The 42nd Hong Kong International Film Festival kicked off on Monday, with the Asian premiere of mystery drama Xiao Mei and the global premiere of Japanese-Taiwanese co-production Omotenashi, and is now in full swing.
Like many movies that comprise this year’s exciting line-up, Omotenashi, which is set in a ryokan, tells a compelling story of self-discovery and cultural interaction, while Xiao Mei is noir cinema at its best with a physiological story of loneliness.
The two tiles are part of a wide selection of 230 films that will be shown in various locations throughout Hong Kong for the next 18 days, bringing to the city fine cinematic works for the delight of movie lovers.
"This year's film festival continues our mission of promoting the latest films and classic masterpieces,” says Wilfred Wong, Chairman of the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society.
From Europe and the Middle East to East Asia, this year’s selection spans across time and countries and is one of the most diverse to date. Local cinema is also celebrated through a 14-movie retrospective series on Brigitte Lin, which includes Wong Kar Wai’s iconic masterpiece Chungking Express – a must-see for Hong Kong film lovers.
Clearly, there is a lot to choose from for hungry cinephiles. Here are five of our top picks:
Sean Baker’s The Florida Project first premiered in late 2017 in the US and earned William Defoe a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the 90th and Academy Awards – finally – is coming to Hong Kong. There are many movies about children out there, but not many capture the essence, mystery, and spontaneity of childhood like this one. With beautiful colours and a stunning performance by 7-year-old super star Brooklyn Prince, it’s definitely one of the best low-budget Indie movies to come out in recent years (it didn’t earn a Best Picture nominee to the shock of many critics).
As the final installment of Takeshi Kitano’s Outrage trilogy, fans of the genre and the acclaimed director have been waiting for Outrage Coda for a long time. The plot follows a former Yakuza boss returning to Japan after isolation in South Korea and offers a unique glimpse into the mythical and emetic transnational criminal organisation.
Based on the homonym French graphic novel La Mort de Staline, the controversial feature (it’s been banned in Russia and other ex-URSS countries) by Armando Iannucci takes a deep look at the political intrigues that followed the dictator’s death in the former Soviet Union. The stellar cast led by Steve Buscemi elevates the events to a delightful example of witty political satire that draws parallels between past and present.
Local drama 29 + 1 gently explores the challenges and aspirations of young women with the story of two different characters finding support in each other as they are about to turn 30. Writer and director Kaeren Pang adapted her one-woman stage show into a movie that speaks to the millennial generation as well as society at large with intelligence and tact.
Taking after acclaimed 2007 novel The Kite Runner, Black Kite similarly tells a story of oppression and hope in a land, Afghanistan, where political instability and war have deprived the population of their passions. The plot follows Arian and his daughter who are forced to fly their kite in secret when the Taliban takes power and bans the activity. This might not be a 'light' or an easy piece to watch but the movie sheds light on the effects of five decades of political turmoil and war in the Middle East in a very original and provoking way.
The Hong Kong International Film Festival runs until April 5. Visit the official website for venues, screening times and ticketing.