Tian's 'Warrior' to open HKAFF

Two-week event highlights Asian directors for HK audience

HONG KONG -- Chinese director Tian Zhuangzhuang’s fantasy epic “The Warrior and the Wolf” and Korean director Park Chan-wook’s vampire thriller “Thirst” will open the 2009 Hong Kong Asian Film Festival, to be held October 15-30.

Malaysian Ho Yu-hang’s drama about the consequences of teen sex, “At the End of Daybreak," and the solo effort of Danny Pang of the Hong Kong directing twins the Pang Brothers, mystery thriller “Seven 2 One” were selected as the closing films, while the Japanese animated sci-fi thriller by Mamoru Hosoda, “Summer Wars” will receive a special presentation.

Directors of the opening and closing films, the star of Tian’s literary adaptation Joe Odagiri and the filmmakers in the running for the New Talent Awards will attend the premieres, along with meet and greet sessions with the audience.

Organized by Edko Films subsidiary Broadway Cinematheque, the festival showcases noteworthy films from the Asian region, including China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Korea and Singapore. The focus of the 6th edition of HKAFF is to highlight new talent and the offerings from Asian and local independent cinema for the Hong Kong audience, festival organizer and Broadway Cinematheque director Gary Mak told the Hollywood Reporter.

“The Hong Kong audience rarely has the chance to see Asian films, even though there’s such a big pool of talent out there,” said Mak. “Likewise, we have lots of unsung heroes in Hong Kong who would never be credited proportionally or highlighted in the media. But the future of our industry relies much on these talents, their vision and energies.”

To this end, the latest work from upcoming directors, including Singaporean Ho Tzu-nyen’s “Here," Indian Laxmikant Shetgaonkar’s “The Man Beyond the Bridge," Hong Kong director Risky Liu’s “Pastry" and Hong Kong film critic turned indie filmmaker Bono Lee’s “Beijing is Coming," which is making its world premiere at the festival, will compete for this year’s New Talent Awards, which commend newcomers making their debut or sophomore efforts.

The festival will also feature a number of films from the participating Film/TV school alumni of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. “Many of the HKAPA graduates have become filmmaking professionals in Hong Kong, working behind the scenes as cinematographers, editors, sound technicians and so on. This sidebar created this year shows the contributions of the HKAPA alumni to the local film industry,” Mak said. The directorial debut of 1998 graduate Mak Yan-yan, “Ge Ge,” headlines the sidebar titled “Education: HKAPA 25th Anniversary." HKAPA alumni input in cinematography, sound or editing also shows in the section’s selection such as Johnnie To’s “Election," Pang Ho-cheung’s “Exodus” and Heiward Mak’s “High Moon."

The enfant terrible of modern Japanese cinema Sion Sono was chosen as the director in focus, which marks the first time Hong Kong audience can see on the big screen the works of the provocative filmmaker, including his 2008 four-hour epic “Love Exposure," the controversial “Suicide Club," and his latest, “Be Sure to Share."