The Hong Kong International Film Festival has been pushed back into April from the March slot that for many years has seen the festival open the same week as FILMART, with both events benefitting from the star power in attendance to generate positive media attention.
The festival opens with the third Love title from former enfant terrible Pang Ho-cheung, several of whose films have been deemed unsuitable for mainland release. Led by Shawn Yue and Miriam Yeung, Love off the Cuff (pictured, top) will open the 2017 HKIFF. The very Hong Kong Love in a Puff premiered at the festival in 2010, as did the mainland-set sequel Love in the Buff two years later.
Pang has recently announced his first English-language, Lieland, which will be shot in the US and is based on a collection of short stories from Israeli writer Etgar Keret.
This year sees the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule, and the festival does a fair bit of navel-gazing, including a retrospective programme of titles made over the 20 years since the territory was handed back to the Chinese. The relationship between the independently-minded Hongkongers and Beijing’s rulers has had its ups and downs over the years, although filmmakers in both the mainland and the SAR have seen benefits as well as challenges.
Among the retrospective titles on offer, the best-known internationally are Wong Kar-Wai’s The Grandmaster, Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s Infernal Affairs (remade by Martin Scorsese as multiple Oscar winner The Departed) and Stephen Chow’s Shaolin Soccer. Chow’s The Mermaid (screening in a separate programme in the festival) recently became mainland China’s highest-grossing title.
For those attending Filmart, several of the festival selections are available on the market floor. Lone Scherfig’s Their Finest (produced by expat Kiwi Finola Dwyer) is one such title, on offer at Filmart through HanWay.
Plenty of Asian award-winners make the cut, including Wang Xuebo’s Knife in Clear Water and Brillante Mendoza’s Ma Rosa. Among the more challenging selections Indian director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s Sexy Durga, which won the Tiger award in Rotterdam, has been drawing mixed responses from its market screenings at Filmart.
The Hong Kong International Film Festival runs 11 – 25 April.