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Hong Kong's 'Port Of Call' Eyes Oscar For Best Foreign Film

Picture of Sally Gao
Updated: 24 September 2016
Hong Kong’s 2016 submission for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film is the crime thriller Port of Call, the Motion Picture Industry Association announced on Thursday. Directed by Philip Yung, the meditative thriller film is based on the real-life murder of a young prostitute that caused a huge sensation in Hong Kong in 2008.

The locally acclaimed film beat other shortlisted contenders — including Stephen Chow’s The Mermaid, Benny Chan’s Call of Heroes, Steve Yuen Kim-wai’s Heaven in the Dark and Chan Chi-fat’s Weeds on Fire — to represent the region at the 89th Academy Awards.

Aaron Kwok stars as the protagonist, Detective Chong, with newcomer Jessie Li in the role of the immigrant call girl from mainland China who is gruesomely murdered by a client, played by Michael Ning.

Port of Call was the closing film of the 2015 Hong Kong International Film Festival and has picked up numerous accolades. It earned the Grand Prize at Korea’s Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, a genre film festival devoted to horror, thriller, mystery, and fantasy films. It was also nominated for every category at the 35th Hong Kong Film Awards and won seven, including Best Screenplay for writer-director Philip Yung, Best Actor for Aaron Kwok, and Best Cinematography for Christopher Doyle.

This is the first entirely Cantonese film to represent Hong Kong at the Oscars since 2012. Although Cantonese is spoken in Hong Kong, the 2015 and 2014 submissions — Dante Lam’s To the Fore and Anna Hui’s The Golden Era — were Mandarin-language movies, and the 2013 contender, Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster, featured a mix of Mandarin and Cantonese.

The last time Hong Kong’s submission for the foreign film category made it to the final list of nominees was 1993, with Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine.