It’s been (nearly) 15 years since Hong Kong was returned to Chinese Sovereignty in July 1997, something that the Terracotta Festival and the Hong Kong Economic Trade Office in London have decided to mark with a film festival. The event was announced a while back already, but now the line-up of films is out too!

I’m not too familiar with Hong Kong cinema and recognised only two of the films selected – the award-winning 桃姐 (Táo Jiě/A Simple Life, 2011), which featured in one of the earliest Trailer Weeklies on Otherwhere, and 武俠 (Wǔ Xiá/Wu Xia aka Swordsmen, 2011). The rest of the programme consists of quite a mix of productions, with plenty of action films and crime thrillers (which seems to be what Hong Kong cinema is most famous for), plus some comedies, a couple more reflective dramas and a horror film for those that like it scary.

Some of the festival films:

  • 桃姐 (Táo Jiě/A Simple Life, 2011) – A Simple Life contains the simple story of the relationship between a boy and the family servant that raised him when years later it is the servant that needs care-taking. Although precise screening dates and times have not yet been announced, I am guessing Táo Jiě has a good chance of being either the opening (or closing) film of the festival. I’m also guessing it will sell out in no time, so I’m going to book the moment tickets are released.
  • 大藍湖 (Da lag hu/Big Blue Lake, 2011) – It’s a “[g]orgeous, understated and melancholy love letter to rural Hong Kong” and semi-autobiographical tale: Da lag hu relates the tale of a 30-year old woman’s return to her home village, where things – including her now Alzheimer-affected mother – have changed, placing her on a journey of self-rediscovery.
  • 當碧咸遇上奧雲 (Dong Pek Ham yu sheung O Wan/When Beckham Met Owen, 2004) – The title isn’t my cup of tea, the synopsis more so: “A funny and touching coming-of-age drama about two thirteen year old boys who are best friends, brought together by their mutual love of soccer. When they find themselves competing for the same girl cracks begin to show in their perfect friendship, and the emotions of puberty lead them to question themselves and each other.”
  • 獨臂刀 (Duk bei dou/One Armed Swordsman, 1967) – This one grabs my attention for being the oldest film on the programme, which is bound to mean its some sort major classic (as I said, I know very little about Hong Kong cinema).
  • 少林三十六房  (Shao Lin san shi liu fang/The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, 1978) – Another oldie-but-goldie, which the festival website describes as being “[w]idely regarded as the greatest kung-fu film of all time”.
  • 懸紅 (Yuen Hung/The Bounty, 2012) – one of the comedies on the programme. Apparently it’s “mad-cap”, as bounty hunter Cho “gets more than he bargained for” when a hunt for a notorious robber lands Cho an isolated island and gets a local hotel owner and his daughter involved. From the trailer it seems that comedy is not only very recent (production year 2012) but that it has yet to be released in China. It did however screen at the Udine Far East festival in April, where one reviewer remarked that it is “more than just a comic exercise in the bizarre” (source). I’m getting more interested by the minute!

I’m going to give a special shout-out to the festival organisers for including the original title in Han characters and romanised, plus the English title. Yay for source language visibility!

Festival dates: July 2-14, 2012
Official festival website: HK15 Film Festival – you can find synopses + trailers and further details about the festival there.

As mentioned, tickets cannot yet be booked, but I’ll post an update once they are released.

Award winning: Ann Hui’s 桃姐 (Táo Jiě/A Simple Life)