HK15, a festival of film celebrating the 15th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China, kicks off tomorrow with a fantastic programme of 15 films. It’s tough to pick out highlights from such a strong line-up, but here are the three films I am most looking forward to seeing:
A Simple Life July 2nd | 7pm: Based on a true story, A Simple Life focusses on the relationship between Roger (Andy Lau), the master of a large, rich family, and Ah Tao (Deanie Ip), the family’s servant who raised Roger from childhood. As the ravages of old age start to take their toll on Ah Tao a role reversal takes place; Roger becomes the care-giver, trying his best to help the spirited and self-sufficient Ah Tao as her body begins to deteriorate.
I saw this film at last year’s London Film Festival and cannot wait to see it again. The performances by both actors are wonderful – Ip won the best actress award at Venice Film Festival – they bring such warmth and affection to their roles and the, perhaps unlikely, relationship between the characters is totally believable. The story is incredibly sweet but never becomes mawkish, there is plenty of humour, and if you’re not at least close to tears by the end you need to go and find your misplaced soul.
One-Armed Swordsman July 7th | 8.45: Produced by the Shaw Brothers, 1967’s One-Armed Swordsman is a seminal film of the wuxia genre. After his father, Fang Cheng, gives his life to defend the master of The Golden Sword School, Fang Kang – now orphaned – is taken in by the school’s master as an act of gratitude. In a conflict with his hostile fellow students, Fang Kang loses an arm and is forced to leave the school. Xiao Man, a peasant girl, nurses him back to health and helps him develop a new style of one-armed sword fighting. Through determination he hones his skills to a level at which he may be able to aid his former master in the face of a dangerous threat.
Considered by many critics to be a turning point within the wuxia genre – moving away from the dramatic, theatrical style to a grittier, bloodier aesthetic influenced by Japanese samurai films – One-Armed Swordsman is a must see on the big screen.
Big Blue Lake July 9th | 6.15: Jessey Tsang Tsui-Shan bases Big Blue Lake on her own experiences of returning home. Protagonist, Cheung left home to become an actress, after years away she returns to the childhood village in which she grew up. Finding that her mother has developed Alzheimers Disease, Cheung decides to stay on and take care of her. This decision sparks a personal journey on which Cheung rediscovers her former home and her own sense of self.
Shot in a cinema verite style, the film promises to be a quiet, understated study of personal discovery and human relationships. Very much looking forward to seeing it.