Hong Kong Film Festival: 3 Reasons Not to Miss the 2014 Event

AP Photo/Zacharie Scheurer
Isabelle Huppert

The festival, set for March 23-April 4, offers a typically eclectic mix of local fare, world cinema and even the queen of the French art house.

This story first appeared in the March 21-28 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

From the food and shopping to the ubiquitous rooftop bars, there are plenty of reasons to visit Hong Kong. From March 23 to April 4, there will be another: The Hong Kong International Film Festival, which this year offers a typically eclectic mix of local fare, world cinema and even the queen of the French art house.

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1. It will have a certain je ne sais quoi

This year marks 50 years of diplomatic relations between France and China, and to mark the occasion, legendary French actress Isabelle Huppert will attend a screening of her new film, Abuse of Weakness. Not enough Gaul? HKIFF will also screen My Name Is Hmmm ... by French fashion icon Agnes B., who will attend the movie’s premiere and conduct a master class.

2. Impress your friends by name-checking Jiang Wen

Jiang is establishing himself as one of the hottest filmmakers working in China. In addition to his raucous 2010 “Western” Let the Bullets Fly, the film festival will offer a great opportunity to see his earlier masterpieces, including his stylish 1994 debut, In the Heat of the Sun, which is being shown in its full 140-minute glory, as well as his 2000 prisoner-of-war drama, Devils on the Doorstep. “I would recommend people go and see the Jiang Wen films,” says Albert Lee, chief executive of Hong Kong’s Emperor Films. “They are very, very good films, and it will be very interesting for people interested in his work.”

3. You’ll help fight corruption (sort of)

Has a film festival ever hooked up with an anti-corruption body before? A big percentage of Hong Kong movies in the past 40 years or so have been about fighting various kinds of graft in the territory, so it was only a matter of time before the HKIFF announced its first collaboration with the Independent Commission Against Corruption, which this year is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The HKIFF will showcase a selection of 16 shows from the ICAC’s TV drama series during the past 40 years. “ICAC is in a way a studio, or a film company,” says HKIFF executive director Roger Garcia. “It’s unprecedented in world cinema for a law-enforcement agency to be producing narrative fiction films.”