Friday, September 15, 2006

Hong Kong Asian Film Festival

The Hong Kong Asian Film Festival (23.09-08.10)

Presented by Ying E Chi and Broadway Cinematheque, the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival is one of the biggest film events held annually in Hong Kong. Many new films, shorts, features, fictions and documentaries from Hong Kong, the Mainland, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Iran, India and the Philippines will be presented in different sections : New Talent Award, Local Power, Cineaste Delights, Asian Wide Angle, Director in Focus (Hirokazu Kore-eda), Docu-Power, Shorts Program...

Hong Kong Asian Film Festival

The Opening film is My Mother is a Belly Dancer (Hong Kong, 2006) by Lee Kung-lok and the festival will end with two closing films, Exiled (Hong Kong, 2006) by Johnnie To and Hana (Japan, 2006) by Hirokazu Kore-eda. A special presentation is given to Paprika (Japan, 2006) by Satoshi Kon which was also selected at the Official Competition, Venice Film Festival 2006

The line-up.

New Talent Award :
New Talent Award is presented to a film that demonstrates originality on the subject matter and uniqueness in the way of representation. It highlights the creative force among the up and coming directors in Asia. The selection this year are coming from five different Asian regions, all of which are first or second film of the director, and are considered as independent productions that display a high degree of autonomy in the process of filmmaking.
Rain Dogs (Malaysia, 2006, HD) by Ho Yu-hang
A young Chinese-Indian young man searches for his brother in the city, only to discover that his brother has died from an accident. Attempting to hold on to his family, whose only member left is the mother, the disoriented youngster runs away to a fishing village to be with his uncle, an act that reminisces his dead brother's break from the family before. From the quiet encounters in his peaceful home village to the chaos and excitement of urban centers, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery filled with love, loss and sadness.
Selected also at the Toronto Film Festival 2006
see also site

Reunion (Hong Kong, 2006, DVCam) by Risky Liu
Cantonese opera actor Gei is about to retire and hopes that his daughter Hiu-lam can continue his career. Hiu-lam, however, abandons her Cantonese opera study and becomes a single mother at a young age. Gei and Hiu-lam find themselves in estrangement even after Little Suen, Hiu-lam's daughter, is born. Hiu-lam understands that it is her father's dream to go back to the stage, but she can only rely on him to take care of her daughter. Chance has come when Gei is invited to perform on stage again, but when he gets injured during practice, Hiu-lam decides to act in her father's place.

Reflections (Taiwan, 2005) by Yao Hung-I
Gin is a singer of an underground group. When her emotions are very strong, she takes the “masculine” role in a lesbian relationship. She is with Mi and they agree that their relationship will terminate once either one of them finds a boyfriend. Mi later meets Hau and considers him as the one. Gin feels that Mi is getting away from her. Things get more complicated when Gin's mother leaves Gin for her boyfriend. Gin decides to take vengeance on Hau and gets Mi back. Before making into this film, REFLECTIONS had already inspired director Yao's mentor, Hou Hsao Hsin to make the last segment of his award-winning film, THREE TIMES. If you like Hou's aesthetics, don't miss this one.
Selected at Official Selection, 3 Continents Film Festival in Nantes 2005, Rotterdam Int'l Film Festival 2006, Barcelona Asian Film Festival 2006

Water Flower (Japan, 2005) by Kinoshita Yusuke
A portrait of the relationship between Minako, a high school girl deserted by her mother when she was young, and Yu, Minako's younger half-sister who loves to dance ballet. On a whim, Minako takes Yu to the house of their late grandparents near the sea. As she spends time taking care and playing with her little sister, Minako takes on the role of a mother. While reminiscing on her happy childhood, Minako has reached the age when she feels more and more distant from her father, but holds a deeper resentment for her mother who eloped with another man, deserting her husband and Minako.
Selected at the Official Selection, Berlin Film Festival 2006, PFF Scholarship, PIA Film Festival Japan 2005

The Unforgiven (Korea, 2005) by Yoon Jong-bin
One hot summer night, Tae-jeong receives a phone call from his high school friend Seung-young, who was under his command during their military service in the army. When Tae-jeong meets up with Seung-young, the two estranged friends find themselves haunted by the memories of their army days. A vivid portrayal of men who are both the aggressors as well as the victims, the film examines the dilemma between masculinity, violence and conscience.
Selected at the Official Selection, Un Certain Regard, Cannes Film Festival 2006, Winner of FIPRESCI Award for Best New Asian Film, the Best Korean Feature and Audience Award, Pusan International Film Festival 2005

