SF Film Society Presents 3rd Annual Hong Kong Cinema

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Hong Kong Film Festival

San Francisco, CA — The San Francisco Film Society will kick off its Fall Season with the third annual Hong Kong Cinema festival, October 4 – 6 at the Vogue Theatre (3290 Sacramento Street), presented in association with the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, San Francisco. This annual festival of exciting new work from one of the world’s most important filmmaking hubs showcases Hong Kong’s range of cinematic storytelling with contributions from both internationally known filmmakers as well as up-and-coming talents. The 2013 edition also includes an exciting tribute to Lau Kar-leung (aka Liu Chia-liang), the late master of kung-fu fight choreography responsible for many of the beloved genre’s most important works.

Download a PDF of the full program here.

“This year, on top of a remarkably diverse program of current features from Hong Kong that includes everything from historical epics, intimate dramas and international crime thrillers to a documentary look at a Cantopop phenomenon, our two-film tribute to the inimitable Lau Kar-leung promises to be a highlight,” said SFFS Director of Programming Rachel Rosen. “This legendary stuntman, fight choreographer and director who passed away in June is responsible for some of the most indelible martial arts features of all time and we are pleased to make it possible for audiences to experience them again on the big screen.”

“It is our great pleasure to partner with the San Francisco Film Society again to present eight Hong Kong movies of different genres in this year’s festival,” said Subrina Chow, Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, San Francisco. “We are excited to see a mini retrospective on veteran director Lau Kar-leung as well as movies by promising young directors supported by the Hong Kong Film Development Fund. Three movies in the selection are being shown for the first time in American theaters. San Franciscan audiences should not miss the opportunity to enjoy them ahead of the rest of the country!”

Hong Kong films are widely known and loved for their deft use of genre in all forms, and the third edition of Hong Kong Cinema delivers the highest quality new work for a variety of tastes. Kicking off the festival is Opening Night filmBends, the debut full-length production from Flora Lau that features a knockout lead performance from Carina Lau. HK icons appear throughout this year’s festival, including superstar Andy Lau (Blind Detective), Chow Yun-fat (The Last Tycoon), Aaron Kwok (Conspirators) and Cantopop sensations Grasshopper and Softhard, subjects of the music documentary The Great War. Kung-fu fans will delight in the big-screen presentation of The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, the universally celebrated martial arts classic that has inspired such luminaries as Quentin Tarantino and the Wu-Tang Clan.

For complete program information visit sffs.org/Exhibition/Fall-Season.

FRIDAY OCTOBER 4
5:30 pm Opening Night reception with delicious hors d’oeuvres and wine at Paul Mahder Gallery.
7:00 pm Bends    Opening Night Film
Flora Lau (Hong Kong 2013)
Featured in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard, Flora Lau’s debut feature tells the dual story of a chauffeur trying to find a way for his wife on the mainland to give birth in Hong Kong and the wealthy woman he works for who is hiding the disappearance of her husband (and her money) from family and friends. With two terrific lead performances — particularly Carina Lau as the immaculately dressed and coiffed Anna Li, whose hauteur keeps her from opening up to anyone except her driver — and spectacular cinematography by Christopher Doyle, Bends depicts the desperation hidden underneath the glittering surfaces of modern Hong Kong. Written by Flora Lau. Cinematography by Christoper Doyle. With Carina Lau, Chen Kun. 92 min. In Cantonese and Mandarin with subtitles. Distributed by Distribution Workshop.
9:30 pm Blind Detective    U.S. Premiere
Johnnie To (Man tam, Hong Kong 2013)
A delirious mix of comedy, mystery and romance, Johnnie To’s brand-new film offers superstar Andy Lau as the titular protagonist, a rather hapless investigator with a singular skill — his handicap allows him to “visualize” the very particular details of a crime scene. When he teams up with an admiring and athletically adept female police inspector named Ho, they find that their respective skills complement one another perfectly. As they search for Ho’s childhood friend Minnie who disappeared 20 years prior and other cases crop up in the process, an increasingly romantic attraction grows between the two detectives. Written by Wai Ka-fai, Yau Nai-hoi, Ryker Chan, Yu Xi. Cinematography by Cheng Siu-keung. With Andy Lau, Sammi Cheng. 129 min. In Cantonese with subtitles. Distributed by Media Asia Film Distribution (HK).

