Stellar Moments of Humankind: The World of Stefan Zweig in Cinema

Venue: Louis Koo Cinema, Hong Kong Arts Centre 
Date: 2022.07.21 - 2022.07.24
Price: HK$80 / HK$64*  
“I salute all my friends! May it be granted to them yet to see the dawn after the long night!”

– Stefan Zweig in his last letter

As the human race straddles an unprecedented pandemic, hostile divisions and conflicts, fake news (and real news) and digital opportunism, we also discover new strengths and beauty of moral courage and perseverance. This programme celebrates the Austrian master of literature, Stefan Zweig (1881 – 1942), who is famed for his steadfast pacifism, insistence on vaster understanding and intricate reading on passion and desire. 

Zweig experienced two world wars. As a famous Jewish-Austrian writer, Zweig’s books were censored, vilified and destroyed by the Nazi in the 1930s and 1940s. He left his hometown, Vienna, to escape German persecution, living in England and America before settling in his final destination, Brazil. When Zweig was in exile, a journalist asked how the writer thought of Germany, he answered, “I will make no prophecy. I would not speak against Germany. I would never speak against any country.”  

Zweig’s work has served as the basis of many film adaptations and inspirations. This programme introduces some outstanding cinematic works that are based on his life and work – from his time (Angst by Hans Steinhoff) to the present (German Film Award-winning The Royal Game by Philipp Stölzl). There will be a special talk by Andreas Dahn, the visual effects artist of The Grand Budapest Hotel (dir. Wes Anderson). 

Coinciding with the 80th anniversary of Zweig’s demise, this programme continues to celebrate his idealism – for he also created stellar literary moments for his past, present and future followers.  



Event Schedule

21/7 (Thu) 19:45 Farewell to Europe
22/7 (Fri) 19:45 The Royal Game
23/7 (Sat) 14:15 White Roses
23/7 (Sat) 16:45 Letter from an Unknown Woman
23/7 (Sat) 19:45 The Grand Budapest Hotel
      After-Screening Talk: Magical Images of The Grand Budapest Hotel
24/7 (Sun) 14:30 Angst
24/7 (Sun) 16:45 Fear
24/7 (Sun) 19:45 The Grand Budapest Hotel (no After-Screening Talk)



Farewell to Europe
Vor der Morgenröte – Stefan Zweig in Amerika

21.07. (Thu) 7:45 PM
Germany, France, Austria | 2016 | 102 mins | DCP | Colour
Director: Maria Schrader
In German, Russian, English, Portuguese, French and Spanish with English subtitles
 “However far I went from Europe, its fate came with me.”

Maria Schrader tells episodically from the life of the world author, Stefan Zweig, who at the height of his career has to leave Austria fleeing from the Nazis. Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, New York and Petrópolis are stations of his exile, which despite safe refuge, friendly reception and overwhelming nature do not let him find peace, cannot replace his homeland. Zweig is a desperate, driven man, always on the move, but without arrival. A visually stunning historical film about a great artist in a time when Europe was on the brink of calamity, this is the story of a refugee – a tale of losing one’s home and searching for a new one.



The Royal Game

22.07. (Fri) 7:45 PM
Germany, Austria | 2021 | 112 mins | DCP | Colour
Director: Philipp Stölzl
In German with English subtitles
“People and events don't disappoint us; our models of reality do.”

Shortly after handing in the manuscript of The Royal Game in 1942, Stefan Zweig chooses a double suicide with his wife. This last work is also his most famous: a swan song to the values of the once proud European culture. The remake now focuses on the story of Dr B and his time in solitary confinement at a Gestapo headquarter in Vienna. There, by chance, he comes across a chess book and learns entire games by heart. Unlike earlier film adaptations, Stölzl adheres less meticulously to the original: the depiction of the physical and mental collapse of an elite class that believes it is immune from the mob until the very end is just one of the new accents that this new film sets.


White Roses
Valkoiset Ruusut

23.07. (Sat) 2:15 PM
Finland | 1943 | 105 mins | DCP | B&W
Director: Hannu Leminen
In Finnish with English subtitles
“To you, who never knew me.”
"Only one thing I did," confides the heroine to her secret love," on your birthday I always sent you a bunch of white roses, the very same ones you gave me after our first night of love. In these ten, in these eleven years, have you ever wondered who sent them?" He didn't, because for the writer she was only a fleeting adventure like dozens of others. White Roses is the yet to be discovered among the five cinema adaptations of Stefan Zweig's Letter from an Unknown Woman. It was directed by Hannu Leminen, a stylist with a keen sense of expressive set and heavy shadows. It is idle to speculate whether Max Ophüls, creator of the famous 1948 Hollywood adaptation, may have known this wartime Finnish production: the parallels are striking and Tauno Palo sublime as Louis Jourdan.


Letter from an Unknown Woman
Brief einer Unbekannten

23.07. (Sat) 4:45 PM
United States | 1948 | 86 mins | DCP | B&W
Director: Max Ophüls
In English with Chinese subtitles
“The course of our lives can be changed by such little things.”
Dream images of a city bathed in melancholy by the snow, over which hovers the foreboding of a great caesura: around 1900, the schoolgirl Lisa falls hopelessly in love with the pianist Stefan, who is spoiled by success. An amour fou that will accompany her for the rest of her life, although she only finds fulfillment in the magic of a long, shared night. Letter from an Unknown Woman is not only “the” Zweig adaptation and considered a classic of literary adaptation, it is also a film that enchants to this day. When the painted landscapes of the world pass by in front of a dummy train in the Prater, it refers to the machine of cinema and the enormous artistry that Ophüls and cinematographer Franz Planer put into their return to Vienna, which was realised exclusively in studios in Los Angeles.


