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The Hong Kong International Film Festival has unveiled a familiar lineup of titles, talks and retrospectives for its 45th edition, which will return to its normal springtime slot (April 1-12, 2021) after disruptions last year caused by the coronavirus.

“For the first time in our history, we will be presenting a hybrid festival consisting of both in-theatre and virtual screenings and events. While our belief in watching films communally on a big screen is unwavering, recent lockdowns and social distancing measures have accelerated our need to explore uncharted waters by embracing an additional online component,” said HKIFF Society executive director Albert Lee.

“The program is well balanced and covers a broad spectrum, from rarely-seen silent classics to contemporary filmmakers’ latest work. I am particularly thrilled to note that the festival will open with two significant Hong Kong films for the first time in recent years. So much for the talks of the demise of Hong Kong cinema!”

The program will open with the world premiere of “Where the Wind Blows,” (previously known as “Theory of Ambitions”) directed by Philip Yung, and starring Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Aaron Kwok, and the gala premiere of “Septet: The Story of Hong Kong,” an omnibus film by seven acclaimed Hong Kong filmmakers including Sammo Hung, Ann Hui, Patrick Tam, Yuen Woo-ping, Johnnie To, Ringo Lam and Tsui Hark.

The festival will close with a screening of “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy,” winner of the silver bear grand jury prize at the recent Berlinale, by Japanese director Hamaguchi Ryusuke.

In between, programmers have sandwiched a further 191 films, including a retrospective of pictures directed by Hong Kong auteur Stanley Kwan, a selection of Wong Kar-wai films marking the 30th anniversary of his Jettone company, and a tribute to Japanese studio Shochiku.

In addition to the opening and closing titles, films receiving gala presentations include the restored version of Wong’s “In The Mood For Love,” and two Cantonese-language pictures “Drifting” and “Time,” about an aging hitman who can no longer cut it.

The cinephile’s paradise section finds room for Oscar contender “Minari,” Roman Polanski’s “An Officer and a Spy” and “Kurosawa Kiyoshi’s “Wife of a Spy.”

Titles lining up in the Chinese-language section of the Young Firebird competition include Cao Jinling’s “Anima,” Qi Rui’s “The Day is Over,” “Drifting,” Lotan’s “Lost,” Li Dongmei’s “Mama,” Chong Keat-aun’s “The Story of Southern Islet,” Han Shuai’s “Summer Blur” and Zhou Zihgai’s “Wuhai.”

The Firebird’s international section includes Christos Nikou’s “Apples,” Taiki Sapisit’s “The Edge of Daybreak,” Nicolangelo Gelormini’s “Fortuna – The Girl and the Giants,” Hilal Beydarov’s “In Between Dying,” Norika Sefa’s “Looking for Venera,” Joao Paolo Miranda Maria’s “Memory House,” Jonas Kaerup Hjort’s “The Penultimate” and Ahmad Barami’s “The Wasteland.”

Still other sections find house room for Japan-Kazakhstan co-production “Horse Thieves: The Roads of Time,” Indian prizewinner “Were is Pinki?,” documentary “Aznavour by Charles,” Isjii Yuya’s “All The Things We Never Said,” and both parts of Take Masaharu’s boxing picture “The Underdog.”