Debut directors in spotlight at Hong Kong Asian Film Festival

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 October, 2012, 9:26pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2012, 8:09am

The stars of Cold War kicked off the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival on Tuesday, but the festival spotlight this year will shine on rising directors with a social conscience. 

From Hong Kong, there is Gilitte Leung, whose Love Me Not tells the unlikely love story between two friends who are gay and lesbian, and Lai Yan-chi, who examines the impact of urban development through the eyes of Tsoi Yuen Tsuen villagers in her debut feature N+N.

"Media coverage of the demolition of Tsoi Yuen village mainly focused on high-profile disputes between villagers and the government," says Lai, the 29-year-old director, "but I wanted to understand how the ordinary villager felt."

Shanghai filmmaker Ying Liang's When Night Falls (2012, photo above), which made the official selection at multiple international film festivals including in Toronto and Busan, is another one of the festival's highlights. The movie, based on the true story of a man sentenced to death for killing six Shanghai policemen after a trial many believe was unfair, was first publicly screened at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts earlier in the year despite repeated warnings from Chinese authorities.

Gary Mak, organiser of HKAFF, said: “Supporting new directors has always been our main goal. Hopefully we can help bring these talents together and provide a platform for them to learn from each other."

This year's festival also features a selection of North Korean films, including The Flower Girl (1972), a North Korean classic adapted from an opera supposedly written by "The Great Leader" Kim Il-sung, and the internationally produced Dear Pyongyang (2005), a documentary by Korean-Japanese director Yang Yong-hi which records her reunion with brothers in Pyongyang after years of reluctant separation.

The festival opens on November 2 with Hong Kong crime thriller Cold War, which was also the opening film for this year's Busan Film Festival.

For screening schedule and ticketing information, visit