng Tze-tuen

Caught between two entirely different women, an artist finds himself in conflict between the spiritual and the sensual, and at the same time lost creatively in the cultural clash between East and West. Based on Ho Fan's 1966 experimental short Assignment, Part One, Lost depicts the artistic and carnal obsession of the modern creative mind. A departure from mainstream Cantonese and Putonghua films with European and Japanese new wave influences, it is shot with the colours of the 1960s and Lishan, Taiwan as backdrop. Sun Po-ling, an artist in her own right, co-directed and invested in the film, acting also as producer and make-up artist. She took the film to premiere in Cannes in 1970 and then screened it in Germany and the United States, while her ambition to release it locally in the foreign films theatre circuits did not materialise. Lost for half a century, this pioneering independent feature in the 1960s resurfaced in a print found in Taiwan by the organisation. 

* The first digitisation project of Reel to Reel Institute, we commissioned the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute to scan the sole surviving 35mm print in 2K resolution. There are German subtitles on the print, it is assumed that it was the copy which Sun Po-ling brought to overseas screenings. 

^Pre-screening introduction

Yu Pui Tsuen  (III)

Hong Kong|1987|Colour|102 min|DCP|Cantonese|Chi & Eng subtitles
Screenwriter: Manfred Wong
Cinematographer: Manny Hoh Ming
Cast: Dennis Tang, Camy Cheng, Eliza Yue Chi-wai, Endy Chow, Ken Sun

The only period film by Ho Fan is an honest retelling of the 17th-century Chinese erotic novel The Carnal Prayer Mat. A hedonistic scholar with great potential to be enlightened ignores the advice of a monk to lead a life of continence and sees it as his purpose in life to indulge in women and sex. When he leaves his wife with whom he spends day and night in their bedchamber to embark on his sexual escapades in the name of seeking knowledge in the capital city, his journey leads him to his karmic retribution. In this original version, in which the director took pride later in life, two scenes cut for a 1996 re-titled re-release are intact, completing its narrative reflecting its overarching theme and Ho’s creative intent for this aesthetically and conceptually meticulous work, a testament of his narrative and artistic maturity. 

* The negative of the film was digitised in HD and colour graded by the film company before being encoded into DCP for this screening.

^ Pre-screening introduction

Seminar: Ho Fan's Early Experimental Works

Ho Fan started making 8mm and 16mm experimental films with his fellows in the 1960s. He then joined the College Cine Club and participated in making and screening aumetur films. As a companion of Law Kar, Ho Fan also helped to edit his work Suspicion (1968). In this seminar, Law Kar will share the experience working with Ho Fan, and there will also be a presentation by Timmy Chen for a part of his academic research on Ho Fan’s photographic and cinematic works. Excerpts from Big City - Little Man and Assignment, Part One (both 1966) will be shown as well.

Date: 06.11.2021 (Sat)
Time: 16:30
Venue:  JC Cube, Tai Kwun
Speakers: Law Kar, Timmy Chen

In Cantonese and Mandarin

Admission: HK$20

HK$20 will be deducted from the total amount when purchasing tickets of one or more screenings with this seminar in the same transaction. This offer is applicable for screenings at Tai Kwun and tickets purchased at URBTIX.

The event will adhere to the latest health and safety regulations and enforce social distancing measures.


Reel to Reel Institute

With the long history of moving image collection and preservation, materials await handling are still vast, though much-needed resources for these efforts are limited. In Hong Kong we face great obstacles in collecting these materials and presenting film heritage to the public, and little light is shed on the collection and preservation of moving images besides feature films. In Asia, a number of non-governmental organisations, for instance those in Japan, Taiwan and Singapore have been founded to contribute to various aspects of audio-visual heritage preservation, complementing existing efforts in this regard. Founded by practitioners of film restoration and programming in 2018, Reel to Reel Institute, a non-profit arts organisation, sets out to learn from the experience of these regional counterparts in our efforts to promote preservation of audio-visual heritage.

Tai Kwun Treats

“Tai Kwun Treats” are now available for the participants of this programme! Get the vouchers and enjoy various privileged offers at designated shops and restaurants.

Get more details!