The Grand Budapest Hotel

23.07. (Sat) 7:45 PM & 24.07. (Sun) 7:45PM
United States, Germany | 2014 | 100 mins | DCP | Colour
Director: Wes Anderson
In English, French and German with Chinese and English subtitles
*After-Screening Talk: Magical Images of The Grand Budapest Hotel (Guest: Andreas Dahn, Visual effects artist of The Grand Budapest Hotel)
“We were happy here, for a little while.”
Four Oscars and numerous international film awards are the laurels for this homage inspired by Stefan Zweig's characters and moods from eclectic and master of set design cinema, Wes Anderson. The eponymous hotel in the fictional republic of Zubrowka, located on the "easternmost frontier of the European continent," still exudes the charm of bygone days: concierge Gustave H. and his protégé Zero Moustafa are caught unawares in the intricate dispute over a large family fortune. Intrigue, fraud, even murder - and the theft of a valuable painting weld the two together against the backdrop of burgeoning wars in the 1930s. A colourful, star-studded and amusing as well as profound pleasure.

After-Screening Talk: Magical Images of The Grand Budapest Hotel

Speaker: Andreas Dahn (Visual effects artist of The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Conducted in English
As the VFX compositor of The Grand Budapest Hotel, Andreas Dahn is in charge of the last stage to piece the visual puzzles together and fill in fascinating details to create the seamless shots - blurring the line between fiction and reality, sweeping the audiences’ feet away with a tangible dream. Come learn more about the beautiful images of the film! 
Andreas Dahn
Dahn has been working as a VFX artist in Germany and India. Aside from The Grand Budapest Hotel, his other credits include the Emmy-awarded series, Game of Thrones, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and the Oscar-nominated BBC short, The Gruffalo.


Angst, Die schwache Stunde einer Frau

24.07. (Sun) 2:30 PM
Germany | 1928 | 90 mins | DCP | B&W
Director: Hans Steinhoff
No dialogue, German intertitles, with English subtitles
“She was alarmed, and at the same time felt the pleasures of alarm.”

What is clearly stated in the literary model, the film may only hint at: Inge suffers under her husband, a successful lawyer who only looks out for his own benefit and career. Because their vacation together falls through, she travels alone to the French coast and falls in love with a young artist with whom she begins an affair. Apparently not unnoticed - because back in Berlin she becomes the victim of blackmail. But who could have an interest in destroying her marriage? Steinhoff's film focuses primarily on the back story and on the question of the value of marital fidelity. Contemporary critics were quite taken with it: "A chamber play reminiscent of the best works of Lubitsch and Cecil de Mille, but by no means a copy, instead revealing director Hans Steinhoff once again as an expert with an idiosyncratic talent."



La Paura

24.07. (Sun)4:45 PM
West Germany, Italy | 1954 | 83 mins | DCP | B&W
Director: Roberto Rossellini
In English with Chinese subtitles
“[I]n some vague way she felt cheated of real life by her own comfort.”
Irene, married to a well-known scientist, has a perfect marriage on the outside, but her heart is actually set on her affair with the composer Heinz. When his jealous girlfriend gets wind of the affair, she threatens to expose them and begins to blackmail Irene with brazen demands for money. Their lives increasingly get out of joint... Six years after Germany, Year Zero, the last collaboration of the former dream couple Bergman/Rossellini takes us to a gloomy, rainy post-war Munich, arguably also reflecting the doomed state of their own marriage.

Tickets will be available on

Ticket Price: $80 / $64*

All Access Pass (one ticket each for all 7 screenings with 30% discount, service charge included) - $427

Double Bill (15% discount for when tickets for following pairs of screenings are purchased together)
A: White Roses and Letter From an Unknown Woman
B: Angst and Fear
*20% discount for tickets for full-time students, senior citizens aged 60 or above, and people with disabilities and the minder and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients. Concessionary ticket holders must produce evidence of their identity or age upon admission.
*20% discount to Goethe-Institut Hongkong’s students. Ticket holders must present a valid discount letter upon admission.
*20% discount to HKAC members. Ticket holders must present a valid membership card upon admission.
*20% discount for each purchase of 4 or more standard tickets.
*Only one discount offer could be applied to each ticket purchase. 
Programme enquiries: 2802 0088 / 2582 0282
Co-presented by: Goethe-Institut Hongkong, Hong Kong Arts Centre
In association with: Filmarchiv Austria; National Audiovisual Institute, Finland (KAVI); Italian Cultural Institute
Written by Florian Widegger, Programme Director, Filmarchiv Austria; Brigitte Mayr
Translated by Tiffin Shing, Frances Lai


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Programmes are subject to change without prior notice.

The following measures will be implemented for screenings, to combat the prevailing threat of Novel Coronavirus:

  • All audience must wear face masks and comply with the requirements and restrictions announced by the Government
  • No smoking, eating and drinking. Unauthorised photo-taking, audio and/or video recording is strictly forbidden
  • Staff have the right to deny the admission of any person with temperature higher than 37.5°C
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