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Six degrees

Andrea Chen

 

Yasujiro Ozu, one of the world’s most acclaimed film directors, is being celebrated in a series of special screenings at the Hong Kong Arts Centre this month and next. Five of the Japanese filmmaker’s masterpieces, including Late Autumn and Record of a Tenement Gentleman are being shown to mark the 50th anniversary of his death. Last year, Ozu’s Tokyo Story was chosen as the third “greatest film of all time” in British film magazine Sight & Sound’s annual poll of selected directors. The magazine is published by the British Film Institute, whose chairman is Greg Dyke …

The veteran television journalist served as director general of the BBC from 2000 until 2004. His stewardship was marred when he was severely criticised and subsequently resigned over a story the BBC broadcast in 2003 claiming the British government had “sexed up” a report into Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. In 2011, on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, Dyke declared the News of the World newspaper had “nothing to do with a free press, or a decent democracy”. He was confronting the paper’s former deputy features editor, Paul McMullen …

McMullen worked for the now-defunct Sunday tabloid from 1994 to 2001 and was one of the few journalists to admit on record that phone hacking was rife in its newsroom and to defend the practice, telling an inquiry into press standards that hacking into the voicemails of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler was “perfectly acceptable”. The “bugger” had himself earlier been “bugged” in his own bar, The Castle Inn in Dover, Kent – his confession that News of the World editors had ordered journalists to engage in phone tapping was secretly taped by a customer, Hugh Grant …

The British actor, who was so “badly treated” by the British tabloids that he became an advocate for state regulation of the press, is best known for playing the role of the bumbling-but-charming Englishman in such romantic comedies as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’ Diary. Grant also played Frederic Chopin in the 1991 film Impromptu, about the Polish composer’s relationship with French novelist George Sand …

Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin – who like her English contemporary and sort-of namesake Mary Anne Evans (George Eliot), chose to write under a male pseudonym – based much of her work on her own romantic affairs, including those with Chopin and the poet Alfred de Musset. Her novel A Winter in Majorca is about the time she spent on the island with Chopin in 1838. The story of Sand’s affair with de Musset was also turned into a film, The Children of the Century, with Juliette Binoche as the female lead. Binoche starred in the 2007 remake of Flight of the Red Balloon, the first Western film directed by Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien …

Elliptical storytelling, extremely long takes, minimal camera movement and extensive improvisation are hallmarks of Hou’s work. His daring and ambitious A City of Sadness, from 1989, focused on the then-taboo subject of the “2-28 incident” – the massacre of native Taiwanese by the Kuomintang in 1947. Starring Tony Leung Chiu-wai, the film won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival, launching Hou’s international career. In 2003, he was invited by Shochiku, Japan’s leading film and theatre company, to make a tribute film (Café Lumière) to Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu.

 

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