Rare gems on film festival sidelines

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 March, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 March, 1996, 12:00am

The scramble for tickets for the Hong Kong International Film Festival is even worse than it is for either the Fringe or the Arts festivals. All the big-name films sell out within days of opening for postal bookings.

But the 20th film festival, which opens on Monday, still has tickets for the many oddities, and these are often the real gems. After all, the blockbusters get here via KPS, sooner or later.

The recent Latin American film season included a documentary about legendary singer Carmen Miranda and the sadness behind the towering heels and head stacked high with fruit. Next Thursday, two films will delve into the life of another misunderstood woman, actress Jean Seberg, most famous for starring opposite Jean-Paul Belmondo in Breathless and hanging out with the Black Panthers.

Attempting to unravel fact from fiction are From the Journals of Jean Seberg (5.45pm), in which Mary-Beth Hurt re-enacts Seberg's life with help from Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave; and Jean Seberg, American Actress (7.45pm), a Swiss-made biopic in which friends, family and old film trace the details of her short life.

The horses in Zeng Shan Qing's paintings are thundering beasts with proud arched necks and an energy reminiscent of the work of the greatest Chinese horse painter of them all, Xu Beihong.

This is not altogether surprising as, in his youth, Zeng took lessons from the great master himself. That was a long time ago, and since then Zeng has lived through the 1949 revolution, and the 1950s, when he was forced to master Western oils and Soviet-style realism.

Now his work straddles both mediums. His latest exhibition of ink and colour on paper is inspired by Mongolian horsemen, racing in their red coats: on show at the Mandarin Hotel on March 28-29.

The culture of China's minorities has long fascinated Han artists, especially since 1949. One of Hong Kong's leading dance groups, the Hong Kong Dance Company, has polished up its production of The Good Earth, choreographed by Professor Ma Yue from the Central University of Minorities.

The Good Earth features four pieces inspired the dances of Uygur Muslims, Mongolians and Tibetans. Performances are at City Hall Concert Hall on March 29-30 (7.30pm) and March 30-31 (3pm).

The Arts Centre's regular Friday Night Nescafe Showtime entertainment slot is at its best when it keeps things simple. This month's programme, for example, features Nanyin, the southern Chinese style of singing stories, originally performed by blind musicians.

These days there aren't any blind musicians playing the circuit, but the sighted variety will be performing Sorrow of the Monk and Burning Paper Clothes for His Dead Sweetheart at the Arts Centre (8.30pm).