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HKIFF Puts Hong Kong Firmly In Focus

HONG KONG – Housed in a new Kowloon venue, the Hong Kong International Film Festival (Mar 24 – April 7, 2014) will this year put renewed emphasis on local films.

The HKIFF will open with the twin screenings of Pang Ho-cheung’s social drama “Aberdeen” and Fruit Chan’s Berlin hit “The Midnight After.” The closing film is set as Dante Lam’s “That Demon Within” which also played in Berlin.

“We haven’t had so many Hong Kong films in the festival for four years, and it is the first time that I can remember us having three Hong Kong titles as the opening and closing galas,” said festival programmer Li Cheuk-to.

Another Hong Kong film “3D Naked Ambition,” a sex romp by Lee Kung-lok, will also get a prominent position as a midnight screening. It stars Chapman To (“Vulgaria”) and several Japanese porn starlets.

The festival will include competitive sections and tributes to iconic mainland director Jiang Wen, Iranian helmer Asghar Farhadi and French actress Isabelle Huppert.

The Young Cinema competition section play “Exit” by Chenn Hsiang; “Shadow Days’ by China’s Zhao Dayong; “Macondo,” by Austria’s Sudabeh Mortezai; “Castanha” by Brazil’s Davi Preto; “Forma,” by Japan’s Sakamoto Ayumi; “The Tale of Iya’” by Japan’s Tsuta Tetsuichiro; “Thou Wast Mild And Lovely,” by the U.S.’s Josephine Decker and Uzbekistan-Netherlands co-production “40 Days Of Silence” by Saodat Ismailova.

“We have deliberately broadened out the competition beyond East Asia this year as part of our search for global quality,” said Li. He also noted that four of the eight titles in the competition section are helmed by women.

The festival’s gala section includes Berlin Golden Bear-winner “Black Coal, Thin Ice,” and Asia’s other Berlin competition titles No Man’s Land, Blind Massage and The Little House as well as festival favorit “Tom At The Farm,” by Xavier Dolan, Lukas Moodysson’s “We Are The Best,” Jim Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive as well as both parts of Lars von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac.

The master class section features Tsai Ming Liang’s installation film “Journey To The West,” Wang Bing’s documentary “Til Madness Do Us Part,” Jane Campion and Garth Davis’ “Top of the Lake”, the Coen brothers’ “Inside LLewyn Davis,” and “3x3D” the experimental piece by Jean-Luc Godard, Peter Greenaway and Edgar Pira.

The tribute to Jiang Wen, China’s once-banned, now highly-popular auteur, includes all four of his feature films. Two will be presented in new versions. “In The Heat of the Sun,” will screen in a version longer than the one that previously enjoyed a release in Hong Kong and closer to the cut that unspooled in Venice. “Devils on The Doorstep,” a black comedy in which a Japanese soldier is befriended by Chinese villagers, now plays as a ‘directors’ cut,’ that is restored, digitized and is shorter than the version the HKIFF previously played.

The Huppert retrospective will play Catherine Breillat’s “Abuse Of Weakness” (2013), Michael Haneke’s “The Piano Teacher” (2001), Claude Chabrol’s “The Story of Women” (1988) and Huppert’s breakout picture Claude Goretta’s “The Lacemaker” (1977).

The HKIFF also features a 34-piece series on the unusual role of Hong Kong’s anti-corruption agency in the local film and TV scene: https://variety.com/2014/film/international/hong-kong-festival-to-fete-anti-corruption-agency-1201118286/

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