The Hong Kong Festival will return to Auckland and make its first appearance in Wellington in its customary calendar slot, hot on the heels of the NZIFF.
The first foray into Wellington in the festival’s five-year history sees a two-title programme, thriller Cold War and Ann Hui’s multi-award winning A Simple Life (both of which have screened previously in Auckland).
The longer-established Auckland event gets a larger programme, screening four contemporary titles (Christmas Rose, Conspirators, My Sassy Hubby, Natural Born Lovers), two classic rom-coms (Behind the Yellow Line (originally Destiny), Women), and a programme of student films from HK and NZ.
The short film programme is made up work from the Academy for Performing Arts, Baptist University, Design Institute, Polytechnic University (all HK) and AUT, Unitec and the University of Auckland here.
In past years, the classic titles have proved a strong drawcard for Hong Kongese resident here, often delivering the festival’s largest audiences. For local audiences the titles offer a chance for a look at some HK film idols before they became established stars, including Chow Yun-Fat (Shanghai; Pirates of the Caribbean 4; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui – both of whom died a decade ago in their forties.
Wellington gets two bites at Andy Lau (House of Flying Daggers, Infernal Affairs, What Women Want), as a spoiled employer opposite Deannie Ip in Ann Hui’s film and as a cop in police thriller Cold War.
In the latter, he butts heads with two of Hong Kong’s other male stars, Aaron Kwok (Christmas Rose, Conspirators and 2011 festival opener City Under Siege) and Tony Leung Ka Fai (Tai Chi 0, Tai Chi Hero, Bodyguards and Assassins). Leung won the Best Actor award for his performance in Cold War at this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards.
In Auckland, Oxide Pang’s Conspirators again features Kwok in another detective tale while Christmas Rose offers him up as a prosecutor.
Of the two contemporary rom-coms screening in the programme, James Yuen’s My Sassy Hubby has shades of (although far more humour than) Richard Linklater’s work with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, most recently in Before Midnight.
My Sassy Hubby revisits Ekin Cheng and Charlene Choi a decade on from the beginning of their arranged marriage in 2002’s My Wife is 18.
The film events of the Hong Kong Festival run 23 – 28 August at Rialto, Auckland; 30 August and 1 September at the Embassy, Wellington.