Young, bold and braving life's many challenges
Featuring 80 films from all over the region, and showcasing films created by both renowned Asian directors and emerging young talent, this year's festival appears to be themed on the struggle of youth in remote locations. Some portray youngsters challe
Country of origin: Taiwan
Weaving together the stories of four young people in Taiwan, the film captures the joy of youth and teenage angst. Forced to suspend her studies due to a congenital heart defect, young rocker Yuen spends her days playing guitar and roaming the streets. The wistful girl meets Chen, a gifted student who is expelled from school for falling in love with his teacher. The two high-school dropouts are joined by two other students. Wandering the countryside, the four lost souls savour the ebullience of their youth, freedom beside railroad tracks and under the clear
Country of origin: Hong Kong
Employing humour, the director of this remarkable film endeavoured to conjure up a story on the twin pursuits of dreams and happiness. Childhood friends Hei and Leggo run a cafe together where they perform magic tricks for customers. While sharing a love for magic, the two fall out over their love for Wing who works in a nearby store. Wing, touched by their devotion to the art of magic, is torn between the two men ...
Country of origin: Iran and France
The film is based on the comics made by Iranian artist Marjane Satrapi who chronicles her childhood and growth in Tehran in the 1970s and her escape to Austria and France after the Islamic Revolution. Filled with sketchy characters set against black-and-white backdrops, the movie retains the down-to-earth style of the original comics. In spite of the simple visuals, the film explores the gloomy realities confronting Iranian youths: political uncertainty, incessant civil restiveness and a restrictive culture that denies them the joys of fashion and pop culture. The film ends on an upbeat note with the girl leaving her country behind in pursuit of her love and dreams.
Crossing the Dust
Country of origin: Iraq-Kurdistan and France
Set in the first days after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the film portrays the difficulties faced by young Iraqis in the war-torn country. The protagonist of the film is a five-year-old child, Sadam, whose name brings him nothing but trouble after the ouster of the late Iraqi dictator. After being separated from his family, the child is helped by two Kurdish soldiers in the search for his parents. To paint an authentically gritty picture of the post-Saddam Iraq, the director used non-professional actors in the movie. Their realistic performances and documentary-like narrative provide a poignant study of the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq.
Country of origin: India, USA
Set in rural South India, the film traces a young Indian girl's passion for dancing, and her struggle to improve her standing in a society structured by rigid class divisions.
Coming from an impoverished family, the girl goes to work for a female dancer in the hope of getting the master to teach her. Being a lowly maid at her house, the 14-year-old learns how to survive and pursue her dreams under the domineering shadow of the master and her son. While extolling the determination of the budding dancer, the film also puts the spotlight on the chasms that exist between different classes in India.
Country of Origin: Philippines
Tracing a 13-year-old girl's crusade to bring democracy to her Philippines village, the film examines how illiteracy among the populace hinders the development of democracy in the country. The film opens with the 2004 presidential election. Struck by villagers' ignorance of the voting system, 13-year-old Jonalyn embarks on a mission to teach the adults of her mountain tribe the benefits of democracy. The film also traces her arduous journey deep into the jungle to bring her hunter grandfather to the ballot box. Showing how the young heroine pursues her democratic ideals against all the odds, the film exalts the liberating role democracy plays in backward communities.
I Want to Dance
Country of origin: China
Set in the remote mountains of Guizhou province, the film depicts how a plump village girl defies all the odds to compete in a traditional dance competition. Determined to break the norm that only skinny girls can perform in public, 14-year-old Pian goes on a strenuous training regime to prepare herself for the dance competition. From embroidering elaborate patterns on her dance headband to practising difficult dance moves, she leaves no stone unturned in her pursuit for the championship. Filled with picturesque scenes of remote villages in Southern China, the movie presents to the audience the unique culture and way of lives of the indigenous Guizhou people.
Country of origin: Korea
The horror film revolves around four Korean girls who are sent to a boarding school for a year of intensive study after failing their university entrance exams. Oppressed by the rigid rules and authoritative teachers at the school, one of the girls begins to see nightmarish visions of a tragic fire that broke out on campus three years ago. Filled with scenes showing youths weighed down by homework and exam stress, the film works well as both a social critique against the rigid Korean school system and a horror flick revisiting the dark past of a haunted school.
2007 Hong Kong Asian Film Festival
23 Sep to 10 Oct
Venues and ticket prices
Broadway Cinematheque in Yau Ma Tei ($55), Palace apm in Kwun Tong ($55), Palace IFC in Central ($70) and AMC Festival Walk in Kowloon Tong ($60)