Easter is easily my favourite time of year in Hong Kong. Not only do we have the holidays, the Rugby Sevens and my birthday, but it is also when the Hong Kong International Film Festival takes place, a 16-day celebration of the very best that World Cinema has to offer. Running in conjunction with equally exciting events like Hong Kong Filmart, the HK-Asia Film Financing Forum and the Asian Film Awards, the HK International Film Festival delivers both a slew of World Premieres of new Chinese language films, but also a number of high profile regional premieres that have been delighting film aficionados at festivals around the world over the course of the past 12 months. Today, the full line-up has been announced and over the next few days we will be combing through the hundreds of new films coming to Hong Kong, in addition to a number of top drawer retrospectives and restored classics, for which the festival is also well renowned.
Today we begin by profiling the big dogs - the gala premieres of this year's event, including the festivals opening and closing films.
Opening Film: LOVE IN THE BUFF (World Premiere)
Pang Ho Cheung's follow-up to the hugely successful LOVE IN A PUFF (34th HKIFF) continues to follow the romance of chain-smokers Jimmy (Shawn Yue) and Cherie (Miriam Yeung), or rather its demise as, six months on, both have moved to Beijing to follow their careers, and their relationship has suffered as a result.
Closing Film: WHITE DEER PLAIN (Asian Premiere)
Adapted from the explicit and highly controversial novel by director Wang Quan'an (APART TOGETHER), this epic tale of land battles between two feuding families in Shaanxi Province centres around the arrival of a beautiful young woman (Kitty Zhang), which only makes things worse.
BEAUTIFUL 2012 (World Premiere)
Filmmakers Ann Hui (A SIMPLE LIFE), Gu Changwei (LOVE FOR LIFE), Tsai Ming Liang (THE WAYWARD CLOUD) and Kim Tae Yong (LATE AUTUMN) each give their unique answer to the eternal question "What is beauty?" in this anthology film starring Yan Lianke, Lee Kang-Sheng, Gong Hyo jin and Francis Ng.
Angelina Maccarone's cinematic biography of model-turned-actress Charlotte Rampling, the star of films like THE NIGHT PORTER, UNDER THE SAND and MELANCHOLIA reveals herself through a series of candid and exploratory conversations with friends and collaborators.
DECLARATION OF WAR
Set against the backdrop of the Iraqi War, this spirited quasi-musical from actress/director Valerie Donzelli somehow manages to take the incredible tragedy of a young couple who discover their newborn baby has a brain tumour and create one of the year's most charming films.
Awards Gala - 10+10
Taiwan has one of the most exciting film industries in Asia at the moment and in this collage of the country's diverse and talented pool of filmmakers, 20 local directors each have five minutes to express why they feel Taiwan is so unique. Contributors include Hou Hsiao Hsien, Wei Te Sheng, Arvin Chen, Chung Mong Hong and Sylvia Chang, to name but a few.
The Gala Presentation category also includes the following films:
COME AS YOU ARE - dir. Geoffrey Enthoven, Belgium (Asian Premiere)
TAKE THIS WALTZ - dir. Sarah Polley, Canada (Asian Premiere)
MY PIECE OF THE PIE - dir. Cedric Klapisch, France
ALMANYA: WELCOME TO GERMANY - dir. Yasemin Sandrelli, Germany
MONSIEUR LAZHAR - dir. Phillippe Falardeau, Canada
FOOTNOTE - dir. Joseph Cedar, Israel
13 ASSASSINS - dir. Miike Takashi, Japan
HARA-KIRI: DEATH OF A SAMURAI (3D) - dir. Miike Takashi, Japan
MISS BALA - dir. Gerardo Naranjo, Mexico
CORIOLANUS - dir. Ralph Fiennes, UK
THE DEEP BLUE SEA - dir. Terrence Davies, UK (Asian Premiere)
SHAME - dir. Steve McQueen, UK
TRISHNA - dir. Michael Winterbottom, UK
RESTLESS - Gus Van Sant, USA
There is loads more coverage still to come, and you can check out the full line-up online and book tickets starting Saturday 25 February by following the link below.