Hong Kong filmmaker to receive Leopard

ROME — The 65th Locarno Film Festival will fete Johnnie To with a career Leopard celebrating the prolific Hong Kong multi-hyphenate.

To has helmed more than 50 films and produced as many, fostering a fresh wave of Hong Kong talents via his Milkyway Image shingle.

The Swiss fest dedicated to indie pics will show a selection of To’s pics plus the international preem of car-chase actioner “Motorway,” produced by Milkyway and helmed by Soi Cheang.

“Motorway,” Cheang’s followup to hitman thriller “Accident,” also produced by To, will screen on the Locarno’s Piazza Grande, Europe’s largest open-air venue, after bowing in Hong Kong and mainland China on June 21. Both To and Cheang are expected to attend.

After churning out commercial hits at home, To became an influential helmer on the international fest circuit with his 1999 minimalist gangster pic “The Mission.” Five of To’s subsequent pics have unspooled in Cannes, including “Breaking News,” “Election” and “Vengeance.”

Locarno artistic topper Olivier Pere praised To’s pics as “authentic love letters to his city, urban poetry which never cease to celebrate Hong Kong’s nocturnal atmosphere, artificial beauty and vital fervor.”

Locarno runs Aug. 1-11.

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