SATURDAY OCTOBER 5
2:00 pm Bends    see 10/4
4:00 pm The 36th Chamber of Shaolin
Lau Kar-leung (Shao Lin san shi liu fang, Hong Kong 1977)
The recent death of martial arts legend Lau Kar-leung (aka Liu Chia-liang) warrants a tribute screening of this essential kung-fu film directed by Lau himself. Starring the filmmaker’s frequent collaborator Liu Chia-hui (aka Gordon Liu), the story involves a student at the Shaolin monastery who undertakes grueling martial arts training in order to wreak vengeance on the marauders who occupied his village. With astonishing fight choreography by director Lau, the film has influenced legions of artists including the Wu-Tang Clan and Quentin Tarantino and was selected by Black Belt magazine as the third-best martial arts film of all time. Written by Ni Kuang. Cinematography by Arthur Wong. With Gordon Liu, Lieh Lo, Yang Yu, Wang Yu. 119 min. In Mandarin and Cantonese with subtitles. Distributed by Celestial Pictures.
6:30 pm The Last Tycoon 
Wong Jing (Da Shanghai, Hong Kong 2012)
Grand passions meet turbulent times in this sumptuous historical epic set predominantly in 1930s Shanghai. The film traces the rise of a rural-born fruit seller named Cheng Daqi (Chow Yun-fat in the later scenes) who becomes a powerful crime lord with constantly shifting allegiances. While Daqi’s story and his love for two different women is the main focus, The Last Tycoon also details the fraught relationship between China and Japan during this period, climaxing with the devastating Battle of Songhu. The film also features HK icon Sammo Hung in a memorable supporting role as a corrupt cop. Written by Wong Jing, Manfred Wong, Lui Koon-nam. Cinematography by Jason Kwan, Andrew Lau. With Chow Yun-fat, Monica Mok, Sammo Hung. 118 min. In Mandarin with subtitles. Distributed by Distribution Workshop.
9:00 pm The Great War: Director’s Cut
Yan Yan Mak (Hong Kong 2013)
If you missed the October 2012 showdown between Hong Kong superstar pop groups Grasshopper and Softhard, this entertaining documentary captures each members’ thoughts and feelings about the event, explores attendees’ obsessions and presents vivid onstage moments from the show. While Grasshopper is a fairly typical Cantopop group — led by the perfectionist Remus Choy — Softhard displays more of a hip-hop edge, incorporating political satire and ribald humor into their act. Featuring lengthy interviews with the five main band members interspersed with terrific live footage, it’s an entertaining look at the international phenomenon of the Hong Kong pop scene. Cinematography by Jam Yau, Harry Lee, Amos Wong, Stanley Tam, Noah Wong, Chun Wong. 85 min. In Cantonese with subtitles. Distributed by Dragonfly J.

SUNDAY OCTOBER 6
1:15 pm The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter
Lau Kar-leung (Wu Lang ba gua gun, Hong Kong 1984)
This kung-fu classic is one of the Shaw Brothers’ most spectacular presentations and features the same actor/director team as The 36th Chamber of Shaolin. Here, Gordon Liu’s character seeks to avenge the death of family members who are ambushed and slaughtered by Tartars in the remarkable opening sequence. Having escaped the attack, he retreats to a monastery where he must convince the abbot he is worthy of receiving training in special pole-fighting techniques. In a rousing climax, he puts his training to vivid use in order to rescue his sister who has been kidnapped by the same marauding Tartars. Written by Liu Chia-liang, Ni Kuang. Cinematography by Tsao An-shun. With Wang Yu, Gordon Liu, Alexander Fu, Sheng Liu. 97 min. In Mandarin with subtitles. Distributed by Celestial Pictures.
3:30 pm The Last Tycoon    see 10/5
6:00 pm A Complicated Story    International Premiere
Kiwi Chow (Hong Kong 2013)    Director in person
Yazi Liu is a young woman from mainland China studying in Hong Kong who takes a lucrative gig as a surrogate mother. She is kept in a private apartment with a personal assistant, and the identities of the parents are kept from her. But when her contract is abruptly terminated and identities are revealed on both sides, Liu is forced to make a series of life-altering decisions. Made by a crew comprised predominantly of students from the School of Film & Television and executive produced by Johnnie To and Bill Kong, A Complicated Story portrays issues of class and sexuality with texture and style. Written by Kei Shu, Kiwi Chow. Cinematography by Ying Zhang. With Jacky Cheung, Zhiying Zhu, Stephanie Che, Zi Yi. 108 min. In Cantonese with subtitles. Distributed by Edko Films.
8:45 pm Conspirators    North American Premiere
Oxide Pang (Tóngmóu, Hong Kong/China 2013)
In this action-packed mystery/thriller, Malaysian-born Chan Tam (Aaron Kwok) returns to his native soil to track down the men who murdered his parents 30 years earlier. To help him navigate the treacherous underworld, he enlists local PI Zheng (Nick Cheung). As they uncover a dense web of nefarious behavior, both men’s familial histories come into play. The film’s several tense action sequences, including Tam’s remarkable escape from an office building and a speeding train are bolstered by Kwok and Cheung’s humorous rapport and the nifty international locales. Written by Ng Mang-cheung, Oxide Pang, Thomas Pang. Cinematography by Decha Srimantra. With Aaron Kwok, Nick Cheung, Yi Yan Jiang. 102 min. In Cantonese and Mandarin with subtitles. Distributed by Universe Films Distribution.

Film tickets $12 for SFFS members, $14 general, $13 seniors, students and persons with disabilities, $10 children (12 and under); Opening Night film and party tickets $20 for SFFS members, $25 general; Fall Season CineVoucher 10-Packs $110 for SFFS members, $130 general. Box office opens September 4 for members and September 6 for the general public online at sffs.org.

Hong Kong Cinema is sponsored by Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, San Francisco; the Laurel Inn; opening night party sponsor Paul Mahder Gallery; and media partners SF WeeklySan Francisco Bay Guardian and San Francisco Examiner.

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