“Bodies at Rest,” a Chinese-language crime thriller directed by Beijing-resident Renny Harlin (“Die Hard 2”) has been set as the opening title of the Hong Kong International Film Festival. The festival will close with Francois Ozon’s “By the Grace of God,” which recently claimed the grand prize in Berlin.
Between the two events, the festival will unspool 230 titles from 63 countries and regions, of which 64 are world, international and Asian premieres. The festival, under the new leadership of Albert Lee, will run March 18-April 1.
Other highlights include gala screenings of: “Synonyms,” the winner of the Berlinale’s Golden Bear for best film, by Israeli director Nadav Lapid; Peter Jackson’s restored footage WWI documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old”; and “First Night Nerves,” by Hong Kong director Stanley Kwan.
Chinese director Lou Ye’s “The Shadow Play” will receive a special screening after Lou, Jiang Wen, Tony Leung Ka-fai, actress Yu Nan and film scholar David Bordwell announce the winners of the festival’s Firebird Young Cinema Award. The competitive section has been expanded to include an additional section for Chinese films.
Screenings and talk sessions are set with leading international film makers. They include: Asghar Farhadi, after the screening of “Everybody Knows”; Lee Chang-dong, after screenings of his restored “Peppermint Candy” and recent hit “Burning”; and Jiang Wen, following his “Hidden Man.” Other filmmakers in attendance include Angela Schanelec, documentarian Vitaly Mansky, and Taiwan-based Tsai Ming-liang.
Retrospectives include a 10-film tribute to action master Sammo Hung, named as HKIFF’s Filmmaker in Focus, and a 10-film panorama celebrating the centenary of Korean cinema. The festival and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra will present “Swire Classic Insights: Michael Nyman 75th Birthday –Beyond The Piano,” a concert honoring Michael Nyman, one of Britain’s most celebrated contemporary composers.
Among the international titles making an appearance in the global vision section are “Ayka,” “The Ground Beneath My Feet,” “Manta Ray,” and “Tel Aviv on Fire.” The indie section includes “Bulbul Can Sing,” “Nakorn-Sawan,” and “The Red Phallus.” The Cinephile Paradise section finds berths for Oscar-winner “Free Solo,” “Cold War,” and “Varda by Agnes.”