Restored rare Asian films to be screened at Capitol Theatre

Next week, from Aug 25 to Aug 28, seven classics of Asian cinema will be screened, in all their original glory. The films have been restored to original condition, and screened in 4K definition at the Capitol Theatre.
Films to be screened include the Japanese epic Ran (above) and Singapore's Gado Gado.
Films to be screened include the Japanese epic Ran (above) and Singapore's Gado Gado.PHOTO: ASIAN FILM ARCHIVE
Films to be screened include the Japanese epic Ran and Singapore's Gado Gado (above).
Films to be screened include the Japanese epic Ran and Singapore's Gado Gado (above).PHOTO: ASIAN FILM ARCHIVE

Famous and lesser-known restored works will be shown at the Capitol Theatre

From Thursday, rare and classic Asian films will be screened in Singapore, giving cinephiles a chance to see them in pristine condition, projected in a proper cinema.

The first Asian Restored Classics screening of seven films includes famous works such as the Japanese period epic Ran (1985) from Akira Kurosawa, the crime thriller A Better Tomorrow (1986) from Hong Kong's John Woo and the wuxia masterpiece Dragon Inn (1967) from Taiwan's King Hu.

The series is presented by the Asian Film Archive, which selected the films from restoration bodies around Asia. The screenings will be held at the Capitol Theatre, itself newly restored.

Ms Karen Chan, executive director of the film archive, says the series brings to Singapore films never seen here in their restored form.

She says that mixed in with the celebrated titles are lesser-known dramas and comedies such as the family drama Tosuni: The Birth Of Happiness (1963), restored in South Korea, and Charulata (1964) from legendary Indian director Satyajit Ray. "The two films are about female empowerment. They were made in the 1960s, but have leading female characters who are strong and independent," she says.

  • BOOK IT / ASIAN RESTORED CLASSICS

  • WHERE: Capitol Theatre, 11 Stamford Road

    WHEN: Thursday to Sunday, various times, go to arc.asianfilmarchive.org/2016/ for schedule

    ADMISSION: $15 from Sistic (go to www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555)

    Learn more about the seven classics of Asian cinema at http://str.sg/4qHu

Tosuni tells the story of a woman who breaks off ties with her parents to marry the man she loves and through her wits, finds success as a businesswoman. In Charulata, the namesake character is a lonely wife who is drawn into a relationship with a poet, a man who ignites both her passions and her interest in the arts.

Two shorter comedy-musical films are being screened as a double bill - Kakabakaba Ka Ba? (1980) from the Philippines and Gado Gado (1961) from Singapore.

The Filipino work from director Mike De Leon is a madcap tale of locals who run afoul of foreign forces that secretly run Filipino society - a satire on politics in the country.

The Singapore short film Gado Gado features comic legend S.M. Wahid, who is better known by his stage name Wahid Satay. He plays a country bumpkin seeking a better life in the city where he crosses paths with other wacky characters.

"The film was made to showcase stars from the Cathay-Keris Studio, who all made cameos. It's almost like a tribute to Cathay-Keris," says Ms Chan.

The Cathay-Keris Studio, based in East Coast Road, had its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s when it was known for its comedies and horror films, in particular pontianak (female ghost) movies.

She adds that Gado Gado's mix of music and cameos was meant to tease audiences about the calibre of Cathay-Keris' films.

The film was helmed by a Malay director, S. Roomai Noor, at a time when many of the directors were Indian expatriates.

Ms Chan says the film archive's role in bringing restored films to the screen is just as important as the restoration itself. The films will be screened in 4K resolution, which is of the highest quality, so film buffs who already own the works of Kurosawa, Woo or Hu on Blu-ray will have a reason to watch them on the big screen in a beautiful cinema like the Capitol, she says.

"You might have seen Dragon Inn years ago, but here is a chance to watch it again on the big screen and maybe bring someone younger to enjoy it with you," she says.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2016, with the headline 'Rare Asian films to be screened'. Print Edition | Subscribe