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Hong Kong Film Festival Reveals Selections for Canceled Event, Plans Prizes Anyway

Little Big Women
Courtesy of HKIFF

The Hong Kong International Film Festival has taken the unusual decision of revealing the pictures it selected for its now canceled 44th edition. It also plans to award prizes in its competition sections, though there will be neither in-person or online screenings for the public.

The festival had previously rescheduled its 44th edition from its usual slot in March, due to the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak. And then set Aug 18-31 Aug. dates instead. But, with the city now facing a third wave of the virus, organizers last Friday bowed to the inevitable and announced the cancellation of HKIFF44 and the smaller Cine Fan activities in September and October.

Now it says that this year’s Firebird Awards and FIPRESCI prize competitions will proceed with online judging. Winners will be announced on Aug. 20.

“The decision to announce the original program is intended to pay tribute to filmmakers whose works merit continuous support and recognition. “We have come across many outstanding films during our year-long preparation for HKIFF44,” said executive director Albert Lee. “By highlighting these films, we hope to promote and champion the art of cinema, even beyond the festival.”

HKIFF44 was due to kick off with the world premiere of two works from Hong Kong and Taiwan, that the festival described as “exceptional”: Man Lim-chung’s “Keep Rolling,” an intimate documentary about Hong Kong filmmaker Ann Hui, the recipient of a this year’s Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the Venice Film Festival; and Joseph Hsu’s “Little Big Women,” a heartrending family drama featuring an ensemble cast of prominent Taiwanese actresses.

A third world premiere, “The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese,” was revealed as the film selected to have closed the festival. Organizers pitched it as an empathetic adaptation of a popular anime series by the acclaimed Japanese director Yukisada Isao, starring Okura Tadayoshi and Narita Ryo.

Films selected to have appeared in gala screenings included: “Days,” Taiwanese master Tsai Ming-Liang’s Teddy Jury Award winner at Berlinale; a new director’s cut of “No.7 Cherry Lane,” by Yonfan; “Shadows,” a psychological crime thriller set in Hong Kong by Singaporean filmmaker Glenn Chan, making his feature debut; Hong Kong director Kit Hung’s sophomore feature,” Stoma,” based on an autobiographical screenplay of the late cultural icon Julian Lee; and “Dear Tenant,” by Taiwanese director Cheng Yu-Chieh.

HKIFF44 Firebird Awards competition line-ups
Young Cinema Competition (Chinese Language)
“Stoma” by Kit Hung
“Be Alive Just Like You,” by Lai Meng-Jie
“The Cloud in Her Room,” by Zheng Lu Xinyuan
“Wisdom Tooth,” by Liang Ming
“Damp Season,” by Gao Ming
“Wild Swords” by Li Yunbo
“Summer Is the Coldest Season,” by Zhou Sun
“All About Ing,” by Huang Zi

Young Cinema Competition (World)
“Piedra Sola,” by Alejandro Telemaco Tarraf
“The Shepherdess and the Seven Songs,” by Pushpendra Singh
“The Alien,” by Nader Saeivar
“Kala Azar,” by Janis Rafa
“Exile,” by Visar Morina
“Los Conductos,” by Camilo Restrepo
“Dust and Ashes,” by Park Hee-kwon
“This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection,” by Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese

Documentary Competition
“Zero,” by Soda Kazuhiro
“Little Girl,” by Sebastien Lifshitz
“Acasa, My Home,” by Radu Ciorniciuc
“Born to Be,” by Tania Cypriano
“i -Documentary of the Journalist,” by Mori Tatsuya
“Once You Know,” by Emmanuel Cappellin
“The Painter and the Thief,” by Benjamin Ree
“This Is Not a Movie,” by Yung Chang.