Hong Kong film fest international by name, local by nature

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The Independent Culture

The Hong Kong film industry has been talking about a return to the good old days and the 34th Hong Kong International Film Festival is now joining in the chorus.

And so the accent is most definitely on local productions at this year's March 21-April 6 festival (http://www.hkiff.org.hk), which will see 11 Hong Kong productions making their premiere.

Leading the way is the love story Crossing Hennessy - starring multi-award winner Jacky Cheung opposite Tang Wei, last seen in Ang Lee's Lust, Caution - which will open the festival on March 21.

"Over the years, the HKIFF has become regarded as a leading platform for filmmakers, film professionals and filmgoers from all over the world to launch new works and experience outstanding films,'' the festival's chairman Wilfred Wong said on announcing the lineup.

"The festival is a particularly valuable vehicle for Hong Kong filmmakers to release new films in Asia and showcase them to the world's audience. At this year's HKIFF, we are delighted to present 11 new Hong Kong films.''

Among them will be Like A Dream - a return to Chinese filmmaking by the internationally acclaimed director Clara Law ( Floating Life) - and Echoes of the Rainbow, which created a huge noise locally when picking up a minor prize at the recent 60th Berlin International Film Festival.

The Hong Kong government was quick to jump on the film's Crystal Bear - awarded from Berlin's youth-oriented Generation section - saying it signaled a sign the worst days were over in Hong Kong, which has in recent years since film production numbers plummet from the heady days of the 1980s when more than 300 film were made a year.

The government announced that production numbers had risen by 30 percent last year - to 70 - and were expected to rise again this year.

This year's Hong Kong festival - considered among the region's top three, alongside Tokyo and Busan in South Korea - will also turn its focus on a Visionary Master Directors series, looking at the work of Greece's Theo Angelopoulos; Japan's Shimazu Yasujiro, Poland's Krzysztof Zanussi and India's Guru Dutt.

The 34th HKIFF will feature more than 240 films from more than 50 countries, 65 of which are being billed as world, international or Asian premieres.

Hong Kong International Film Festival

March 21-April 6

Various venues