Tough competition for Golden Lion
Vivienne Chow in Venice
HK entry faces off with highly praised South Korean film
The Hong Kong contender for the Venice Film Festival's top award faces strong competition from South Korea's entry, which has earned wide acclaim from international press and juries.
Still, Park Chan-wook, director of Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, South Korea's contender for the Golden Lion, said he didn't want to set his hopes too high.
Foreign critics at the festival have high expectations of Stanley Kwan Kam-pang's Everlasting Regret.
Saul Symonds, a member of the jury which will award the international critics' prize, said he was very eager to see Kwan's new feature.
'It promises to be a better representation of what modern Chinese cinema has to offer than Venice's other Chinese entries, such as [mainland director Ning Ying's] Wuqiong Dong (Perpetual Motion] which is in the Horizons competition],' Mr Symonds said.
'Word around the Lido is that Kwan is a good contender for the Golden Lion, but he is also up against George Clooney's much touted Good Night, and Good Luck, a film which many here believe deserves top honours.'
Kwan's Hong Kong-mainland co-production has finally passed the mainland censors and its arrival has been confirmed for tomorrow's first press screening.
Sources said Kwan's film, whose backdrop stretches from the Cultural Revolution era to modern China, had to be re-edited to cut out sequences related to certain political issues.
Kwan's feature stars Canto-pop singer Sammi Cheng Sau-man as a Shanghai beauty struggling with the constant betrayal of her men. South Korean Park said: 'I don't know the jury's taste and I haven't seen other films in competition yet so I don't have any expectations.
'Other films are by directors of high-profile names. I was trembling when meeting my hero Terry Gilliam [director of The Brothers Grimm, also in competition].'
The star of Park's film, Hong Kong's favourite South Korean actress Lee Young-ae, best known for her role in the TV series Jewel in the Palace, said she was honoured to have received so many compliments at the festival for her performance.
'This proves that I made the right choice to do this film,' said Lee, who plays the role of an outraged prisoner planning revenge. 'I just hope that people can continue to love me whether I'm playing [the role in Jewel in the Palace] or not.'