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Magnetic Disorder: Film Retrospective of Lina Wertmüller

3 November - 25 November

$64 – $80


The Hong Kong Arts Centre co-presents with the Italian Institute Hong Kong & Macau, Magnetic Disorder: Film Retrospective of Lina Wertmüller at the Louis Koo Cinema of the Hong Kong Arts Centre for the screenings of The Basilisks, The Belle Starr Story, The Seduction of Mimi, Love and Anarchy, Swept Away, Seven Beauties, etc. This programme is part of the annual Italia Mia Festival.

Lina Wertmüller was the first female filmmaker to be nominated for Best Director at the Oscars, but Wertmüller was far from part of the filmmaking establishment. After all, her films were too provocative, too crass, too politically incorrect, and too outspoken. Often blending gender dynamics, sex, class and political ideologies in a volatile mix, Wertmüller’s films burst at the seams with explosive passion, wit and melancholy, refusing to be pigeonholed into genre and ideological borders. Her films were always uniquely her own, without taking any side in political and gender debate. Though she was daring enough to tackle sensitive issues, she had much preferred seeing opposites clash than advocating for a single ideal.

Wertmüller was a celebrated, but divisive figure who had an equal share of fervent supporters – notoriously harsh film critic John Simon once called Wertmuller “the most important film director since Bergman” – and detractors who hated her bombastic filmmaking style, but it was clear that the maestra would not have had it any other way.

To commemorate Lina Wertmüller’s passing in 2021, this programme is screening a selection of her works and a documentary about her life and artistic achievements. The films will be accompanied by after-screening talks.


Some film critics say that they could never quite figure out Lina Wertmüller’s politics, because her films seemed to lampoon everyone. For that, she was a divisive figure for film critics and audiences.

In fact, Wertmüller was already a troublemaker in her youth. She admitted that she was expelled from 15 Catholic high schools and called her childhood “a period of adventure”. It seemed that Wertmüller never stopped being mischievous.

In the early 1960’s, Wertmüller was introduced to director Federico Fellini. Though uncredited, Wertmüller then worked on Fellini’s 8 ½ as an assistant director, officially starting her career in filmmaking. While her debut film The Basilisks (1963) felt more influenced by Italian neorealism than Fellini, she created a unique brand of mixing sexual politics and ideological politics with The Seduction of Mimi (1972). She finally had her first bona-fide hit with comedy Swept Away (1974), a politically incorrect class war comedy disguised as an adventure romance. After Wertmüller became the first woman to be nominated for a Best Director Oscar with Seven Beauties (1976), she became so famous that American comedy skit show Saturday Night Live did a parody of her in-your-face Italian auteur persona, white glasses and all.

After a foray into Hollywood with A Night Full of Rain (1978), Wertmüller returned to Italy, where she remained a prolific filmmaker until the late 2000’s. However, Wertmüller was more than a filmmaker. She was a true renaissance artist who also worked as a puppeteer, a songwriter and a theatre director.

During the course of her career, she was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival twice, won the Otto Dibelius Film Award at the Berlin Film Festival for A Story of Streets, Women and Crime, the Women in Film Crystal Award, as well as lifetime achievement awards from Italy’s David di Donatello Awards, the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. She even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Though her later films did not reach the popularity of her 1970’s films, she remained true to herself, even if it meant having a lifetime of adventure.


3 November
25 November
$64 – $80
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