We present the list of winners of the 42nd Hong Kong International Film Festival held on April 2nd at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.
The 42nd HKIFF announced the winning films in five award categories, including: three events under the Firebird Award Competition——“International Short Film Competition” sponsored by JIA SCREEN, the “Documentary Competition” and the “Young Cinema Competition”；“FIPRESCI Prize” and “Audience Choice Award” as well.
Each competition was judged by an independent jury, including renowned Japanese director Mr. Suwa Nobuhuro; Iranian filmmaker Mani Haghghi; Kent Jones, Artistic Director of the The New York International Film Festival; Cecilia Yip, two-time winner of the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actress; Indian political documentarian Anand Patwardhan; celebrated Hong Kong photographer, director, producer and cinematographer Peter Yung; critic of Asian performing arts Ken Smith; Nuno Rodrigues, a co-founder and the artistic director of the Portuguese film festival Curtas Vila do Conde; Tseng Wei-Chen, illustrious film critic and scriptwriter; local director Adam Wong, winner of the Hong Kong Film Award for Best New Director.
Young Cinema Competition
This section seeks to encourage young filmmakers to explore the potential of the cinema as a powerful medium of our times.
Girls Always Happy by Yang Mingming – China | 2018 – 116 min.
In 2012, Beijinger Yang Mingming bursted out of film school with her short but inventive mockumentary of sorts, Female Directors (2012), in which she and a film school classmate seemed to become recorders of life and love for a new social media generation. She continues to explore female dreams and dynamics in this feature comedy, shifting to a mother and daughter dyad whose quest for fame and wealth through arts takes second place to the verbal interactions that create the film. (HKIFF Catalogue)
What the Jurors said: “A film that explores similar territory from a very different angle, that builds in richness and complexity and humour and insight as it goes, a film that is tough and tender, all at once, and endlessly rich and surprising.”
Daughter of Mine (Figlia Mia) by Laura Bispuri
Italy, Germany, Switzerland | 2018 – 100 min.
Ten-year-old Vittoria is growing up in a village untouched by tourism on Sardinia. One day she meets the impetuous Angelica, who is completely different to her own caring mother, Tina. Captivated by this fearless, independent woman, Vittoria begins rediscovering the island with her. Laura Bispuri (Sworn Virgin, 39th) once again follows her protagonist as she encounters, imitates and questions several role models until she gradually discovers who she is. The warm light of a Sardinian summer accompanies Vittoria on her turbulent journey. (HKIFF Catalogue)
What the Jurors said: “Daughter of Mine is a film that sings with the rhythms and the wonders of the natural world”.
This section recognizes filmmakers for their devotion and contributions to creating documentaries that inspire audiences
Of Love & Law by Toda Hikaru – Japan, UK, France | 2017 – 94 min.
This crowd-sourced activist documentary by Toda Hikaru centers on two men, Fumi and Kazu, who are both lovers and partners in Japan’s only LGBTQ law firm. While affirming their partnerships amidst multiple repressions, these lawyers also take on clients whose issues expand our awareness of the dimensions of “outsiderness” and individuality challenging the status quo in a society that has mingled democracy and modernity with deeply confining traditions and rules. Grand Prize, “Japanese Cinema Splash”, Tokyo International Film Festival. (HKIFF Catalogue)
What the Jurors said: “Through solid activist filmmaking, TODA captures the singular quirks of the Japanese legal system while emphasizing the need for diverse expression in any conformist society”.
The Distant Barking of Dogs by Simon Lereng Wilmont
Denmark, Sweden | 2017 – 90 min.
In eastern Ukraine, orphaned 10-year-old Oleg lives with his grandmother in a village near the front lines of the war against pro-Russian separatists. Gunfire and missile strikes are part of daily life, but Oleg and his younger cousin Yarik spend their time chasing typical boyhood diversions in the countryside, even as the threat of death looms large. While the politics of the military conflict are deliberately avoided in Wilmont’s documentary, Oleg clearly senses the theft of his childhood and the bleak path his future promises.
What the Jurors said: “The Director delivers a palpable pacifist message in the figure of the boy’s grandmother, who avoids taking sides but remains an unmovable object in the path of war.”
Mama by Jin Xingzheng – China | 2017 – 89 min.
Mothers take care of their children. When mothers grow older, the children take care of them. But although Luo Zhangjie is approaching 90, her son, deeply damaged by meningitis, continues to require her care. To top it all, who will take care of him when she is gone? A moving documentary with the visual beauty of Vermeer and the stark simplicity of a fable, it grapples with the cycles of life and the problems facing a changing China. Nominated for Best Documentary, Golden Horse Awards. (HKIFF Catalogue)
What the Jurors said: “Jin Xingzheng’s account of an octogenarian mother’s care for her violent, mentally ill son unfolds as an extreme case of traditional family values that are fading in the age of modernity”
Short Film Competition
The short film is a unique genre for filmmakers to express their creativity and to experiment with the possibilities of expression in a limited timeframe.
Wicked Girl by Ayce Kartal
What the Jurors said: “Wicked Girl is a moving poem of a little girl’s memory, beautiful yet painful”.
The Burden by Niki Lindroth Von Bahr
What the Jurors said: “This short film is a musical comedy which is played by anorexic animals and is against the consumption society, also metaphorizes our world as a galactic zoo on its way to perdition”.
The FIPRESCI Prize recognizes enterprising filmmakers and promotes young talent in Asian cinema.
Girls Always Happy by Yang Mingming – China | 2018 – 116 min.
What the Jurors said: “Through biting dialogues and playing the heroine herself, the director presents a vivid picture of urban values and culture in modern China, without overstating nor sugar-coating her main characters’ flaws, and shows a self-assurance of tone that is remarkable for a first feature”.
Audience Choice Award
The popular “Audience Choice Award” is voted by audiences as in previous years, by an enthusiastic number of voters.
An Elephant Sitting Still by Hu Bo – China | 2017 – 230 min.
In Manzhouli, people say there is an elephant that simply sits and ignores the world. A rookie accidental killer, a man who seeks revenge for his brother, an old man about to be abandoned, and a girl behind bars, all long for escape from the downward spiral and see the elephant. Hu Bo’s electrifying directorial debut is a mesmerizing tale about the emotional negative space in a city where all shattered characters are heading nowhere. Tragically, it’s also the final chapter in his legacy. The writer-director took his own life at age 29. (HKIFF Catalogue)
We remind readers that the 42nd HKIFF is running until April 5th, 2018 so be sure to attend. Go to the main section for the HKIFF here: https://asianfilmfestivals.com/hkiff2018