Far East Film Festival diary: Day 6
Fruit Chan’s Made in Hong Kong remastered in 4K, Huayi boss on the Chinese movie industry (and The Great Wall) and cinema’s finest samurai Toshiro Mifune
On day six we were listening to …
… veteran Hong Kong director Fruit Chan introduce the 4K version of his 1997 street-wise drama Made in Hong Kong, reworked with the help of the Far East Film Festival (FEFF) and Italy’s own L’Immagine Ritrovata film restoration laboratory.
Its vibrancy remains as does the picture it paints of the city’s youth, embodied by Sam Lee in the lead as Moon, a low-level punk trying to make his way toward a future that is as unsure as Hong Kong’s was back in the year that it reverted to the control of Beijing.
Given the fact that FEFF is also hosting a retrospective of Hong Kong cinema in the 20 years since, it was a timely piece of programming. That the future remains as unclear today as it was back then speaks volumes for Chan’s ability to tap in to the culture from which he emerged.
“After you’ve seen this movie, you will feel its power,” he said before the Wednesday night screening. “I want to talk more.”
Chan will be part of a much anticipated FEFF Coffee and Talks session on Thursday, alongside fellow Hong Kong veteran actor Eric Tsang, also here to receive a Golden Mulberry lifetime achievement award.
Thinking about …
… the matter-of-fact manner in which James Wang dealt with questions about the rise (and rise) of the Chinese film industry. It will be the world’s largest before you know it (next year, if estimates are correct) and the chief executive of the powerful Huayi Brothers studio is in town alongside one of its stars in Chinese box office king Feng Xiaogang.
As what the world should make of the epic failure of the biggest film to ever come out of China – the Zhang Yimou-directed The Great Wall, which lost an estimated US$75 million for the Legendary East production house – Wang brushed the case aside.
“The Chinese film industry is still growing and still learning,” he said. “There will be failures as well as successes which is just the same for any industry. The positive thing is that we will keep trying and we will keep getting better.”
… the story of legendary Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune, hero in so many of Akira Kurosawa finest epics, as told through Steven Okazaki’s insightful documentary Mifune: The Last Samurai.
He appeared in around 170 films before passing away in 1997 and the struggles his characters faced often reflected the trials of Mifune’s own life (he spent much of World War II preparing suicide squads for their last missions). Clips and interviews with former co-stars and crew paint a picture of a man as enigmatic as the complex characters he portrayed.
… like a real newshound. Asia Times has sponsored this year’s FEFF Campus for aspiring journalists that has seen four from Asia and five from Europe thrown head-first into life as it is when you are covering a film festival.
For many it’s meant the pressure of newsroom-style deadlines – for the first time. But don’t spare too much pity as the rewards are many and varied, as captured by Campus member Barbara Sorger, from Austria, who tells us the dish is Torta di Mele from Pepata di Corte and, yes, it was devoured.
Video of the Day:
Director Fruit Chan introduces the 4K remastered version of his Made in Hong Kong (from the seven-minute mark). Chan shared how the film was made with a small crew of just five or six and the strong support of his producers. He remarked on how it will remind viewers that “cinema is power” after watching it, as it was made on a shoestring budget.