Imitation of Life (1934)

  • Dir: John M. Stahl

  • USA, 1934, 111minmins, DCP

  • Cast: Claudette Colbert, Warren William, Rochelle Hudson

Two films directed by John M. Stahl – both adaptations of popular literature – were later remade by Douglas Sirk: Magnificent Obsession and this first attempt at filming Fannie Hurst’s 1933 novel. Two single mothers – a white widow and her black housekeeper – form a strong bond over the years, but the maid’s light-skinned daughter refuses to acknowledge her blackness, internalizing society’s racism as a form of selfhatred directed towards her mother. Stahl’s film differs from Sirk’s with a lighter storyline for its white lead that is less critical of the American obsession with success and appearances, and a treatment of the black daughter’s predicament that is not so overtly sexualised.

Academy Awards: 3 nominations including Best Picture

Time ’s Top 25 Important Films On Race


In-theatre Screening


1. Screenings at ALL commercial cinemas : tickets are available at URBTIX till 5pm one day before respective screening, after which tickets will be available only at the box office of the respective venue on the day of screening, subject to availability.

2. Screenings at HK Arts Centre and M+ Cinema : tickets are available at URBTIX outlets until one hour before the screening, after which tickets are available at URBTIX website and mobile app. On-the-day tickets will also be available at the Self-service Ticketing Kiosk of the respective venue, subject to availability.

3. Unless otherwise stated, all films (except English-speaking films) are subtitled in English.

4. While it is the HKIFFS’s policy to secure the best possible print of the original version for all its screenings, the HKIFFS appreciates its patrons’ understanding on occasions when less than perfect screening copies are screened.