Buried Treasures of Chinese Silent Cinema

Approx. Duration: 4 hour 13 minutes

Buried Treasures of Chinese Silent Cinema

Approx. Duration: 4 hour 13 minutes

Buried Treasures of Chinese Silent Cinema

Approx. Duration: 4 hour 13 minutes

Series - Higher Learning

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This special free screening and discussion event, centred on an exceedingly rare screening of three of the earliest Chinese films still in existence, offers an invaluable glimpse into China's largely vanished silent film heritage.


Between and following the screenings ofLaborer's Love, Romance of the Western Chamber and Red Heroine, a roundtable discussion between Chen Biqiang, Senior Research Fellow of the China Film Archive, University of Toronto scholar Bart Testa, Hong Kong film scholar and programmer Sam Ho, and TIFF Bell Lightbox Artistic Director Noah Cowan will place these films in greater context.

Films presented with live piano accompaniment by Laura Silberberg.

Guest Biographies

    • Bart Testa
    • Film scholar Bart Testa is senior lecturer at the Cinema Studies Institute, Innis College, University of Toronto. His courses cover a wide range of topics, including Chinese Cinema, European, Asian and European auteurs, narrative theory and cinema, urbanism and film, experimental cinema, science fiction movies and other popular genres. Testa has served on the advisory council of TIFF Cinematheque and has organized several conferences and film festivals with the Asian Institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, in an ongoing association. He is the author of two books on experimental films: Back and Forth: Early Cinema and the Avant-Garde (1993) and Spirit in the Landscape (1989). In addition, he served as co-editor of the anthology Pier Paolo Pasolini in Contemporary Perspectives (1994), and has published journal articles and anthologized essays, many of them devoted to Canadian films and experimental cinema.

    • Chen Biqiang
    • Chen Biqiang, pen name Chen Mo, is a Senior Research Fellow at the China Film Archive. He specializes in Chinese martial arts films (wuxia pian), Chinese film history and oral historiography. His publications include On Films of Zhang Yimou, History of Chinese Wuxia Pian, A Century of Snapshots from Chinese Film History, and Route to Oral Historiography.
    • Sam Ho
    • Sam Ho is a film critic, curator and researcher. Splitting his time between Hong Kong and the United States, he specializes in the study of Hong Kong cinema but had also written extensively and curated programs on other aspects of cinema. He served as Programmer at the Hong Kong Film Archive from 2005 to 2012, and has taught at the Chinese University of Hong Kong as well as the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.
    • Laura Silberberg
    • Laura Silberberg is a Doctoral student in music composition at the University of Toronto and a nine-time winner of the International Amadeus Songwriting Competition. She has composed music in a variety of genres, including orchestral, chamber, choral, electroacoustic and top 40/popular music, and her compositions and piano improvisations have been featured live on CBC Radio's Here and Now and Metro Morning. Laura has performed as a professional accompanist for silent films screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF Cinematheque and the Toronto Silent Film Festival, and was honoured by Maclean's as one of fifty up-and-coming young Canadians under the age of thirty.

Films in Buried Treasures of Chinese Silent Cinema

    • Romance of the Western Chamber
    • Li Minwei
    • Less than an hour of footage remains of this sumptuous silent costume epic, at the time one of the most lavish Chinese productions ever made.

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    • Laborer's Love
    • Zhang Shichuan
    • This charming combination of Harold Lloyd-like silent comedy and progressive social drama is one of the earliest surviving Chinese films.

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    • Red Heroine
    • Wen Yimin
    • The only surviving section of the thirteen-part serial Red Knight Errant, this barn-burner of an action epic is a prime specimen of the wuxia (martial-arts/fantasy) film explosion of the late 1920s.

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