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22 Film you shouldn’t miss at the 45th Hong Kong International Film Festival (Part 1)

These are twenty-two films you shouldn’t miss at the 45th Hong Kong International Film Festival which will take place in theaters and online from April 1st – 12th (2021) in Hong Kong.

Selected Films:

A Leave by Lee Ran-hee – South Korea | 2020 – 81 minutes
Section: World Cinema | International Premiere

Lee Ran-hee translates her sensitivity as an actress into a compelling character study that reflects dimensions of labour rights in South Korea. It’s a realistic fiction story about a middle-aged man taking a break from a fiveyear sit-in protest against unfair dismissal. Through his relationships with his two daughters and a young man injured in his temporary workplace, Lee paints a striking portrait of a social activist-cum-father entangled in a clash of responsibilities, who never loses his dignity. (HKIFF 2021)

Screening Dates:
April 3rd, 2021 (Saturday) | K11 Art House | 2:30 pm
April 5th, 2021 (Monday) | Online | 12:00 am

Trailer:

Ah Ying by Allen Fong – Hong Kong | 1983 – 116 minutes
Section: Pan-Chinese Cinema

Amalgamating a fishmonger and a filmmaker, fashioned after real personages, Allen Fong experimented with methods of depicting a real-life story in documentary-like style that opened up new avenues in the Hong Kong New Wave. Through Ah Ying’s gritty milieu, contrasting with her aspirations to perform, the film captures a tangible sense of everyday strains and dreams, while simultaneously, reflecting the tensions and contradictions besetting the city. It remains a striking reminder that living in truth is all that matters. (HKIFF 2021)

Screening Dates:
April 4th, 2021 (Sunday) | JC Cube, Tai Kwun | 8:00 pm
April 8th, 2021 (Thursday) | Hong Kong Arts Centre | 9:30 pm

Center Stage by Stanley Kwan – Hong Kong | 1991 – 155 minutes
Section: Pan-Chinese Cinema | Restored Classic

Undeniably one of Stanley Kwan’s signature works, this kaleidoscopic biopic of Chinese silent film star Ruan Lingyu earned Maggie Cheung a Best Actress nod at Berlinale. Kwan challenges traditional film form by ambitiously mixing extracts from Ruan’s films with behind-the-scenes footage, stunning recreations, and interviews with both his cast and Ruan’s surviving contemporaries. What emerges is an incisive postmodern interrogation of filmmaking, and a powerful portrayal of the feminist struggle. (HKIFF 2021)

Screening Dates:
April 5th, 2021 (Monday) | Hong Kong Cultural Centre | 2:30 pm
April 9th, 2021 (Friday) | JC Cube, Tai Kwun | 3:15 pm

Drifting by Jun Li – Hong Kong | 2021 – 112 minutes
Section: Gala Premiere | Firebird Awards

Released from jail, Fai goes back to his old stomping ground in Sham Shui Po, but his return to normal life is cut short when the authorities raid his makeshift home and dispose of his belongings. Urged on by a social worker, Fai and his fellow homeless friends take their fight to court. Inspired by his experiences as a student journalist, Jun Li follows his debut Tracey(2018) with an empathetic chronicle of Hong Kong’s homeless population that details their plight without passing judgment. Big Screen Competition, Rotterdam. (HKIFF 2021)

Screening Dates:
April 4th, 2021 (Sunday) | Hong Kong Cultural Centre | 9:15 pm
April 7th, 2021 (Wednesday) | K11 Art House | 9:30 pm

Trailer:

Eternally Younger Than Those Idiots by Yoshino Ryohei – Japan | 2020 – 118 minutes
Section: Kaleidoscope | International Premiere

Horigai (Sakuma Yui) is 22 years old, about to graduate from university, and likes to play the fool. Her behaviour is just an act, however, to hide the fact that she’s still a virgin and terrified that she is about to become a social worker. When she meets the calm yet reserved Inogi (Nao) they form an unlikely bond, but their happiness is soon tested by dark revelations of abuse and suicide. Adapted from Tsumura Kikuko’s award-winning novel, Yoshino deftly counters his film’s dark themes with playful humour and a pair of charming female leads. (HKIFF 2021)

Screening Dates:
April 9th, 2021 (Friday) | Hong Kong Cultural Centre | 9:45 pm
April 11th, 2021 (Sunday) | K11 Art House | 6:15 pm

Trailer:

Harakiri by Kobayashi Masaki – Japan | 1962 – 134 minutes
Section: Focus

Slashing open the brutality and hypocrisy behind the samurai spirit, Kobayashi Masaki set a new standard for Japanese period drama with his mesmerising aesthetics. Tracing the fates of two ronin begging to commit ritual suicide in the noble clansmen’s garden, the story gradually unveils the determination of a desperate samurai to take his revenge and retain his honour. Through cold formalism of composition and movement, Kobayashi creates a fierce evocation of individual resolution against a corrupt system. (HKIFF 2021)

