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Hong Kong fest stretches to 23 days

Event will coincide with Entertainment Expo

HONG KONG — The Hong Kong Film Festival has expanded to a whopping 23 days, during which 300 films from 52 countries and regions will unspool.

This year’s event will be the longest ever as its sked has been extended to coincide with Entertainment Expo, the umbrella for eight events including the fest, FilMart and the Hong Kong Film Awards.

Opening pics will be Hong Kong’s “Eye in the Sky,” helmed by Yau Nai-hoi and produced by Johnnie To, and the previously announced South Korean pic “I’m a Cyborg, but That’s OK,” helmed by Park Chan-wook.

“Eye in the Sky,” which preemed in Berlin’s Forum section, will see its Asian premiere at the fest.

Of the 300 pics in the fest, which runs March 20-April 11, 16 will be world premieres, nine will be international preems and 22 will be seen in Asia for the first time.

Among standout pics, according to fest prexy Peter Tsi, is Zhang Yaodong’s “Mid-Afternoon Barks,” about the anonymity and randomness of modern Chinese life. Pic is running in the Asian Digital Competition section as a world premiere, along with “Things We Do When We Fall in Love,” helmed by Malaysia’s James Lee. Pic, about frustrated love, was the title that the fest fought hardest to obtain.

“We tried hard to get this for a world premiere,” Tsi said.

Fest is also showcasing the retrospective “Li Han-hsiang, Storyteller,” a tribute to the late Hong Kong filmmaker organized by the Hong Kong Film Archive.

Event doesn’t have a formal closing film “because the festival was too long,” Tsi said. Instead, it’s treating the Hong Kong Film Awards gala as the closer, he added.

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