For one night only! This year’s centrepiece Red Heroine is a rare screening of the only surviving silent martial arts film of its era, and includes an original live music score influenced by Chinese folk music and Kung Fu film soundtracks by the Boston band Devil Music Ensemble. This tapestry of ancient martial arts tradition, early-20th-century Asian film and 21st-century music breathes new life into a film treasure that dates back to the earliest boom of wuzia (sword-play) films, long thought to have been lost.
Banned in China after the Cultural Revolution, Red Heroine was made at the height of the martial arts craze in Shanghai (1920s-’30s) and is the sixth episode of a 13-part serial. It tells the story of a young woman, Yun Mei (“maiden of the clouds”), who is kidnapped during a military raid that decimated her village and killed her grandmother. Later rescued by a mysterious Taoist hermit, White Monkey, she trains in the mountains for three years, learning the art of hand and sword fighting, along with powerful magic.
Meanwhile, the villagers continue to suffer under the corruption and tyranny of the Western army. Yun Mei, now transformed into a resolute warrior, returns with White Monkey to exact revenge and fight back!
– Jeff Wright and Heather Keung