Chinese Film Panorama 2015: four films to watch
Modernisation and patriotism in war among the themes of our selection of the best of the annual Hong Kong fest
The Chinese box office, already the second largest globally, is on track to overtake the US as the world’s largest film market in three years. Although audiences on the mainland flock to see Hollywood blockbusters, Chinese films are increasing in popularity.
Perhaps the best example is the festival known as Chinese Film Panorama. Started by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department in 1997 – the year of the handover – to commemorate Chinese cinema in Hong Kong, the programme is now in its 19th year and still going strong. There are 10 films on the bill, which runs from October 19 to November 20 at various venues around the city.
Here are our top four films:
Hundred Regiments Offensive
This year is the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in the second world war, and Hundred Regiments Offensive – about the heroic efforts of Chinese soldiers as they take on the Japanese army – would serve as the programme’s opening film. Expect massive battle scenes and unabashed Chinese patriotism.
Consisting of nine stories about underprivileged children pursuing their dreams with the help of adults, One Day is an uplifting and meaningful film that’s suitable for the whole family. Winning various overseas short-film awards, the film serves to raise awareness about underprivileged children in rural China.
A remake of Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men, 12 Citizens is about a jury panel made up of a dozen university students – strangers to one another – who must decide on the guilt or acquittal of a man accused of murdering his father. It’s an entertaining film (it’s surprisingly funny) and a social study that tackles recent mainland issues such as the class divide.
Song of the Phoenix
The final film directed by Wu Tianming, Song of the Phoenix is about the rapid modernisation of China in recent years, as seen through the eyes of a young village boy as he attempts to learn the classical Chinese instrument, the suona. A fitting swansong for Wu, the acclaimed filmmaker known as “The Father of New China Cinema” who died of a heart attack at 74 in March 2014.
Chinese Film Panorama 2015, October 19 to November 20. Various venues, HK$55 Urbtix. Inquiries: 3761 6661/2734 2900