22 March – 5 April

CRYING ON THE INSIDE: THE EMPATHETIC STARDOM OF TONY LEUNG CHIU-WAI

Quiet and introspective as a child and outcast by his parents’ separation, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (1962–) never aspired to much. In 1982, while working as an appliance salesman, Leung was encouraged to take up acting by his childhood friend Stephen Chow (Shaolin Soccer). After a year of training, Leung landed his first television role. Within two years he was cast in leading roles, primarily in comedy, most famously in the mid-1980s TV series Police Cadet, alongside Maggie Cheung, Chow Yun-Fat and Carina Lau (who married Leung in 1989). Leung’s breakthrough international role was in Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s A City of Sadness (1989). He has since become one of the most sought-after actors in the wider Asia region, working with many of the great directors of his time across a wide range of genres, from highly stylised action blockbusters – John Woo’s Hard Boiled (1992), Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s Infernal Affairs (2002), Zhang Yimou’s Hero (2002) – to subversive arthouse classics like Hou’s Flowers of Shanghai (1998), Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution (2007) and Wong Kar-Wai’s Happy Together (1997) and In the Mood For Love (2000). Following in the footsteps of fellow compatriots Michelle Yeoh and Donnie Yen, Leung recently broke into Hollywood playing the villain in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021). Widely considered one of the greatest actors of his generation, Leung brings a compelling sense of interiority and melancholy to all his roles, a sensibility comparable to the work of Marcello Mastroianni and Montgomery Clift. This season presents a selection of Leung’s most notable roles – often as part of stellar ensemble casts – showcasing his diverse range and deeply empathetic screen presence.

Wednesday 22 March

7:00pm FLOWERS OF SHANGHAI
Hou Hsiao-Hsien (1998) 113 mins – Unclassified 15+

Hou’s beautiful adaptation of a late 19th century novel set in the “flower houses” of Shanghai’s European concession is an extraordinarily hermetic and dreamlike portrait of its circumscribed characters (including Leung in a stellar performance). Hou’s slow dance-like film has a languid, almost-elastic quality, drawing us into the lost and melancholy world of the brothels and their inhabitants as they make their way through the intimate, intricate, ritualised interiors. In this remarkable, atmospheric, somnambulistic film – shot entirely in Taiwan by the great Lee Ping-Bin – the past is indeed another country.


9:10pm HERO
Zhang Yimou (2002) 120 mins – M

Zhang’s bracingly revisionist wuxia features Leung among an ensemble cast of megastars including Maggie Cheung and martial arts legends Jet Li, Donnie Yen and Zhang Ziyi. Set during the historical warring states period preceding the unification of China under the Qin dynasty, the film is divided into five parts, each dominated by a specific colour. Inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, the film offers conflicting accounts of battles with heroic assassins. Features cinematography by Christopher Doyle and action choreography by Ching Siu-Tung (Shaolin Soccer).

35mm print courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive, Australia.

Wednesday 29 March

7:00pm IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE
Wong Kar-Wai (2000) 98 mins – PG

Exquisite, dance-like account of the never-quite-consummated relationship between two lonely married people who suspect their spouses of having an affair. A rondo of glances, meticulously rendered gestures, and the graceful orchestrations of everyday life, Wong’s opus is one of the 21st century’s greatest films, a totally engulfing but distanced portrait of a long-vanished time and place (1960s Hong Kong). Wong’s extraordinary choreography of music, body and image provides the perfect platform for Leung and Maggie Cheung’s intimate, towering performances.

35mm print courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive, Australia.


8:55pm LUST, CAUTION
Ang Lee (2007) 157 mins – R 18+

Lee’s follow-up to the wildly successful Brokeback Mountain, an adaptation of the 1979 novella by Eileen Chang, sparked a whirlwind of controversy upon release for its uncompromisingly graphic depictions of sex and sexual violence. Overshadowed was the film’s identity as a compelling and provocative espionage drama – with a Hitchcockian flair – which blurs boundaries between truth and lies, authenticity and performance, and hinges on stunningly modulated acting  by Leung and Tang Wei. Winner of the Golden Lion at the 2007 Venice Film Festival. With Joan Chen.

Wednesday 5 April

6:30pm A CITY OF SADNESS
Hou Hsiao-Hsien (1989) 157 mins – M

Hou’s most successful film in Taiwan is a complex, panoramic and politically bold family saga beautifully shot by Chen Huai-En. Set at the time of the formation of modern Taiwan, between the end of World War II and Nationalist China’s fall to the Communists in 1949, it is the director’s most ambitious and expansive film. The film’s remarkable dramatic thrust lies in its constant evocation of the precariousness of its characters’ lives, as well as its status as the first movie to openly deal with the “white terror” unleashed by the Kuomintang government. Starring Leung and Jack Kao.

35mm print courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive, Australia.


9:20pm TBA

8 February – 22 February
“THE ART IS VERY JEALOUS”: TONINO GUERRA, WRITING IMAGES

1 March – 15 March
MODEL AND SOUL: THE UNCOMPROMISING CINEMA OF ROBERT BRESSON

22 March – 5 April
CRYING ON THE INSIDE: THE EMPATHETIC STARDOM OF TONY LEUNG CHIU-WAI

12 April – 26 April
RETURN FIRE: MARILYN MONROE, ACTOR AND ICON

3 May – 17 May
SOFT AND HARD: THE HIGH-WIRE CAREER OF BURT LANCASTER

24 May
“THE STUFF OF CINEMA”: THE PROLIFIC INDEPENDENCE OF BILL MOUSOULIS

31 May – 14 June
ONE DAY AT A TIME: THE CINEMA OF TSAI MING-LIANG

21 June – 5 July
EVERYONE HAS THEIR REASONS: THE FILMS OF PETER BOGDANOVICH

12 July – 19 July
MAGIC, WHIMSY AND LIGHTBULB MOMENTS: ILDIKÓ ENYEDI’S TRANSPORTIVE CINEMA

26 July
POWER IN THE COLLECTIVE: THE KEY WORKS OF MERATA MITA

30 August – 13 September
GANGSTERS, GUNS AND GAULOISES: FRENCH CRIME CINEMA, 1945–60

20 September
LOTTIE LYELL, AUSTRALIA’S FIRST FILM STAR

27 September – 11 October
“ALL THE WORLD’S BEDLAM”: SCREWBALL, CZECHOSLOVAK STYLE

18 October – 1 November
NOW! CRIME, POLITICS AND REVOLUTION IN 1960s BRAZILIAN CINEMA

8 November
TEMENOS: THE SHARED VISIONS OF GREGORY J. MARKOPOULOS AND ROBERT BEAVERS

15–22 November
BEHIND THE SCREEN: KINUYO TANAKA, TRAILBLAZING FILMMAKER

29 November
COMING TO AUSTRALIA: WOMEN FILMMAKERS AND THE MIGRANT EXPERIENCE

6–20 December
OSTERN POWERS: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE EASTERN EUROPEAN WESTERN