Directed by Jia Zhang-ke, Nakata Hideo, Alec Su, Stanley Kwan
Official Selection, 2016 Hong Kong International Film Festival
Official Selection, 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival
Since 2012, the Hong Kong International Film Festival has gifted to the film world shorts by some of cinema’s contemporary masters: Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Tsai Ming-liang, Wu Nien-jen, Kiyoshi Kurosawa. The commissioned works need not follow a unifying theme, nor does the audience need one. The opportunity to see new 20-minute films by the greats is beautiful enough.
This year’s collection includes Ringu director Hideo Nakata stepping out of the ghost genre he’s best known for and into old-time Japanese drama, casting Ozu and Kurosawa regular Kyoko Kawaga as an older woman who ventures by foot and train to the home of her first love. Relative newcomer Alec Su (The Left Ear) delivers the quartet’s formal standout: a documentary about a colorful woman who dances her way through Beijing. Hong Kong film fans can rejoice that Stanley Kwan (Rouge, Center Stage), who hasn’t released a short in five years and a feature in over a decade, is back with another tale of a woman in the entertainment industry attempting an emotional high-wire act. In this case, it’s a diva past her prime (played by Cecilia Yip) desperately sassing her way through a recording session.
That said, it’s Jia Zhang-ke who will get the most love for his contribution, The Hedonists, a dream-like, absurdist, yet socioeconomically searing yarn about three coal miners who get sacked and now have to try out for new roles. A spiritual spin-off of Jia’s Mountains May Depart (SDAFF, 2015), The Hedonists chides China’s managerial class and pokes fun at culture and history with the tragic irony you’d expect from the director of The World. –Brian Hu
Starring: Kyoko Kagawa, Yu Koyanagi, Wang Suping, Cecilia Yip, Luo Dong, Gao Ting Ting, David Yang