Hong Kong International Film Festival 2022: 10 highlights you shouldn’t miss, including local blockbusters Where the Wind Blows and Warriors of Future
- The festival’s 46th edition includes four world premieres and 32 Asian premieres, such as Where the Wind Blows, which stars Aaron Kwok and Marvel’s Tony Leung
- Viggo Mortensen and Kristen Stewart feature in horror Crimes of the Future and Alzheimer’s is examined in Vortex – a portrait of old age, illness and mortality
The Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) returns this month, after being bumped from its regular spring berth because of another round of pandemic-related cinema closures earlier this year.
The festival’s 46th edition runs from August 15-31 at venues across the city, as well as online, with more than 200 films from 67 countries screening.
1. Where the Wind Blows
Aaron Kwok Fu-shing and Tony Leung Chiu-wai appear together on screen for the first time to add some heavyweight glamour to Yung’s violent tale of friendship and rivalry between a pair of top Hong Kong detectives, and their allegiances with powerful figures in the criminal underworld.
2. Warriors of Future
Actor-producer Louis Koo Tin-lok’s extravagant science-fiction passion project has been in the works so long that many industry pundits thought it might never be completed.
But lo and behold, the all-star action spectacular is finally finished and ready to take audiences by storm, exploding onto screens on a scale never before seen in a Hong Kong production.
Koo stars opposite Lau Ching-wan, Carina Lau Ka-ling, Nick Cheung Ka-fai and a veritable who’s who of Hong Kong acting royalty, as members of an elite special forces team who must suit up to defend the city from an alien invasion.
3. To My Nineteen-Year-Old Self
Another world premiere to add to this year’s line-up is Mabel Cheung Yuen-ting’s long-gestating documentary about Hong Kong school life.
Inspired by the demolition and reconstruction of Ying Wa Girls’ School’s century-old campus in Mid-Levels, in Central on Hong Kong Island, Cheung – herself a former student there – spent 10 years painstakingly documenting a group of students through the trials and tribulations of their daily routines.
What emerges is not merely a film about school life, but a fascinating and thoroughly absorbing chronicle of Hong Kong during the most turbulent decade in the city’s history.
4. Crimes of the Future
In a bombed-out, post-apocalyptic future, Viggo Mortensen stars as a new kind of performance artist, conducting live invasive surgeries upon himself before entranced crowds of enamoured fans.
Léa Seydoux and Kristen Stewart play their parts in forming a typically bizarre and sexually charged ménage à trois, violating and repurposing their physical forms in ways that instantly recall the most audacious chapters of Cronenberg’s cinematic oeuvre.
5. Mad God
One of the most influential names in the world of visual effects, Phil Tippett pioneered stop-motion and model effects work in Star Wars, RoboCop, Starship Troopers and Jurassic Park, for which he won an Academy Award.
Now Tippett delivers his directorial debut, a carnivalesque stop-motion odyssey that follows a gas-masked assassin as he journeys into the bowels of Hell.
Thirty years in the making, Mad God is an insane masterpiece of unfathomable imagination, the likes of which have never been seen before, and most likely, will never be brought to life again. A true original.
Gaspar Noé is best-known for his violent, kaleidoscopic assaults on our senses, such as Enter the Void and Climax. His latest offering, however, marks a remarkable shift in style and direction for the controversial Argentinian.
Vortex is a tender and at times heartbreaking examination of old age, illness and mortality. Françoise Lebrun and legendary Italian filmmaker Dario Argento play an elderly couple, whose lives and relationships are crumbling because of ill-health and the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Told through unobtrusive split-screen, Noé shows us a story of two people sharing the same physical space yet perennially kept apart.
One of the few political opponents brave enough to run in opposition to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Alexei Navalny fell ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow in October 2020, quickly realising that he had been deliberately poisoned.
More thrilling than Hollywood’s most nail-biting blockbusters, Daniel Roher’s breathless roller-coaster of a documentary follows Navalny and his team as they investigate his own attempted murder, track down those responsible and uncover the truth before his climactic return to Russia in January 2021.
This is hands down one of the best films of the year.
8. Fire of Love
A beautiful love story about two people who share an infatuation with one of the most dangerous pursuits on the planet, Sara Dosa’s wonderful documentary serves as both a jaw-dropping showcase for the audacious power of Earth’s mightiest volcanoes, but also the incredible work of married vulcanologists Maurice and Katia Kraft.
Accompanied by beautiful narration from actress and filmmaker Miranda July, Fire of Love is a love story tinged with impending tragedy, but one that burns with a flaming, unquenchable passion plundered from the very depths of the human spirit, as well as the rich, molten core of this sphere we all call home.
Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1932 monochrome masterpiece remains one of world cinema’s most vivid depictions of a nightmare brought to life. Ninety years later, the film has lost none of its power to dazzle and terrify through its intoxicating atmosphere and breathtaking visuals.
Vampyr is just one of this year’s incredible line-up of restored classics, which also includes Vittorio De Sica’s Shoeshine, Carol Reed’s Oscar-winning musical Oliver!, Francis Ford Coppola’s brat pack classic The Outsiders, and Mike de Leon’s controversial The Rites of May.
Also screening is Abbas Kiarostami’s forgotten 1977 masterpiece The Report, and Mani Haghighi’s new documentary A Conversation on The Report.
10. The Infernal Affairs trilogy
As ever, HKIFF features an impressive panorama of Hong Kong cinema new and old, headlined this year by Andrew Lau Wai-keung and Alan Mak Siu-fai’s classic post-handover saga, the Infernal Affairs trilogy, newly restored by L’Immagine Ritrovata.
Elsewhere, actress Sandra Ng Kwan-yue is the recipient of a 10-film retrospective as this year’s Filmmaker in Focus, including Jiang Hu: The Triad Zone, Portland Street Blues and Golden Chicken.
Other restored Chinese classics include Ann Hui On-wah’s Boat People, Lou Ye’s Suzhou River and Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Millennium Mambo, in addition to a 10-film “Navigators of Hong Kong Cinema” showcase.