ROME – Hong Kong hitmaker Pang Ho-cheung’s slice-of-life dramedy “Aberdeen” will open the 16th Far East Festival in Udine, Italy, Europe’s biggest showcase of genre and mainstream Asian cinema, where nineteen European bows and sixteen international preems will screen, including Takeuchi Hideki’s hotly anticipated Japanese peplum fantasy “Thermae Romae II,” which is the closer.
The changing identity of Hong Kong after the 1997 handover to China will be a strong theme, starting with “Aberdeen,” which depicts three generations of a Hong Kong family, but also in more frivolous pics such as Lee Kung-lok’s sex romp “3D Naked Ambition” and Matt Chow’s bawdy “Golden Chicckensss” (pictured) for which star Sandra NG (also the pic’s producer) will be making the trek to Udine, located in Italy’s Northeastern Friuli Venezia-Giulia region. “Aberdeen” also opened this year’s Hong Kong Intl. Film Festival.
Similarly to the Hong Kong fest, Udine has a second opening film, Fujita Yosuke’s “Fuku-chan of FukuFuku Flats” a bittersweet Japanese comedy, on which the Italo fest’s film distribution arm, Tucker Film, is a co-producer.
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Another standout title from Japan is sophomore helmer Hitoshi One’s fresh teen relationship drama “Be My Baby,” which also screened in Hong Kong. It is Hitoshi’s second work after romcom “Love Strikes!”
But aside from Hong Kong and Japan, always with pics on prominent display in Udine, fest director Sabrina Baracetti noted that this year “the Philippines are sending strong signals of a cinematic resurgence, thanks to the local industry’s transition to digital,” she said.
That talent explosion is reflected in six Filipino pics unspooling at the Far East Fest this year, the most ever, including the event’s second closer, Siege Ledesma’s contempo Manila slice-of-life drama “Shift,” about a tomboy call center operative and an openly gay co-worker. “Shift” recently scooped the top nod at the Osaka Asian Film Festival in Japan.
This year Udine will also feature two new sections, one dedicated to docus, such as Ferris Lin’s “Boundless” about Hong Kong auteur Johnnie To, and Andrew Leavold’s “The Search for Weng Weng” on midget Filipino B-movie superstar Weng Weng.
Another new sidebar is dedicated to restored classics which will include Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu’s 1959 “Good Morning,” presented by the fest in tandem with Japan’s Shochiku with whom Tucker Film has closed a deal to distribute a six-pic package of restored Ozu titles in Italy.
As previously announced, Hong Kong multi-hyphenate Fruit Chan will be the guest of honor at Udine where the “definitive version” of his latest work “The Midnight After” will screen.
Fest will run April 25-May 3