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The world premiere of Ip Man: The Final Fight, from Hong Kong cult icon and veteran director Herman Yau, opened the 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival (March 17 – April 2). Starring Anthony WONG, Eric TSANG, Gillian CHUNG, Anita YUEN, Jordan CHAN and Marvel CHOW, this is a unique biopic of the oft-filmed Wing Chun martial arts master (1893 – 1972) in his later life. Andrew L. Urban reports from Hong Kong.

The Festival closes with the Asian premiere of Closed Curtain, winner of the Silver Bear for Best Script at the recently concluded Berlin Film Festival, co-helmed by Iranian filmmakers Jafar PANAHI and Kamboziya PARTOVI.

Closed Curtain is PANAHI’s follow-up to last year’s universally praised This Is Not a Film (36th HKIFF), despite a 20-year filmmaking ban in his native Iran. Mirroring Panahi’s own house arrest, the two protagonists – a screenwriter keeping a dog that Islamic law deems to be unclean, and a young woman on the run after getting caught in an illicit party in the beach – hide in a villa on the Caspian Sea. Fiction blurs with reality as the director enters the scene and the curtains are pulled open.

Following the condemnation of Closed Curtain and its reception at the Berlin Film Festival, Iranian government officials seized the passports of the film’s co-director, Kambuzia Partovi, and actor Maryam Moghadam on March 1.With passports confiscated, Partovi and Moghadam were not be able to personally promote the film in Hong Kong, and Panahi remains under house arrest.


With over 300 titles from 68 countries and regions, the program is eclectic, boasting 56 world, international and Asian premieres. “In recent years, Hong Kong has seen a proliferation of film festivals with distinct themes and styles, offering audiences countless choices beyond mainstream productions,” said Wilfred WONG, SBS, JP, Chairman of the Festival’s governing body “Indeed we love cinema for its very diversity, and as one of the most established and largest film festivals in Asia, the HKIFF has dedicated itself to presenting quality works from all over the world, while drawing luminaries and young talents from the industry to engage with the public through seminars, exhibitions, parties, and much more.”

Saving General Yang, Drug War (center), Call Girl

The energy and creativity of Chinese cinema is on full display through a variety of Chinese productions. These include the world premiere of Ronny YU’s star-studded period piece Saving General Yang, with Adam CHENG, Ekin CHENG, Chun WU, Raymond LAM and Vic ZHOU; Taiwanese American Arvin CHEN’s light-hearted gay dramedy Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, set in a colourful Taipei and starring Richie JEN and Mavis FAN; and the premiere of Johnnie TO’s chilling thriller Drug War, where Hong Kong’s heartthrob Louis KOO and China’s beloved veteran XUN Honglei are locked in a life-or-death cat-and-mouse game. 

"foreign-language films beyond mainstream"

The HKIFF showcases foreign-language films beyond mainstream cinema hoping to broaden the cinematic horizons of local audiences. “The Passions of Latin American Cinema” and “Swedish Sextet”, two special sections in the programme this year, featured fourteen new films in total, offering Hong Kong a valuable look at cinema and social life in other parts of the world. 

In particular Mikael MARCIMAIN’s directorial debut Call Girl, winner of the FIPRESCI prize at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival, stunningly captures the look and atmosphere of Sweden’s decadent 1970s, recounting the true story of a pair of 14-year-olds recruited by a well-connected madame, whose clients include some powerful political figures. 

The program also showcases eight winners fresh from the 63rd Berlin Film Festival, together with two nominees for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars: No and Rebelle (aka War Witch), just a week after its Australian release.

* Andrew L. Urban attended Hong Kong Filmart and the HKIFF as a guest of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. 

Published March 21, 2013

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IP Man: The Final Fight

Hong Kong Film Festival



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