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Hong Kong IFF 2013: loves local, and a bit of Kiwi

Having opened with a glitzy red carpet bash and the world premiere of Herman Yau’s Ip Man – The Final Fight, the 2013 HKIFF closed its doors with a bash honouring winners, Zia Mandviwalla included.

In between, the festival played some 300 titles from 68 countries, hosted premiere screenings of several local titles including Johnnie To’s Drug War, and presented a masterclass from local auteur Wong Kar Wai, whose Berlin-premiered The Grandmaster also played in the festival programme.

Another local filmmaker featuring prominently in the festival programme was director and producer Andrew Lau as a Focus On presentation, which included 11 of his 42 titles as director from 1987’s City on Fire via (among others) Infernal Affairs through to his 2012 Guillotines and The Last Tycoon – the latter of which helped Chinese production and distribution company Bona to a small loss for the year.

From further afield the festival played some of this year’s crop of big-name restorations, including David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia (which makes its way here later in April as part of the NZIFF’s Autumn Events season) and a strong selection of new Asian titles, among which Ryii Seung-wan’s taut and appropriately Berlin-premiered spy thriller The Berlin File led the pack.

NZ selections were limited to Night Shift in the shorts competition and the Ant Timpson-produced ABCs of Death, playing in the festival’s Midnight Heat strand with an all-Asian omnibus title, Horror Stories, Danny Boyle’s Trance and Martin McDonagh’s excellent Seven Psychopaths.

Mandviwalla’s Night Shift picked up another prize for its collection, adding a Firebird to its Oscar-qualifying Show Me Shorts gong. It took the awards ahead of 19 other shorts, and moves on to Aspen Shortsfest next week.

The short film jury was made up of two former festival directors Ulrich Gregor (Berlinale, International Forum of New Cinema 1971-2001) and Simon Field (International Film Festival Rotterdam, and producer of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s 2010 Cannes Palme dfOr winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives), with local filmmaker and lecturer Anson MAK.

Korean filmmaker Park Ki-yong, whose Christchurch shot Moving played the HKIFF last year (and premiered at the NZIFF in 2011) was a jury member for the festival’s Young Cinema Competition.

The HK festival attracts solid support from local audiences and this year introduced a year round festival-run programme, Cine Fan, which will run monthly offering a fascinating grab bag of predominantly international fare. A good portion of the programme offers up filmmakers as well as their films, Iran’s Abbas Kiarostami (Like Someone in Love, Certified Copy, Shirin) being first out of the blocks.

The 37th HKIFF award winners were:
Young Cinema Competition
Firebird Award – In Bloom
Jury Prize – All Apologies
Special Mention – Longing for the Rain

FIPRESCI Prize
In Bloom

Documentary Competition
Firebird Award – Roots
Jury Prize – Oh, the San Xia
Special Mention – Redemption Impossible

Short Film Competition
Firebird Award – Night Shift
Jury Prize – Room 606
Special Prize (Hong Kong) – Seong

SIGNIS Award
SIGNIS Award – The Patience Stone
Special Mention – Ship of Theseus

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