天水围的夜与雾 | Night and Fog

Night and Fog

Ann Hui’s darkly realistic Night and Fog starts at the end of the story: a man murders his wife and, based on statements by unreliable witnesses, the film goes on to investigate how things could have got this far and what kind of man was able to kill his family; questions that almost inevitably remain unanswered. Night and Fog, named after Nuit et brouillard (1955), Alain Resnais’ documentary about concentration camps, looks at the difficult problem of domestic violence. An elderly man from Hong Kong takes a wife from outside the city and goes on to neglect and abuse the woman. Ann Hui’s cool registering camera is juxtaposed with flashbacks within flashbacks and dream sequences, just as in her earlier film, Song of the Exile.

Directed by Ann Hui | Starring : Jingchu Zhang, Simon Yam, Wai Keung Law, Amy Chum, Kenneth Cheung | Presented at Hong Kong Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Göteborg Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Transilvania Film Festival

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白银帝国 | Empire of Silver

Empire of Silver

With this lush epic Palo Alto–based filmmaker Christina Yao tells a story both timely and timeless: a tale of love, succession and compromised ideals that chronicles the lives of a powerful family of Shanxi bankers during the waning years of the Qing Dynasty. Downright Shakespearean in theme, the film details a little-known piece of Chinese history while offering parallels to the current financial crisis with its shadowy world of unscrupulous market fixing and backroom deals. In the northeastern Chinese province of 19th-century Shanxi, a group of bankers amassed extensive wealth and power that allowed them considerable independence from the state. The fictional Kang family is one such clan, whose fortunes take a sudden turn for the worse when several of the family’s heirs meet tragic fates and civil unrest threatens the nation’s stability. Third Master, a hedonist and the Kang patriarch’s least favorite son, is now called upon to carry on their lineage. Torn between familial obligation and his own desire for love and happiness, he sets out to reform his father’s unethical business practices while shepherding the family through the country’s growing unrest. Full of swooping crane shots, monumental sets and massive landscapes, Yao’s debut recalls the opulent historical sagas of Chinese Fifth Generation filmmakers like Zhang Yimou as it combines a passionate tale of unrequited love and a fascinating glimpse of a rarely related episode in Chinese history.

Directed by Christina Yao | Starring : Aaron Kwok, Tielin Zhang, Lei Hao, Zhicheng Ding, Jennifer Tilly | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Shanghai Film Festival, Hawaii Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, Mexico Film Festival

荡寇 | Plastic City

Plastic City

Liberdade, São Paulo– a multi-ethnic neighborhood with the largest Japanese immigrant community in the world. Here, traditional Japanese achitecture clashes with the gritty urban landscapes, while people of all races come here to do business – legal or illegal. This is where the story of Plastic City begins… Yuda, a feared Chinese outlaw, and his adopted son Kirin, an impulsive young dreamer, together rule the pirated goods racket in the ultra-liberal Brazilian metropolis. The magnate and his heir control all of from rival gangs to street hawkers, corrupt politicians to erotic dancers. But an empire that takes years to build can also crumble to the ground with one fatal mistake… A conspiracy between politicians and the mafia begins to threaten Yuda’s power. Little by little, he loses control of his business and is ultimately arrested. Kirin struggles to re-conquer his father’s honor, fighting this city’s wars singlehandedly. But Yuda, tired of the bloodshed and feeling the weight of his years, abandons his son, falsifies his own death and returns to the jungle in a last attempt to put an end to his criminal life. Escaping from a complex maze of violence, Kirin sets out to find his father. In the mysterious jungle, father and son both have to wipe the slate of their past clean. Only in the end will Kirin discover the ultimate answer to the search for his own destiny.

Directed by Nelson Yu Lik-wai | Starring : Jô Odagiri, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Yi Huang, Chao-jung Chen, Tainá Müller | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, AFI Film Festival, Stockholm Film Festival, Febio Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Sao Paulo Film Festival

一半海水一半火焰 | Ocean Flame

Ocean Flame

Wong Yiu was a very shameless person and a blackmailer until one day he met a waitress named Ni Chen. He thought Ni Chen was like any other girls that could be controlled by him, but her stubbornness was way beyond his imagination. As time goes by, they both lost their ways and losing themselves in the process. He was not as free as he once was. Insanity causes him to end her life. Eight years later, Wong Yiu stepped out from the jail. He carried a gun and went to look for Ni Chen’s mother at her home wishing to fulfill his own will.

