Hong Kong Filmart: 5 Events Not to Miss

"Beautiful 2013"

From Danny Boyle's latest to a glimpse inside the method of the enigmatic Wong Kar-Wai, the festival is as eclectic as the city it calls home.

This story first appeared in the March 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

1. Beautiful 2013

After the success of last year’s Beautiful 2012, which brought together four Asian directors to make short films about beauty (one of which, Ann Hui’s My Way, was watched 12 million times on China’s Youku, which hosted the films on its online portal), the Beautiful omni-bus returns with entries from Japan’s Kiyoshi Kurosawa, China’s Lu Yue, Taiwan’s Wu Nien-jen and Hong Kong’s own Mabel Cheung Yuen-ting. Produced by the HKIFF, the project has become one of the event’s signatures: Apart from its online presence, Beautiful 2012 was screened during the Critics’ Week sidebar at Cannes, followed by a North American premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.

2. A Complicated Story

This examination of the increasing divide between mainland China and Hong Kong will give festivalgoers a glimpse of the future of Hong Kong cinema. Backed by two local industry heavyweights — superproducer Bill Kong (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and auteur Johnnie To (Election) — first-time director Kiwi Chow teamed up with nine recent graduates from the film and TV school of the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts to tell the story of a strug- gling mainland student hired as a surrogate mother by an affluent Hong Kong couple.

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3. Nobody’s Child

The 1960 drama by Bu Wancang about a young girl braving severe climates — the film was shot on the Japanese island Hokkaido during the frigid winter months — to search for her mother will be unveiled with a fresh print after a copy was discovered by Hong Kong archivists in Taiwan and sent to France’s L’Immagine Ritrovata for restoration last year. The clarity of the new print only can enhance the sterling performance by Josephine Siao Fong-fong, then just 11. The actress eventually would become one of the most acclaimed Chinese performers of her generation, winning a best actress award at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1995 for Summer Snow. She now is a psychologist and a dedicated campaigner against child abuse.

4. Trance

Fresh from his duties as artistic director of the London Olympics opening ceremony, Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle returns to the big screen with this thriller that will play in the HKIFF’s genre-focused Midnight Heat section. The film stars James McAvoy as an art auctioneer who links up with a mobster (Vincent Cassel) to steal a Goya but is forced to see a hypnotist (Rosario Dawson) when he forgets where he hid the painting. Given the tendency these days for English-language titles from A-list directors to make their debuts at high-profile European and North American festivals, the HKIFF has scored a coup of sorts by landing this film’s international premiere on March 29 — just days after it opens in Boyle’s home market in the U.K.

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5. Master Classes With Andy Lau and Wong Kar-Wai

As part of the festival’s Jockey Club Cine Academy, two of Hong Kong’s most iconoclastic filmmakers will be discussing their work in free-admission master classes. Lau will reflect on his career as the festival hosts a retrospective of his work as a cinematographer, director and producer on March 28; Wong, whose first film (As Tears Go By, lensed by Lau) and latest (The Grandmaster) are both screening during the festival, also will meet his fans and followers March 21.