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Inaugural Hong Kong Cinema Festival Coming to San Francisco Film Society

Inaugural Hong Kong Cinema Festival Coming to San Francisco Film Society

The San Francisco Film Society, along with the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, will present the inaugural Hong Kong Cinema festival September 23-25 at the Society’s new home of New People Cinema.

Clement Cheng’s and Yan Yan Mak’s “Merry-Go-Round” and Vincent Kok’s “Mr. and Mrs. Incredible” will open the festival, while Benny Chan’s “City Under Siege” will close it.

Tickets are $13 for the general public. For more information, go here here.

Full press release and lineup below:

San Francisco, CA – The San Francisco Film Society in association with the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, San Francisco presents the inaugural Hong Kong Cinema festival, September 23 – 25 at the Film Society’s new theatrical home, San Francisco Film Society | New People Cinema (1746 Post Street). This exciting showcase highlights one of the world’s major filmmaking hubs and features recent films showcasing Hong Kong’s range of cinematic storytelling with works by both internationally known filmmakers as well as up-and-coming talents.

“The Hong Kong Cinema program provides a cogent snapshot of an industry that has established a global reputation for crowd-pleasing genres such as comedy, romance, historical drama and action,” said Film Society Director of Programming Rachel Rosen. “We first played a film — two, in fact — from Hong Kong at the third San Francisco International Film Festival in 1959, and it’s a pleasure to launch a festival devoted wholeheartedly to this dynamic filmmaking hub with the help of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, a partner of SFFS for over a decade.”

“Filmmaking is the flagship of Hong Kong’s booming creative industry. The city is driven by talented people and is uniquely positioned as the hub where East meets West,” said Jeff Leung, director of HKETO, San Francisco. “We are excited to present Hong Kong Cinema to Bay Area audiences this fall.”

The San Francisco Film Society has played a pioneering role in introducing Hong Kong cinema to Bay Area audiences through the San Francisco International Film Festival, which has shown over 70 Hong Kong films, beginning in 1959 with the screenings of The Kingdom and the Beauty and Tragedy of Love. The works of leading filmmakers — Fruit Chan, Peter Chan, Teddy Chen, Tsui Hark, Ivy Ho, Stanley Kwan, Clara Law, Andrew Lau, Run Run Shaw, Johnnie To and John Woo — have been featured, and superstars — Jackie Chan, Andy Lau — have been Festival guests. The championing of Hong Kong cinema will be further augmented by the introduction of Hong Kong Cinema to the Film Society’s Fall Season.

Hong Kong films are widely known and loved for their action-packed spectacle, but the industry is equally adept at matters from the heart as the Film Society’s first edition of Hong Kong Cinema demonstrates. The beloved and prolific Johnnie To departs from his usual fare with Don’t Go Breaking My Heart depicting a love triangle while equally popular filmmaker Benny Chan brings us City Under Siege, a genre-defying delight about a circus troupe infected with a powerful toxin. Independent work from Hong Kong is also showcased with the Opening Night film, the moving, multi-strand drama Merry-Go-Round, partially shot in San Francisco.

For complete program information visit sffs.org/Screenings-and-Events

Friday, September 23 Opening Night
6:30 pm “Merry-Go-Round”
Codirector Clement Cheng in person
Clement Cheng, Yan Yan Mak (Dongfeng po, 2010)
Two women of different generations travel from San Francisco to Hong Kong in this observational drama about the possibility of changing one’s life. Eva is a successful herbalist who returns home when her grandfather dies. Nam is a young woman facing personal difficulties who relocates to pursue a relationship with a man she meets online. As their stories intermingle, we learn about Eva’s first love, Nam’s odd interest in death and an elderly mortuary worker who has important knowledge to pass on to both women. Written by Yan Yan Mak, Clement Cheng. Photographed by Jason Kwan. With Nora Miao, Teddy Robin Kwan, Ella Koon, Lawrence Chou. 124 min. In Cantonese with subtitles. Distributed by Dragonfly J Production.
9:00 pm Opening Night reception with delicious hors d’oeuvres and wine at Superfrog Gallery at New People.
9:45 pm “Mr. and Mrs. Incredible” U.S. Premiere
Vincent Kok (San kei hap lui, Hong Kong/China 2011)
Being a retired superhero is a little dull for the protagonists of this delightful action comedy. After cracking a robbery case, Flint and Rouge decide to hang up their masks, move to a remote village and perhaps raise a family. When a martial arts competition comes to town with a supervillain in its midst, the couple must decide whether to resume their old identities. With the playful chemistry of Louis Koo and Sandra Ng, this movie offers entertainment the whole family can enjoy. Written by Vincent Kok, Fung Min-hun. Photographed by Peter Ngor. With Louis Koo, Sandra Ng, Chapman To, Li Qin. 100 min. In Cantonese with subtitles. Distributed by We Distribution.

