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Illustration by Michaela Pointon
Illustration by Michaela Pointon
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What to Expect at the Hong Kong International Film Festival 2017

Picture of Sally Gao
Updated: 26 March 2017
The 41st Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF41) runs from April 11 to April 25. With hundreds of film screenings scheduled across the city, the 15-day event attracts some of the world’s top movie critics and filmmakers. If you’re interested in attending, here’s a quick guide to the buzziest premieres, screenings, talks, and seminars taking place during the festival.

Film screenings

This year’s lineup includes over 230 films from 65 countries. The festival opens with the world premiere of Love Off the Cuff (2017), part three of a hit rom-com trilogy directed by Pang Ho-Cheung.

The closing film will be the premiere of the black comedy-slash-horror flick mon mon mon MONSTERS (2017) from acclaimed Taiwanese director Giddens Ko, about a gang of teenagers who discover a man-eating monster.

The festival offers a large selection of international films, including both of the Cannes Film Festival’s Best Director winners — Personal Shopper (2016), directed by Olivier Assayas and starring Kristen Stewart, and Graduation (2016), from Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu.

Other acclaimed highlights include the French-Iranian film The Salesman (2016); Ma’ Rosa (2016) from the Philippines; The Red Turtle (2016), an Academy Award-nominated animation co-produced by Studio Ghibli and Dudok De Wit; and Julia Ducournau’s controversial cannibal thriller Raw (2016).

Meanwhile, old-school movie buffs will be delighted at the chance to see a number of beautifully restored classics on the big screen, including Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954), Andrei Tarkovsky’s Soviet sci-fi masterpiece Stalker (1979) and Jacques Rivette’s thirteen-hour experimental epic Out 1 (1971).

A celebration of Hong Kong cinema

One of the festival’s major highlights is “Paradigm Shift: Post-97 Hong Kong Cinema,” featuring 20 free screenings of Hong Kong films made since the 1997 handover. The selection includes Fruit Chan’s indie classic Made in Hong Kong (1997), as well Stephen Chow’s Shaolin Soccer (2001), Andrew Lau’s Infernal Affairs (2002), Johnnie To’s Election (2005), and Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster (2013).

In addition, “Hong Kong Panorama 2016-17” returns some of the biggest hits of the past year to the big screen, including Stephen Chow’s The Mermaid (2016), the highest-grossing Chinese film of all time, and Soul Mate (2016), for which leading actresses Zhou Dongyu and Ma Sichun shared the 53rd Golden Horse Award for Best Actress.

Dialogues and seminars

Three acclaimed auteurs — Olivier Assayas, director of Personal Shopper (2016), Agnieszka Holland, director of Spoor (2017), and Ildikó Enyedi, director of On Body and Soul (2017) — will hold post-screening talks as part of the festival’s “Master Class” program.

For those interested in the development of contemporary Hong Kong cinema, the “Paradigm Shift: Post-97 Hong Kong Cinema” series will be accompanied by two seminars, one on April 14 featuring Lam Kam-po, Long Tin, and Enoch Tam (in Cantonese), and one on April 17 with Colin Geddes, Thomas Sotinel, Stephen Teo (in English).

Lastly, documentary lovers should check out the “Dialogue with Filmmakers” program, a series of free lectures at Hong Kong University featuring documentary filmmakers such as Ann Marie Fleming, Nicholas de Pencier, Petr Lom, and Corinne van Egeraat.

How to buy tickets

Tickets for the majority of screenings will be available online after 10am on March 17 via Urbtix. A small number of films remain to be scheduled; check the HKIFF website for further details.

The “Post-97” free screenings will be available for online registration from March 24 onwards. A limited number of tickets for these films can be bought on-site 30 minutes prior to each screening.