The full line-up of the 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival was unveiled today, boasting over 300 titles hailing from 68 different countries and regions around the world. The 17-day festival will open its doors on Sunday, 17 March and run right through the Easter break to close on Tuesday, 2 April.
Opening this year's festival is Herman Yau's Ip Man - The Final Fight, his follow-up to 2010's solid but overshadowed The Legend is Born: Ip Man. This new movie, which is at least the fifth film to tackle the story of the legendary wing chun practitioner since 2008, stars Yau favourite Anthony Wong Chau Sang in the title role, as an aging Ip Man in 1950s Hong Kong, where he is forced to take on one final opponent against a backdrop of social upheaval in the Walled City. Wong apparently trained for a whole year in preparation for the role, which sees him appear opposite the likes of Eric Tsang, Gillian Chung and Jordan Chan.
The Closing Film is the Asian Premiere of Iranian director Jafar Panahi's Closed Curtain, which was recently awarded the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay at Berlin. Following the success of 2011's This is Not a Film, Panahi continues to work illegally from the conifnes of house arrest, collaborating once more with Kamboziya Partovi to tell the story of two strangers barricaded in the same house: a man hiding his dog and a young woman on the run after attending an illicit party.
Other Gala Premieres at this year's festival include World Premieres of Ronny Yu's period war epic Saving General Yang, starring Ekin Cheng, Adam Cheng, Wu Chun and Raymond Lam; anthology film Beautiful 2013, featuring segments directed by Lu Yue, Mabel Cheung, Wu Nien Jen and Kurosawa Kiyoshi; and Kiwi Chow's drama A Complicated Story, starring Jacky Cheung and Jacqueline Chu in a powerful story of surrogate parenting gone awry. We will also see the Asian Premiere of Taiwanese director Arvin Chen's Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, starring Richie Jen, Mavis Fan and Lawrence Ko, as well as the local debut of Johnnie To's mainland-set crime drama, Drug War, starring Louis Koo, Sun Honglei and Crystal Huang.
There will also be special gala screenings of Stanley Kwan's Rouge and Oshima Nagisa's Gohatto, in memoriam of, respectively, the 10-year anniversary of Leslie Cheung's death and the recent passing of director Oshima. Continuing the festival's run of fantastic restored classic screening alongside the best new titles in World Cinema, this year will see David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia shown in a pristine new restoration, as well as Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate. There is the chance to see Claude Lanzmann's epic 9.5 hour Holocaust documentary Shoah on the big screen, as well as delight in Ritwik Ghatak's masterpiece of Indian Cinema, The Cloud-Capped Star.
But this really is just to scratch the very surface of the delights on offer. In addition to the festival's regular sections, highlighting the best new films from Taiwan, Mainland China, the independent sphere, as well as the best narrative features and documentaries from the festival circuit and midnight offerings, this year's festival sees sections dedicated to New Latin American Cinema, a Swedish Sextect of Scandinavian treats, as well as an in-depth look at the career of Hong Kong's own, Andrew Lau Wai Keung. Over the next couple of weeks leading up to the festival, I will be looking more in-depth at the delights in store.
For more information on what is screening, and to buy tickets, check out the link below to the festival's official website.
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