桃姐 | A Simple Life

A Simple Life

Based on a true story, the film centres on Ah Tao, an amah who has worked for the Leung family for four generations. She lives with and takes care of Roger, a film producer who is the only member of the Leung household still living in Hong Kong. Roger returns home one day and finds Ah Tao unconscious after a stroke. Convinced she has becoming a burden, Tao resigns and moves into a retirement home. But upon her arrival, she continues to be taken care of by Roger, who realizes just how important she is to him. He decides to do his best to watch after the person who has nurtured him all his life. But Ah Tao’s health is fast deteriorating. Hui has always excelled when telling stories of everyday life. In A Simple Life, she delivers a rich and heartwarming drama that not only deals with the many abandoned old people in Hong Kong, but also exquisitely captures the unique relationship between the amah and the family for which she cares. In an age when loyalty between employers and employees is fast disappearing, A Simple Life highlights a culture that has almost ceased to exist in Hong Kong: one in which a person devotes their life to serving a family, and in return is cherished as much as any other relative.

Directed by Ann Hui | Starring : Andy Lau, Deannie Yip, Hailu Qin, Fuli Wang, Paul Chun | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, London Film Festival, Stockholm Film Festival, Dubai Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Okinawa Film Festival, Durban Film Festival, Istanbul Film Festival, Sydney Film Festival, Munich Film Festival, Portland Film Festival

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团圆 | Apart Together

Apart Together

Over fifty years after the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China on the Chinese mainland and the founding of the island republic of Taiwan, permission is given for the first time for a group of ex-soldiers of the National People’s Party or Kuomintang to travel from Taiwan to China and be reunited with family members in Shanghai. These soldiers fought bitterly against Communist troops during China’s civil war from 1927 onwards, until they were forced to retreat to Taiwan in 1949. One of the comrades-in-arms travelling with the group to his former home in Shanghai is an ageing soldier named Lui Yansheng. His reason for embarking on this journey is not to see the family members he left behind on the mainland but to find the one and only love of his life, Qiao Yu’e, whom he was obliged to leave behind in Shanghai without a word of farewell, and their son, who was born after he took flight. After having made contact via letter, he manages to arrange a meeting during which he quickly realises that Qiao Yu’e, who has founded a family with an officer in the People’s Liberation Army, still feels the same way about him as before. It’s not hard for Liu Yangsheng to persuade his former partner to go back with him to Taiwan. He hopes that, by promising to leave his entire savings to her husband and their children, he will be able to secure the family’s agreement. But his proposal gives rise to a huge outcry in the family. Qiao Yu’e situation would seem to be quite hopeless – until her husband suffers a brain haemorrhage and almost dies…

Directed by Quan’an Wang | Starring : Lisa Lu, Feng Ling, Cai-gen Xu, Monica Mok, Xiaotian Mo | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, San Sebastian Film Festival, Sao Paulo Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival

泪王子 | Prince of Tears

Prince of Tears

Largely based on Yonfan’s childhood memories, Prince of Tears is akin to a sumptuous fairy tale. Alternately magnified through the eyes of innocent children and darkened by the disturbed dreams of frightened, guilty adults, the realities of a little-known era are explored through Yonfan’s powerful vision. As in the best of fables, here too we have a handsome prince and a beautiful princess, a charming fairy and a mean ogre. Elegantly shot, the film weaves the characters and their stories together in a mysterious and lyrical fashion. Yonfan’s pristine touch as production designer seamlessly matches the vibrant light and colour of Chin Ting-chang’s cinematography. As a result, the film’s stunning look provides a stark contrast to the terror within the environment. As both an exquisite rhapsody of emotions and an intriguing historical account, Yonfan’s work is utterly unique. It charms, evokes and informs, perfectly capturing the confusion of adolescence, when the world is full of beauty one moment and immersed in darkness the next.

