Monday, April 27, 2009

Exploiting Cathay's Library of Classics

Mention the Cathay Film Classics and many will remember a golden age of Asian movie glamour, with famous stars such as Ge Lan, Lin Tsui, Peter Chen Ho, Chang Yang, You Min, Yeh Fur, Wahid Satay, Rose Yatimah, Ummi Kalthoum, Latiffah Omar, and Siput Sarawak starring in popular Chinese and Malay classic films made in an era past.

Between 1953 and 1974, Cathay Organisation's studios in Hong Kong - Motion Pictures & General Investment Co Ltd (MP & GI) - made more than 240 Chinese films, while its studios in Singapore - Cathay-Keris Films - produced over 100 Malay films in Singapore and Malaya. These classic titles such as Mambo Girl, Wild Wild Rose, and the Pontianak, embraced a wide variety of movie genres ranging from romance and comedy to period dramas, horror, and suspense.

As a tribute to the filmmakers and movie stars who have undoubtedly helped to shape the Asian movie industry, Cathay Organisation has since embarked on continual efforts in preserving and extending the legacy of these films, by exploiting its library of classics through various means. Conserving Cathay Film Classics In 2004, Cathay donated to Hong Kong Film Archive a total of 213 Chinese film titles, which include about 2,400 film reels as well as some 12,000 related items such as stills, posters, photographs and handbills. In 2007, 90 Malay titles were donated to the Singapore's Asian Film Archive in 16mm and 35mm formats, in an effort to preserve the longevity of the classic Malay movies. Finally in 2009, Cathay-Keris Films has committed to donating the entire collection of Cathay Classic Films (Chinese & Malay titles) in the form of D1 tapes to the Asian Film Archive. These D1 tapes, which store video data uncompressed, is already an obsolete tape format in Singapore. Archival of the movie titles ensure that these films are stored in favorable conditions, undergo restoration, and are made available for non-commercial purposes such as research and education.

Cathay Film Classics On Stage In January 2009, one of Cathay's most well-known titles: Wild Wild Rose, took to the stage at Victoria Theatre in Singapore. The 2009 stage musical, produced by Perry Chiu Experimental Theatre from Hong Kong, was a remake of the original classic film released in the 1960s, directed by Wang Tian Lin and starring famous actress Ge Lan. Another Cathay classic film of the 1960s took to Hong Kong's stage in April 2009. The Greatest Wedding On Earth, with its original film starring well-known actors Leung Sing Bo, Liu Enjia, and Lei Zhen, was successfully reproduced as a stage play presented by Perry Chiu Experimental Theatre. Cathay Film Classics As A Lifestyle Come May 2009, Cathay's history will not only exist in the form of storage mediums and theatre performances, but as a form of lifestyle as well. In a recent collaboration with Hong Kong's lifestyle retail chain Goods of Desire (GOD), Cathay will launch the Cathay Classic Film Tees: a series of retro-stylish T-Shirt collection that is symbolic of Cathay's rich film heritage. These T-Shirts will be sold exclusively at The Cathay Cineplex as well as Clique, an eclectic lifestyle boutique located at The Cathay. The charm of these film classics will continue to linger on in viewers' memories for many years to come through Cathay's various, constant efforts in preserving the titles and renewing public interest.

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