Hong Kong Film Festival: Local Titles Set in Opening and Closing Slots

The Asian premiere of Soi Cheang’s “Mad Fate” is just one of three locally-produced movies that have been set as the opening and closing titles of the upcoming Hong Kong International Film Festival.

“Mad Fate” is joined in the festival opening slot on March 30 by “Elegies,” Ann Hui’s documentary portrayal of the topography of contemporary local poetry, which will have its world premiere. The closing film, another world premiere, is “Vital Sign,” an affecting drama directed by Cheuk Wan-chi and starring Louis Koo, Yau Hawk-sau, and Angela Yuen, which will wrap up proceedings on 10 April.

In total, the festival has programmed some 200 films from 64 countries and territories. These include nine world premieres, six international premieres, and 67 Asian premieres.

“Mad Fate,” an intense examination of murder, local superstition and the lower depths of society, premiered last month at the Berlin festival in a special section. Cheang will be a major feature of the HKIFF, which will pay tribute to the prolific filmmaker with a previously announced 10-film showcase. He will also hold a masterclass presentation on April 8. 

The festival is to be held in-person and in its usual calendar slot for the first time in 2019. In recent weeks the Hong Kong authorities have eased travel restrictions imposed due to the COVID pandemic and from the beginning of this month have dropped the mask mandate from almost all indoor public places. That has made it easier for overseas filmmakers to return to the event.

Those confirmed include Tsai Ming-Liang, who will bring his latest feature “Where,” and hold a masterclass with Lee Kang-Sheng following the screenings of his short “Where Do You Stand, Tsai Ming-Liang?”.

The festival’s twin Firebird competition sections for young directors working in Chinese and in other languages are also impressive.

The former includes: “Absence” by mainland Chinese director Wu Lan, which premiered in Berlin; “Bad Education,” by Taiwanese actor-director Kai Ko; “Coo-Coo 043,” an already much decorated Taiwan family drama by Chan Ching-lin; “Kissing the Ground You Walked on,” by Hong Heng-fai; “Night Falls,” by China’s Jian Haodong; “Stonewalling,” by Huang Ji and Otsuka Ryuji; “To Love Again,” by Gao Linyang; and “Tomorrow Is a Long Time,” which also appeared in Berlin’s Gerneration-14 section and is directed by Singapore’s Jow Zhi Wei.

The equivalent international competition includes: Berlin hit “20,000 Species of Bees,” “Animalia,” by Sofia Alouai, which won the special jury prize in Sundance; David Depresseville’s “Astrakan”; acclaimed “Autobiography,” by Indonesia’s Makbul Mubarak; Malika Muisaeva’s Berlin film “The CageIs Looking for a Bird”; Argentinian director Martin Benchimol’s “The Castle”; Giacomo Abruzzese’s “Disco Boy”; and Lila Aviles’ Berlin Ecumenical jury prize winner “Totem.”

– More to follow.

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