Hong Kong Film Festival Unveils Lineup

Eisenstein in Guanajuato
Courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival

Sylvia Chang's 'Murmur of the Hearts' will open, Philip Yung's 'Port of Call' will close the festival's 39th edition, which will also put a spotlight on German and Israeli cinema.

Director Sylvia Chang's Murmur of the Hearts will open the 39th Hong Kong International Film Festival, while director Philip Yung's Port of Call will close the event, organizers said Thursday. Both films will have their world premieres at the festival, which runs March 23 to April 6.

Chang is also the Filmmaker in Focus at this year's Hong Kong festival, with a previously announced 14-film retrospective set for the director-producer-screenwriter-actress. Chang served as vice chair of the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society from 2010 to 2013.

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"I think it's very good to open with a world premiere of a film by a filmmaker and then follow it with a tribute to her," Hong Kong International Film Festival Society executive director Roger Garcia told The Hollywood Reporter. "We've wanted to do a tribute to Sylvia for some time. ... Now with a new film coming out, it seems an opportune time."

Murmur of the Hearts marks a return to her native Taiwan for Chang and stars Isabella Leong (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor), Joseph Chang (Prince of Tears) and Lawrence Ko (Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?).

Port of Call is a true crime story starring Aaron Kwok (After This Our Exile) that explores the effects of a crime on both the victims and the perpetrator.

This year, the Hong Kong festival will screen 260 titles from 56 countries and regions, with 78 world, international and Asian premieres.

The festival is once again collaborating with Chinese online video site Youku.com to produce the omnibus film Beautiful 2015, made up of four shorts directed by Iran's Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Taiwan's Tsai Ming-Liang, China's Huang Jian-xin and Hong Kong's Yim Ho.

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Gala presentations will include director Tsui Hark's The Taking of Tiger Mountain 3D, which has grossed more than $140 million in China; Two Thumbs Up by director Lau Ho-leung, starring Francis Ng, Simon Yam and Leo Ku; and Eisenstein in Guanajuato by director Peter Greenaway.

The festival will also shine a light on German cinema today and the young filmmakers of Israel. A sidebar on German films will feature the international premieres of Berlinale Silver Bear winner Victoria by Sebastian Schipper, As We Were Dreaming by Andreas Dresen, and the Asian premiere of Tough Love by Rosa von Praunheim. The young Israel cinema sidebar will showcase the Asian premiere of Princess by Tali Shalom-Ezer and The Farewell Party by Sharon Maymon and Tal Granit.

"It seems that in this year's Berlin International Film Festival, there were a number of good films by young directors, and a couple of those films were recognized in the prizes of the Berlinale as well," said Garcia. "We often deal with developing and third-world countries, so it's good occasionally to look at some of the interesting countries in Europe. Germany is a powerful economy; there are some great filmmakers."

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Directors Makhmalbaf (The President), Greenaway and Pedro Costa (Horse Money) will visit Hong Kong to attend the screenings of their films and hold master classes. Makhmalbaf will also lead a panel of judges for the annual Young Cinema Competition, established to encourage young filmmakers to show their films internationally.

To mark the 110th anniversary of the birth of late Japanese filmmaker Mikio Naruse, the festival will showcase four of his masterpieces: Repast (1951), Floating Clouds (1955), Daughters, Wives and a Mother (1960) and Scattered Clouds (1967).