Directed by Yonfan | Starring : Hsiao-chuan Chang, Terri Kwan, Wing Fan, Kenneth Tsang, Jack Kao | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Dubai Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Moscow Film Festival

南京!南京! | City of Life and Death

City of Life and Death1

Nanjing, 1937. The third film from award-winning Sixth Generation director Lu Chuan, City of Life and Death is a devastating account of the massacre that occurred during the Sino-Japanese War when Japanese troops took the city of Nanjing in December 1937, a tragedy remembered as the Rape of Nanking. Shot completely in black and white, this powerful war drama unflinchingly captures the shocking violence and brutality of the Nanjing massacre, from the mass executions of POWs to the raping and slaughtering of civilians, while providing a deeply human portrait of both the victims and the perpetrators. Rendered in many shades of gray, City of Life and Death touches on the different people whose lives are destroyed by the war: the Chinese soldiers who gave their lives, the foreign missionaries who sheltered refugees, the comfort women, the Chinese civilians, and the Japanese soldiers. In a surprising move for a Mainland Chinese film about the Rape of Nanking, City of Life and Death is told primarily from the perspective of a Japanese soldier, who witnesses, commits, and abhors the atrocities of his army. By choosing to humanize rather than demonize, Lu Chuan offers an all the more devastating memory of the Nanjing massacre, and the people who lived and died in the City of Life and Death.

Directed by Chuan Lu | Starring : Ye Liu, Yuanyuan Gao, Hideo Nakaizumi, Wei Fan, Lan Qin | Presented at Edinburgh Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, San Sebastian Film Festival, Athens Film Festival, Oslo Film Festival, Hamptons Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Warsaw Film Festival, London Film Festival, AFI Film Festival, Mar del Plata Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, Helsinki Film Festival

地下的天空 | The Shaft

The Shaft

In a mining town in western China, separately, we follow three members of a family. Each individual family members’ story flows from one to another chronologically, although they do not simply trace the continual development of a single family. There is the daughter who has to choose between her dreams and a suitable husband, the son who is about to start work down the mine, and the father who has just retired. Their lives are inextricably bound together as they symbolically represent the men and women from all mining towns who must accept their thwarted dreams and aspirations, and learn to accept their lot in life.

Directed by Chi Zhang | Starring : Deyuan Luo, Xuan Huang, Luoqian Zheng, Chen Li, Qiya Gong | Presented at Edinburgh Film Festival, Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Hamburg Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival, Marrakech Film Festival, Sao Paulo Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival

夜宴 | The Banquet

The Banquet

In 907 AD, the Tang Dynasty is in tatters; infighting snarls the imperial family. Crown Prince Wu Luan loves Little Wan, but his father takes her as his Empress. Wu Luan goes into exile, studying dance and music. His uncle murders his father, taking throne and Empress; uncle sends assassins to kill Wu Luan. The Crown Prince eludes death and comes to court. The Emperor arranges for Little Wan’s coronation and dispatches Wu Luan to a distant land; he then calls for a midnight banquet on the 100th day of his rule. Poison, treachery, Wu Luan’s return, and the love of the innocent Qing for Wu Luan set up the final entanglements. No Fortinbras or Horatio lay the dead to rest.

Directed by Xiaogang Feng | Starring : Ziyi Zhang, You Ge, Daniel Wu, Xun Zhou, Xiaoming Huang | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Bangkok Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Portland Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Dubai Film Festival

英雄 | Hero

Hero

Director Zhang Yimou brings the sumptuous visual style of his previous films (Raise the Red Lantern, Shanghai Triad) to the high-kicking kung fu genre. A nameless warrior arrives at an emperor’s palace with three weapons, each belonging to a famous assassin who had sworn to kill the emperor. As the nameless man spins out his story—and the emperor presents his own interpretation of what might really have happened—each episode is drenched in red, blue, white or another dominant color. Hero combines sweeping cinematography and superb performances from the cream of the Hong Kong cinema (Maggie Cheung, Irma Vep; Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, In the Mood for Love). The result is stunning, a dazzling action movie with an emotional richness that deepens with every step.

Directed by Yimou Zhang | Starring : Jet Li, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Maggie Cheung, Ziyi Zhang, Donnie Yen | Presented at Palm Springs Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Jerusalem Film Festival, Edda Film Festival, Marrakech Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival, Brothers Manaki Film Festival, Sao Paulo Film Festival, Istanbul Film Festival