Saturday, September 24
1:30 pm “City Under Siege”
Benny Chan (Chun sing gai bei, 2011)
Hong Kong Cinema’s nuttiest entry tells the story of a circus troupe whose members are exposed to a chemical toxin left behind by the Japanese in WWII. The mysterious substance gives its victims superhuman strength, and the performers use their new powers to rob banks and wreak havoc, all except the terminally put-upon clown, Sunny (played with comic flair by Aaron Kwok). With standout action, high-tech special effects and cops with secret powers of their own, this is genre-defying entertainment at its best. Written by Benny Chan, Ram Ling Chi Man, Carson Ling Lau Shun Yin. Photographed by Anthony Pun. With Aaron Kwok, Shu Qi, Collin Chou, Wu Jing, Zhang Jingchu. 110 min. In Cantonese with subtitles. Distributed by Universe Films Distribution.
4:00 pm “Merry-Go-Round” see 9/23
7:00 pm “All About Love”
Ann Hui (De xian chao fan, Hong Kong/China 2010)
This surprising film takes on weighty matters of gender, sexual preferences and childbirth in a playful story of two female lovers who are both pregnant. Twelve years after their initial breakup, successful lawyer Macy and executive assistant Anita reconnect in pregnancy class. Elegantly photographed, with an eye toward the physical and emotional dance that happens between new lovers, Hui’s latest shows that Hong Kong and San Francisco share a similar laissez-faire attitude when it comes to sexual politics. Written by Yeeshan Yang. Photographed by Charlie Lam. With Sandra Ng, Vivian Chow, Eddie Cheung, William Chan. 105 min. In Cantonese with subtitles. Distributed by Mega-Vision Pictures.
9:45 pm “Punished”
Law Wing-cheong (Bou ying, 2011)
A powerful businessman and his devoted bodyguard go up against a ruthless group of criminals in this gritty thriller produced by Johnnie To. When the wealthy Mr. Wong’s daughter Daisy is kidnapped, he marshals all his forces to find her. Using his loyal bodyguard, he attempts to root out the perpetrators while also going along with their demands. Through the film’s suspenseful turns, Punished also explores the limitations of vengeance and the difficulties of parents connecting with their kids amid the messiness of divorce. Written by Fung Chih-chiang, Lam Fung. Photographed by Ko Chiu-lam. With Anthony Wong, Richie Ren, Maggie Cheung Ho-yee, Janice Man, Candy Lo. 94 min. In Cantonese and Mandarin with subtitles. Distributed by Indomina Releasing.

Sunday, September 25
2:00 pm “Mr. and Mrs. Incredible” see 9/23
4:15 pm “Echoes of the Rainbow”
Alex Law (Shui yuet san tau, Hong Kong 2010)
Set in 1960s Hong Kong, this delicate story about the family of an illiterate shoemaker focuses on an eight-year-old boy nicknamed Big Ears. Idolizing his older brother, he wanders around the neighborhood with his head in a fishbowl pretending to be an astronaut. When tragedy strikes, the youngster must learn how to deal with hardship and loss. Evoking the era with several memorable songs and eliciting powerful performances from his cast, director Alex Law creates a touching coming-of-age tale suitable for the whole family. Written by Alex Law. Photographed by Charlie Lam. With Buzz Chung, Aarif Lee, Simon Yam, Sandra Ng, Ann Hui. 117 min. In Cantonese, Mandarin and French with subtitles. Distributed by Mei Ah Entertainment.
6:45 pm “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”
Johnnie To (Daan gyun naam yu, 2011)
Set against the backdrop of economic collapse, Johnnie To’s new film diverges from his usual actioners to tell the story of a woman torn between two men. At first captivated by the whimsical attentions of the successful Shen, who works in the building across from her, romantic idealist Zixin also finds herself drawn to the down-and-out architect Kevin, who saves her from being hit by a car. As fortunes and attachments shift, Zixin continues her search for love in this comedic portrait of modern relationships. Written by Wai Ka-fai, Yau Nai-hoi, Rayker Chan, Jevons Au. Photographed by Cheng Siu-keung, Hung Mo To. With Louis Koo, Daniel Wu, Yuanyuan Gao. 115 min. In Mandarin and Cantonese with subtitles. Distributed by Media Asia Films.
9:15 pm City Under Siege see 9/24

Film tickets $11 for SFFS members, $13 general, $12 seniors, students and persons with disabilities; Opening Night film and party $15 for SFFS members, $20 general; Film Society CineVoucher 10-Packs $105 for SFFS members, $125 general. Box office opens August 16 for members and August 23 for the general public: online at sffs.org, and in person beginning September 2 at Film Society Cinema.

Hong Kong Cinema is sponsored by Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, San Francisco and media partner Hyphen Magazine.

For screeners and interviews contact hilary@sffs.org
For photos and press materials visit sffs.org/pressdownloads

Upcoming San Francisco Film Society programs
Opens September 2: Film Socialisme Legendary director Jean-Luc Godard returns to the screen with a magisterial essay on the decline of European civilization.

Opens September 9: Puzzle A middle-aged housewife, cherished by her husband and two sons but nevertheless taken for granted, discovers an aptitude for jigsaw puzzles in this beautifully modulated character portrait from Argentina.

Opens September 16: Aurora Romanian filmmaker Cristi Puiu destroys all notions of crime as entertainment in this painstakingly realistic anatomy of a crisis, delivering a chilling character study of an ordinary person driven to extremes.

September 22: Grand Opening of Film Society Cinema A ribbon-cutting ceremony, sake ceremony, selection of short films and open house reception.

September 26: The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan Private McKinley Nolan vanished 40 years ago on the Cambodian frontier. In 2006, his younger brother travels from rural Texas to Vietnam to try to unravel the story in this moving documentary.

September 27: Film Arts Forum Bimonthly information-sharing, discussion, networking, professional development jamboree for the Bay Area film community.

September 28 – 29: Shaolin With a superstar cast including Andy Lau, Jackie Chan and Nicholas Tse, and the participation of a group of real Shaolin monks, this is an action-packed story of a ruthless warlord’s rehabilitation through Buddhist practice.

Opens September 30: Passione John Turturro’s tuneful exploration of the musical roots and traditions of Naples, Italy, as well as its influence on the rest of the world.

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