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5 Films Not to Miss at the Hong Kong International Film Festival

Best of the Fest: “Hi, Fidelity”
"Hi, Fidelity"

The 17-day event kicks off March 20, and runs concurrently with Hong Kong Filmart and the Asian Film Awards.

Celebrating its 35th birthday this year, the Hong Kong International Film Festival kicks off under the stewardship of new executive director Roger Garcia on March 20 and runs through April 5. The 17-day event, which runs concurrently with the Hong Kong Filmart and the Asian Film Awards, features more than 300 films from around the globe, including 59 world, international and Asia premieres. Here’s a look at five titles you won’t want to miss:

Hi, Fidelity
Making its world premiere at HKIFF is Hong Kong filmmaker Poon Yuen-leung’s Hi, Fidelity, which follows the sexual exploits of three spurned Hong Kong housewives who cross the border to China, only to discover they’ve all fallen for the same gigolo. The film will likely be a big draw because it marks the comeback of iconic Hong Kong actress Patricia Ha (An Amorous Woman of Tang Dynasty), who makes her first appearance onscreen in eight years.

Quattro Hong Kong 2
Produced by the government marketing initiative Brand Hong Kong, this Paris, Je T’Aime-like ode to the glories of Hong Kong makes its world premiere as one of two opening films of the festival (the other being Don’t Go Breaking My Heart). The omnibus feature is comprised of four shorts by renowned Southeast Asian filmmakers: the Philippines’ Brillante Mendoza, Malaysia’s Ho Yu-hang, Thailand’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul (who won the Palme d’Or last year at Cannes) and Hong Kong’s own Stanley Kwan.

Vampire
Japanese helmer Iwai Shunji’s first English-language film sees the fearless helmer taking on the script, cinematography, editing and score all by himself. Shunji’s morbid and melancholic tale — Twilight this is not — tells the twisted story of a reserved high school biology teacher who preys on suicidal women. Starring Kevin Zegers, Rachael Leigh Cook and New Zealand’s Keisha Castle-Hughes, who received an Oscar nomination for 2002’s Whale Rider, the film receives its Asian premiere as a gala presentation at HKIFF. 

Punished
With legendary Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To on board as producer, director Law Wing-cheong’s crime thriller is certain to draw plenty of interest before its world-premiere gala presentation April 4. Displaying the noir sensibility To fans have come to expect, the film stars HK screen veteran Anthony Wong as a ruthless tycoon who gets more than he bargains for when he swears revenge on his daughter’s kidnapper.

Madame X
To lighten the mood, catch a screening of what can only be described as a transvestite superhero action comedy with a message. Directed by Indonesia’s Lucky Kuswandi, the film, which landed two Asian Film Award nominations (best supporting actress for Shanty and best production design), follows the high-camp adventures of a hairstylist who invents a crime-fighting — and fabulous — alter ego in an effort to combat homophobia.