Hong Kong Film Festival: Renny Harlin’s ‘Bodies at Rest’ Selected as Opening Film

Courtesy of HKIFF
'Bodies at Rest'

The fest, which is set to run March 18-April 1, will close with French auteur François Ozon’s ‘By the Grace of God.’

Bodies at Rest, the Chinese-language crime thriller by transplanted Hollywood director Renny Harlin, will open the 43rd Hong Kong International Film Festival on March 18. The fest will close with French auteur François Ozon’s real-life drama By the Grace of God.

Bodies at Rest, from Hong Kong’s Media Asia, is Harlin’s second feature film fully in Mandarin, following Alibaba’s Legend of the Ancient Sword in 2018. The thriller stars award-winning Hong Kong actor Nick Cheung and Taiwanese actor Richie Jen. Harlin relocated to China in the mid-2010s.

Ozon’s By the Grace of God, a film about a Catholic Church sexual abuse case in France, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival. The screening in Hong Kong will be the film’s Asia premiere.

The festival will also showcase in its gala presentations The Shadow Play, by Chinese director Lou Ye; First Night Nerves, Hong Kong master of femininity Stanley Kwan’s return to feature film after nearly a decade with a powerhouse female cast; World War I documentary They Shall Not Grow Old, by Peter Jackson; Berlinale Golden Bear winner Synonyms, by Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid; and a special concert jointly presented with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra to celebrate the film scores of British composer Michael Nyman.

Featuring over 230 films from 63 countries and regions, the HKIFF will honor the legend of Hong Kong action cinema Sammo Hung as its Filmmaker in Focus with a 10-title retrospective of the screen icon and a seminar open to the public.

Master classes headlined by two-time Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, South Korean auteur Lee Chang-dong and Chinese actor-director Jiang Wen will also provide opportunities for the filmmakers to share their creative insights with the public.

To commemorate the centenary of Korean cinema, the festival has dedicated a sidebar to 10 South Korea classics and new films, including My Mother and Her Guest (1961) by Shin Sang-ok and Ieodo (1977) by Kim Ki-young.

A new section for Chinese-language films has been added to the Firebird Award – Young Cinema Competition, to be judged by a panel headed by Jiang, alongside Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Ka-fai, Chinese actress Yu Nan and film scholar David Bordwell.

Under the new executive directorship of former film executive and producer Albert Lee, the HKIFF is set to run March 18-April 1.