The Far East Film Festival returns with a hybrid edition for the first time, screening a total of 63 titles from 11 countries and regions and stretching the festival run from its home town of Udine to across Italy and the digital realm.
The 23rd edition of the Udine festival, which has long established itself as a key window to Asian cinema in Europe, will also be expanding its number of physical screenings with five screens, including an open-air cinema accommodating 400 cinema-goers on the Visionario lawn, an initiative that will allow more film buffs to enjoy the cinematic art in person while maintaining safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the fact that the pandemic has severely impacted cinema productions around the world, the festival is able to scout a slate of new features, including those from Macao and Myanmar which will be marking their debuts at the festival. Running from June 24 to July 2, the festival features a total of six world premieres plus 11 international premieres. Among the 63 titles, 46 are in competition. Most of the films will be screened both offline and online, with varied territory restrictions.
Kicking off the festival on-site will be the international festival premiere of Zhang Yimou’s latest spy thriller “Cliff Walkers.” Hong Kong crime thriller “Shock Wave 2” directed by Herman Yau and starring Andy Lau will be making its international festival premiere as the curtain raiser for the festival’s online edition. Hong Kong auteur Fruit Chan’s latest offering “Coffin Homes,” a horror feature mocking the city’s notoriously high rent, will be making its offline-only world premiere at the festival.
Hong Kong has a major presence at the festival this year. Besides the premieres of Chan and Yau’s films, Soi Cheang’s thriller “Limbo” and youth dance film “The Way We Keep Dancing” by Adam Wong are also among the highlights. Seven features by young directors are screened under the brand new Hong Kong New Talents section. Recent local favorites such as Jun Li’s “Drifting,” a heart-wrenching drama on the city’s homeless people, boxing fantasy “One Second Champion” by Chiu Sin-hang, and “Hand Rolled Cigarette” by Chan Kin-long are among the selection.
“Keep Rolling,” Man Lim-Chung’s documentary on the celebrated filmmaker Ann Hui, will be screening in the out-of-competition section.
The screening of Emily Chan’s love story “Madalena” will mark Macao’s debut at the Udine festival, while comedy drama “Money Has Four Legs” by Maung Sun will represent Myanmar.
Ten features from Japan, including boxing story “Blue” by Yoshida Keisuke and Shiraishi Kazuya’s gangster movie “Last of the Wolves,” will be screened alongside a total of seven films from mainland China and six from South Korea in the competition section. Four new features from Taiwan, including the Golden Horse top winner “My Missing Valentine,” “Death Knot” by Cornelia Sunny from Indonesia, “Hail, Driver!” by Muzzamer Rahman from Malaysia and two features from Thailand and two from the Philippines, will also be shown.
The Udine festival will also experiment with a new format with first-time initiative FEFF on Tour, which brings four Asian films — “Better Days” by Derek Tsang, “I WeirDO” by Lyao Ming-li, Hamaguchi Ryusuke’s “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy” and “Shock Wave 2” — to over 20 cinemas across Italy during the festival period.
The festival will also be paying tribute to the late Filipino actor-director Eddie Garcia, who passed away in 2019, and South Korean helmer Yoon Jong-bin with two special sections.