33rd Hong Kong
China, March 22 - April 13 2009
There is no single way in which a visit to Hong Kong can be anything but exotic and exciting, and in a month over March and April each year, the always bustling city swells with outrageously costumed rugby fans for the Hong Kong Sevens, and salivating cinephiles looking forward to the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
In this 33rd year of the event, a significant change came in the form of sponsorship by the W Hotel Group, which meant a boon for both guests and audience members. At a hundred or so floors topped by an extraordinary outdoor pool, and featuring The Living Room — an impressive entertainment area — the luxurious W Hotel became somewhere for guests and other festival goers to lounge and recuperate from an impressively diverse film program.
Between 22nd March and 13th April, cinephiles have been able to choose from a wide range of world films, documentaries, shorts, retrospectives, and tribute programs to filmmakers including Ichikawa Jun, Hans Richter, Michelangelo Antonioni, Yu Hyun-mok, Evan Yang, and one extraordinary installation co-curated with the Swedish Institute and labeled The Bergman Tree. The festival also supports four competitions: the Asian Digital Competition; the Humanitarian Award for Documentaries; the 4th Fresh Wave Short Film Competition; and our own FIPRESCI Award for Best Debut Feature Film.
The FIPRESCI Jury chose Zou Peng’s carefully considered A Northern Chinese Girl (2009) from an impressive field featuring films from countries including China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore and Korea. Peng’s excellent direction of mainly untrained actors combined perfectly with the exciting new talent of cinematographer Pablo Enrique Mendoza Ruiz; both of these men headed a team that crafted a deeply affecting story of a young woman struggling to make ends meet in the harsh landscape of a city wracked by economic turmoil, and forced to cater to the whims of others while still searching for her own fulfillment. (Tim Milfull)