The 40th Hong Kong International Film Festival boasts a lineup of 240 feature films that will be screened between March 21st and April 4th. Frankly, there are murmurs of a mid-life crisis as what was once Asia’s marquee film festival in the 1980s and early 90s—mainly for being the springboard for China’s Fifth Generation—has now rendered as a mere feast for local cinephiles. That is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on what one expects from the festival. Numerous factors—including the shameful decline (or death) of the local film industry, the emergence of Busan and other festivals in Asia, the expansion of the Chinese market—has contributed to this identity shift.
But for moviegoers, the show goes on. The vast lineup spanning works from 66 countries can be overwhelming. At the risk of missing out many worthy titles, here are a few of my picks (I haven’t seen any of them, so it’s an educated guess):
Bleak Street(directed by Arturo Ripstein)
The Mexican veteran who made The Caste of Purity directs this black-and-white crime film featuring two midget luchadores. I (and you) do not need to read any further.
No Home Movie (directed by Chantal Akerman)
This is experimental filmmaker and feminist cinema trailblazer Chantal Akerman’s last film before her suicide last year. Her groundbreaking Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles is also playing at this year’s festival. Pay your respects to this irreplaceable artist.