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MADE IN HONG KONG: THE FILMS OF SHAW BROTHERS STUDIO

AT THE DAWN OF THE 1960S, on the shore of Hong Kong’s Clearwater Bay, a world capital of sorts came into being: Movietown, the production center of the seemingly unbeatable Shaw Brothers Ltd., a company that had parlayed a movie-theater business in prerevolutionary Shanghai into a global concern dominating both production and exhibition in Chinese-language markets. Looking in aerial photographs like a cross between a low-income housing project and a theme park crammed with ancient Chinese motifs, Movietown was in its heyday a self-contained filmmaking universe open around the clock and churning out as many as seven features at a time—some three hundred were made in the studio’s first twelve years—to fill the screens of Hong Kong and Taiwan and Southeast Asia, and beyond that all the screens of the diaspora of London and New York and San Francisco and every other city with a Chinatown.

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