13 February 2021
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When people talk about "Hong Kong" cinema they usually think about Jacky Chan or Bruce Lee and the early Kung Fu classics. Staring Cantonese-speaking actors these films were among the first to travel the world exporting Chinese pop culture. Local scholars, however, look to another film to talk about the birth of Cantonese Hong Kong Cinema. That film is "The House of 72 Tenents" 七十二家房客 directed by Chor Yuen 楚原. "Tenants" was a box office smash hit when it released in September 1973 and was filmed in Cantonese which was a rarity in those days.
The film follows an ensemble cast living in a large tenement block in post-war Hong Kong. Rapacious landlords, feuding neighbors, and petty beat cops all play their role. Anyone who has spent some time in Hong Kong will recognize at least a few of the stock characters in the film. This will make the film extra funny even if you can't follow the language. "Tenant" is well known as a dialogue-heavy film which is why it's not well known outside of Chinese Cinema circles. None the less this film's success launched Cantonese Hong Kong cinema as we know it today and 4 decades later we're still the recipients of that wonderful gift.
We'll be using Google Meet to screen the film. If you're interested you can follow the characters (there are many!) on this nifty webpage ( http://www.brns.com/pages4/comed144c.html ). As always we'll have a quick post-screening discussion. They're always a lot of fun.
If you're a little bored at home during the New Year celebrations, why not watch this classic film with members of our community.