Hong Kong International Film Festival 2016

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Mar 21-Apr 4

Olivia Lai breaks down this year’s Hong Kong International Film Festival and selects four must-see movies

It’s that time of year to check out the art house movies that don’t make it into local cinemas in Hong Kong – yes, the Hong Kong International Film Festival is back. Ditch predictable Hollywood blockbusters (sorry Supes and Bats) and expand your cinematic palate instead. Immerse yourself in top-notch storytelling and arresting cinematography in movies from all around the world at this year’s event, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

From Wong Kar-wai retrospectives to training seminars hosted by directors Park Ki-yong and Roger Garcia, there’s something for everything. From the indie corner of Hollywood down to the rainforests of Brazil, here’s a few movies from a long list that’re worth checking out...

The Lobster

Imagine a world where singletons must check into a hotel and are given 45 days to make a permanent romantic match or else they’ll turn into an animal of their choice. In this macabre comedy, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos takes a satirical look at dating cultures, and the pressures of marriage and monogamy. Colin Farrell plays a man whose wife recently left him, and begins a forbidden romance with a woman outside of the parameters of the hotel played by Rachel Weisz. It’s a quirky romance wrapped up in the enigma of both subtle and explicit power structures, with characters faking personality traits to be more likeable and attractive – not unlike the real world. It’s an unsettling film but there are dark laughs hidden throughout and spot on satirical moments.

Sun Mar 27, 4.15pm. $75, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, 10 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui.


A bloody and gritty retelling of one of the most iconic Shakespearean plays, Michael Fassbender sheds his X-Men costume and portrays the power hungry Scottish lord with gravitas and dark introspection, constantly torn between rational thoughts and a dementing lust for power. Playing opposite Fassbender is Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth, who lends the typically manipulative character enough remorse and redeeming qualities to have audiences shedding a tear or two. Fans of Game of Thrones can enjoy plenty of gruesome battle scenes and the cinematography is Braveheart-esque. The constant mist and mud create a mythical and supernatural atmosphere that do ‘the Scottish play’ justice. There’re new plot twists added that keep the story fresh without distorting the original text, showing there are always ways to bring the Bard back to life. As part of the film festival, there will be a special post-screening talk with stage director and Shakespearean scholar Tang Shu-wing.

Sat Apr 2, 7pm. $75, Sha Tin Town Hall, 1 Yuen Wo Rd, Sha Tin.

The Second Mother

A story about class friction and family ties, The Second Mother follows the story of a daughter visiting her mother, who works as a live-in housekeeper for a wealthy family. This Brazilian art house film has found international success thanks to its universal themes. The central relationship between mother and daughter is one relatable to all audiences, and the battle against class and cultural stigmatism remains as important as ever. Winner of the Berlin Film Festival audience award, writer/director Anna Muylaert artfully balances the tension with sharp injections of dry humour, and Regina Case’s portrayal of a frumpy yet spirited and energetic housekeeper is incredibly endearing, and not dissimilar to that of the typical Hong Kong auntie.

Sun Apr 3, 2.30pm. $75, The Grand Cinema, 2/F, Elements, 1 Austin Rd W, Kowloon.


Closing the festival and premiering for the first time in Asia, director and ‘king of horror’ Kiyoshi Kurosawa test the limits with his latest thriller, Creepy. Adapted from the award-winning mystery novel by Yutaka Maekawa, Creepy tells the story of a former detective returning to the unsolved case of a missing family, with storylines that collide with his secretive next door neighbours. Aptly titled, the film has no shortage of chilling characters that brings out goosebumps, all while gripping audiences with mind games up until the final revelation.

Mon Apr 4, 7pm. $75, Sha Tin Town Hall, 1 Yuen Wo Rd, Sha Tin; Mon Apr 4, 9.30pm. $75, UA Cityplaza, 5/F, 18 Taikoo Shing Rd, Taikoo Shing.

Hong Kong International Film Festival Various locations, Mon 21 Mar-Mon 4 Apr; hkiff.org.hk.


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