From the sublime to the hilarious: what to see at Hong Kong Sundance Film Festival 2016

The varied programme of the third edition of the festival starts tonight with Swiss Army Man, and includes a section dedicated to short films for the first time

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 September, 2016, 1:12pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 September, 2016, 11:49am

The Hong Kong edition of Sundance Film Festival returns this week for its third edition, again co-organised by the Sundance Institute and The Metroplex cinema in Kowloon Bay.

Featuring 10 feature-length films by American independent directors and three by international filmmakers, the programme kicks off tonight with opening film Swiss Army Man, which has been described by some as the strangest film in Sundance history. In the surreal buddy movie, Paul Dano plays a suicidal castaway and Daniel Radcliffe plays the farting corpse he befriends.

The programme highlights include Captain Fantastic, the family comedy starring Viggo Mortensen that won Matt Ross the best director prize in the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard section this year; Life, Animated, a heart-warming documentary about an autistic boy who made sense of the world through Disney animations; and Southside with You, an engaging walkabout based on Barack and Michelle Obama’s first date.

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Rounding out the US Film section are: Christine, a real-life drama about the news reporter who killed herself on live television in 1974; the Wall Street thriller Equity; The Free World, in which an ex-con and a suspected murderess fall in love; relationship drama The Intervention; Lovesong, another delicate drama by Treeless Mountain director So Yong Kim; and the steamy Spa Night, about a Korean-American’s coming-out experience in Los Angeles.

Hong Kong director Nicola Fan’s documentary She Objects, on the media’s systematic objectification of women, is one of three films presented in the festival’s World Cinema section, which also includes The Lovers and the Despot, a wonderfully bizarre documentary on the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il’s movie obsession, and infidelity drama Pleasure – Love, by the first-time Chinese director Huang Yao.

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This year’s programme has also brought a new short film section from the US festival to Hong Kong for the first time. Winning entries from the Hong Kong short film competition will be screened on September 25.

As participants of two panel discussion sessions to be held over this weekend, the directors of Swiss Army Man, The Free World, Southside with You, Life, Animated, Spa Night, The Intervention and Pleasure – Love will all be in town for the festival. They will also attend Q&A sessions after their respective film’s screenings this week.

Sundance Film Festival: Hong Kong runs until October 2 at The Metroplex, Kitec, 1 Trademart Drive, Kowloon Bay. For more details, go to