Screening Dates:
April 3rd, 2021 (Saturday) | Hong Kong Arts Centre | 9:30 pm
April 11th, 2021 (Sunday) | JC Cube, Tai Kwun | 2:30 pm

Trailer:

In the Mood for Love by Wong Kar Wai – Hong Kong, China | 2000 – 98 minutes
Section: Gala Presentation | Restored Classic

Gorgeously restored for its 20th anniversary last year, the new 4K version of Wong Kar Wai’s sublime masterpiece evokes an intoxicating nostalgia yet a fervour of romantic longing in the perfection of its aching musical soundtrack and ravishing cinematography. Amid the confined apartment and alleyways conjuring colonial noir in dreamlike textures and sumptuous colours, two neighbours who, upon discovering their spouses’ affair, develop a platonic romance which is destined to become a fleeting promise of redemption. (HKIFF 2021)

Screening Dates:
April 2nd, 2021 (Friday) | Hong Kong Cultural Centre | 7:35 pm

Trailer:

Me and the Cult Leader by Sakahara Atsushi – Japan | 2020 – 114 minutes
Section: Firebird Awards | Asian Premiere

More than two decades after the Tokyo subway sarin attack by the doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo, victim-turned-filmmaker Sakahara Atsushi embarks on an intimate and profound journey with Araki Hiroshi, the cult’s PR director, to unveil the truth behind the tragedy that left an everlasting wound on his life. Journeying from the current cult headquarters to their hometown, Sakahara brings out a man whose psyche is broken by a vain belief in redemption, and exposes how this cult manipulates its members through mind control. (HKIFF 2021)

Screening Dates:
April 8th, 2021 (Thursday) | K11 Art House | 6:45 pm (Q&A with Director via Live Streaming)
April 12th, 2021 (Monday) | Online | 12:00 am (Q&A with Director via Live Streaming)

Trailer:

Minari by Lee Isaac Chung – USA | 2020 – 115 minutes
Section: Gala Presentation

Continuing a wave of recent films exploring Asian immigrant experiences in the US, writer-director Lee Isaac Chung dramatises his own childhood growing up in 1980s rural Arkansas. Jacob moves his wife and two young children to a small country farm. Arriving from Seoul to take care of their sickly young son, Jacob’s mother-in-law initially exacerbates their stressful home-life, but her traditional worldview soon proves a welcome grounding influence. Best picture-Foreign Language, Golden Globes. (HKIFF 2021)

Screening Dates:
April 2nd, 2021 (Friday) | Hong Kong Cultural Centre | 4:35 pm (Q&A with Filmmaker via live streaming)
April 6th, 2021 (Tuesday) | K11 Art House | 2:00 pm (Q&A with Filmmaker via live streaming)

Trailer:

Reiwa Uprising by Hara Kazuo – Japan | 2019 – 249 minutes
Section: Masters & Auteurs

The streets taken by protesters in Sennan Asbestos Disaster (42nd) become the battleground for Reiwa Shinsengumi, a new political party competing for seats in Japan’s Upper House. Documentarian Hara Kazuo follows Yasutomi Ayumi, a cross-dressing candidate, who is also a Tokyo University professor, as s/he and nine marginalized contenders embark on a national campaign, with music, dancing and even horses, in an effort to change the exploitative system. Defying expectations, two disabled candidates won seats in Japan’s parliament for the first time. The rest is not only history, but the future. (HKIFF 2021)

Screening Dates:
April 4th, 2021 (Sunday) | Hong Kong City Hall | 2:30 pm (Break of 24 minutes)
April 12th, 2021 (Monday) | Online | 12:00 am (Break of 24 minutes)

Trailer:

Summer Blur by Han Shuai – Hong Kong | 2020 – 88 minutes
Section: Firebird Awards

Thirteen-year-old Guo longs to reunite with her newly remarried mother in Shanghai. Instead, she is forced to live in Wuhan with her unwelcoming aunt, her spoiled cousin and a classmate with a disturbing infatuation. When she indirectly causes the drowning of a friend, Guo’s desperation to escape leads to her psychological undoing. Filmed with the propulsive energy of a thriller, Han Shuai’s psychological coming-of-age drama depicts the terror of puberty through the eyes of a strong-willed protagonist. FIPRESCI Prize, Busan. Generation Kplus for Best Film, Berlinale. (HKIFF 2021)

Screening Dates:
April 7th, 2021 (Wednesday) | K11 Art House | 7:15 pm (Q&A with filmmaker via live streaming)
April 10th, 2021 (Saturday) | K11 Art House | 4:45 pm (Q&A with filmmaker via live streaming)

Trailer:

For more information, please visit the official HKIFF website: https://www.hkiff.org.hk

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