Supported by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Brussels (HKETO, Brussels), Hong Kong films had a strong presence at this year's Far East Film Festival (FEFF) in Udine, Italy On 20-28 April 2018.
The FEFF, which was celebrating its 20th anniversary, screened over 80 films including 14 Hong Kong productions and co-productions. These included four new feature films, namely Chapman To's The Empty Hands (2017) (European premiere); Dante Lam's Operation Red Sea (2018) (International Festival Premiere); Ann Hui's Our Time Will Come (2017) (Italian Premiere); and Derek Chiu Sung-kee's No.1 Chung Ying Street (2018) (European Premiere). Martial arts drama The Empty Hands and historical drama No.1 Chung Ying Street were screened as part of a competition.
One of the highlights of the FEFF was a tribute to Hong Kong film icon Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia, who opened this year's FEFF and received the Golden Mulberry Lifetime Achievement Award. Previous recipients include Jackie Chan, Johnnie To, Michael Werner, Nansun Shi and Eric Tsang.
Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia featured in five Hong Kong films in the programme, namely Ronny Yu's action-fantasy-wuxia film The Bride with White Hair (1993); Chen Hung-lieh's romantic melodrama Cloud of Romance (1997) (European Premiere of copy restored in 2018); Wong Kar-wai's drama Chungking Express (1994); Raymond Lee's wuxia action film Dragon Inn (1992); and Yim Ho's historical drama Red Dust (1990) (European Premiere of copy restored in 2012).
Other highlights were the world premiere of Johnnie To's restored classic, Thrown Down (2004/2018) and another classic restored by the FEFF in 2007, Patrick Tam's 1989 film, My Heart is that Eternal Rose.
The FEFF also screened Fresh Wave short films from Hong Kong made in 2017, namely Ho Chung-ken's Fires, Yeh Ka-lun's Bright Spring Days, and Lam Hei-chun's Goodbye.
Speaking at a Hong Kong dinner held at Casa Cavazzini, the site of Udine's new Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art located in the heart of the historic city centre, Deputy Representative of HKETO, Brussels, Miss Fiona Chau, noted that Hong Kong would soon have its own museum for visual culture, focusing on 20th and 21th century art, design, architecture and the moving image - thus including cinema.
'M+, as the museum will be known, is scheduled for completion next year. It will be located in the West Kowloon Cultural District, a vibrant, 40-hectare cultural quarter located on a dramatic harbour-front site in the heart of Hong Kong. This is one of the largest cultural projects in the world,'; Miss Chau said.
Miss Chau said that the FEFF had presented a wonderful programme, rich in Hong Kong productions, for the celebration of its 20th anniversary.
'Over the last 20 years, the FEFF has become the foremost of its kind in Europe. The importance of its contribution in bringing Hong Kong cinema to European audiences and in increasing the appreciation of our films cannot be overstated. It has also been active in the restoration of Hong Kong films,'; she said.
She added that while Hong Kong is making its name as an art hub in Asia, cinema remains the art that is closest to the hearts of Hong Kong people.
'Our filmmakers, actors and producers have been the best ambassadors for our city and have made Hong Kong familiar to film goers all around the world. Hong Kong's films have also gained many accolades and recognition from international film festivals over the years, with young talents on the rise,'; she said.