Local Power :
Local Power is the new section and highlight of this year's HKAFF. This is to showcase a group of young directors and cast, who have been in the mainstream film industry and yet not entirely being absorbed. They continuingly demonstrate their edge and uncompromising attitude in making film, unleashing their powerful energies so as to make their vision seen, their noise loud! With their unyielding passions, we can foresee their future works arriving HKAFF again. Let's feel the local power!
Local Power 1
Local Power 2
Local Power 3

Cineaste Delights :
Time (Korea, 2006) by Kim Ki-duk
Takeshis’ (Japan, 2005) by Takeshi Kitano
Memories in the Mist (India, 2005) by Buddhadeb Dasgupta
The Willow Tree (Iran, 2006) by Majid Majidi
3 Digital Short Films by 3 Filmmakers: Talk to Her (Korea, Singapore, Kazakstan, Thailand, 2006) by Eric Khoo, Darezhan Omirbayev, Pen-ek Ratanaruang
An omnibus project catered for the Jeonju International Film Festival in Korea, the program features three digital short films by Asian filmmakers.

Asian Wide Angle :
Citizen Dog (Thailand, 2005) by Wisit Sasanatieng
First Love (Hatsu-koi) (Japan, 2006) by Yukinari Hanawa
Chocolate Rap (Taiwan, 2005) by Chi Y. Lee
Blue Cha Cha (Taiwan, 2005) by Cheng Wen-tang
Cave of the Yellow Dog (Mongolia, Germany, 2005-6) by Byambasuren Davaa
The Lost Hum (Japan, 2005) by Hirosue Hiromasa
Poet of the Wastes (Japan/Iran, 2006) by Mohammad Ahmadi
Cavite (The Philippines, 2006) by Neill Dela Llana, Ian Gamazon
What the Snow Brings (Japan, 2005) by Kichitaro Negishi
Tokyo Zombie (Japan, 2005) by Sakichi Sato

Docu-Power
Dong (China, 2006, HD) by Jia Zhang-ke
Fengjie, China, 2005. Painter Liu Xiaodong visited the Three Gorges area to create his oil painting series Warm Bed. Twelve local deconstruction workers became the models on his live sketch. Bangkok, Thailand, 2006. Under the Warm Bed series, Liu invited Twelve tropical women as the models on his next painting. Both cities have their own river running across the city centre, galloping forward and never return.
Selected at Venice Film Festival 2006

Junior High (Hong Kong, 2006, DV) by Tammy Cheung
Veteran local documentary filmmaker Tammy Cheung explores the lives and difficulties confronting students, parents and teachers in China rural area in her latest project JUNIOR HIGH. The documentary takes place in a rural area middle school, following the daily life of the students and the teachers of an under-funded school. Adopting the direct cinema approach, the film also attempts to examine the present condition of China's education system in rural areas.

798 (China, 2006, DV) by Shen Xiao-min
798 Art Centre has played important role in the contemporary Beijing art scene. Shen Xiao-min's 798 began the shooting of the documentary in October 2002, when 798 was first transformed into an artists' commune. Through interviewing the artists who witness the transformation of the art space, the documentary records the ups and downs of 798 until its closure last year.

Paigu (China, 2006, DV) by Liu Gao-ming
Life is hardly easy for Pai-gu, a young man who wishes to lead a better life in Shenzhen. He makes his living by selling pirate DVDs of artistic films. With low self-esteem, Pai-gu never believes that he will understand the movies he sells, nor does he believe that he will find an ideal girlfriend. The film illustrates how rapid economic growth shapes urban life and personal goals.

To Live is Better than to Die (China, 2003, DV) by Chen Wei-jun
For Ma Shen-yi and his family, life is nothing but agony. Among the five members of the Ma family, four of them have been infected by HIV and are on the verge of death. This documentary follows the numbered days of the ill-fated family which is torn apart by the fatal disease. Filled with sorrow and sympathy, TO LIVE IS BETTER THAN TO DIE is a requiem for the deceased members of the family.
British Documentary Award 2004, Nominee of Joris Ivens Award. Int’l Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam 2004, World Cinema: Documentary, Sundance Film Festival 2003

Shorts Program
see website

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A good quality line-up with some solid films. The documentary section presents a standing, interesting choice with some good documentaries, such as the memorable To Live is Better than To Die.
I was a bit mixed for Reflections which to me was too closed to HHH's Millennium Mambo's style. Citizen Dog was okay.

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