Directed by Fendou Liu | Starring : Fan Liao, Monica Mok, Simon Yam, Suet Lam, Shiu Hung Hui | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Stockholm Film Festival, Oslo Film Festival, Bratislava Film Festival

一个好爸爸 | Run Papa Run

Run Papa Run1

Run Papa Run is a bit of a different take on the usual Hong Kong gangster movie shenanigans. In the film, Louis Koo plays Lee, a young man who finds father figures in the Triads his mother takes care of in her underground clinic. Despite his mother’s objections, Lee joins the local gang, and soon becomes one of the most powerful gangsters in Hong Kong. However, things are turned upside down for Lee soon after her meets a pretty lawyer named Mabel. After getting Mabel pregnant and marrying her in a shotgun wedding, Lee finds himself wanting to be a “good” Triad for the sake of his daughter, Heiyi. Of course, it isn’t so easy for a hardened gangster to be a nice guy, and Lee must try to balance the needs of both of his “families”.

Directed by Sylvia Chang | Starring : Louis Koo, Rene Liu, Nora Miao, Siu Chung Mok, Suet Lam | Presented at Hong Kong Film Festival

文雀 | Sparrow

Sparrow

From the acclaimed director of The Mission, Election, and Exiled, Johnnie To. “Sparrow’ is a common word used in Hong Kong street slang for pickpocket. The term refers to the special dexterity needed to pluck people’s wallets from their pockets… and possibly also to the necessity of having to flutter away quickly should one be discovered. Kei is one such ‘sparrow’ – and a very professional one at that. He and his three partners earn a good living from digging deep into the pockets of oblivious passers-by moving along the crowded urban canyons of Hong Kong. As far as Kei’s concerned, it’s all he needs to live a carefree life. Whenever he is not going about his business he loves to ride about the city on his bicycle photographing street scenes with his Rolleiflex camera. One day the gorgeous Chun Lei comes into his sights. Kei is fascinated. But behind Chun Lei’s good looks lurks a mysterious past. Kei falls in love with her – and he is not the only one. After having managed to turn the heads of his three colleagues, she reveals her true intentions: the sparrows must steal something of great importance to her.

Directed by Johnnie To | Starring : Simon Yam, Kelly Lin, Ka Tung Lam, Hoi-Pang Lo, Suet Lam | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Fantasia Film Festival, Cinemanila Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Cleveland Film Festival, Wisconsin Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival

神探 | Mad Detective

Mad Detective

2007’s largest grossing film at the Hong Kong box office – Mad Detective – is one of the freshest and most satisfying films from that country in a decade. The traditional Hong Kong police film is turned on its head: the imaginative twist being our hero – Detective Bun – who has the ability to ‘see’ people’s inner personalities or “hidden ghosts”. Breaking new ground and establishing new cinematic rules, Johnnie To’s latest giddily entertaining collaboration with Wai Ka Fai radically raises the level of storytelling in modern film. Detective Bun was recognised as a talented criminal profiler until he sliced off his right ear to offer as a gift at his chief’s farewell party. Branded as ‘mad’ and discharged from the force, he has lived in seclusion with his beloved wife May ever since. Strangely, Bun has the ability to ‘see’ a person’s inner personality, their subconscious desires, emotions, and mental state. When a missing police gun is linked to several heists and murders, hotshot Inspector Ho calls on the valuable skills of his former mentor Bun to help unlock the killer’s identity. However, Bun’s unorthodox methods point to a fellow detective and take a schizophrenic turn for the worse…

Directed by Johnnie To | Starring : Ching Wan Lau, Andy On, Ka Tung Lam, Kelly Lin, Kwok-Lun Lee | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Sitges Film Festival, Maine Film Festival