Aug 16, 2012|
HK Magazine: How did SIFF come to existence?
Bede Cheng: We’ve been doing this for the last seven years. Every year for the Hong Kong International Film Festival, there are just so many films around, more than we can possibly show during the two-week festival period. Also, great new films always come up during other major film festivals such as Berlin and Cannes, and we have difficulties including those late additions to our program.
After a while, we came up with this idea of showing some of those films in the summer. Most film festivals are serious and heavy; you have to watch movies with subtitles or [that are] five hours long. But since summer is the time for fun and entertainment, the time when kids don’t have school and people go vacationing, we try to show more fun films. So from the films we choose to our cover art, the SIFF wants to give people a relaxed, summery vibe.
HK: What are the highlights of this year’s program?
BC: This year, we opened the program with Taiwanese movie “GF*BF,” which was also the opening film of the 2012 Taipei Film Festival. Last year, SIFF opened with [the Taiwanese film] “You Are the Apple of My Eye,” which turned out to be the biggest thing ever in Hong Kong, and personally I think this one is even better than “Apple.” The closing film is Wes Anderson’s highly-praised “Moonrise Kingdom,” which is the opening film of Cannes Film Festival this year. Japanese culture is very trendy among young people here, so we normally like to include Japanese films. And it happens this year that the amount of them is particularly large.
We’ve also prepared a retrospective section of French filmmaker Eric Rohmer. He’s a great auteur, the Woody Allen of an earlier generation. We didn’t do anything when he passed away in 2010, so we thought it’d be nice to include three of his lighthearted comedies about summer in the program. Of course, there are good European arthouse films and documentaries, too. My personal favorite from the total 27 titles is probably the Korean film “Punch.” The number of films in the SIFF is about a tenth of the HKIFF, but we do try to cover different genres and regions—we’d like to consider it a miniature version of the HKIFF.
HK: What are the difficulties you encounter in the curating process?
BC: There are many problems we share with any other film festival, such as the large number of films that we have to choose from and the film distributors that don’t reply to your requests and keep you hanging there. Another factor that people don’t normally realize is that there are other film festivals happening around the world at the same time, so we have to be very careful about timing our program to the other festivals’ schedules in order to use the same print.
Plus, summer is a special time for our festival because it’s when all the Hollywood blockbusters come out, and we have to fight very hard for screening slots. It wasn’t so much of a problem before, since we held most screenings at LCSD [governmental Leisure and Cultural Services Department] venues; but modern technology doesn’t wait—now a lot of new films and recently restored old films come in new formats like DCP [Digital Camera Package], which is becoming the current industry standard. Right now none of the LCSD venues have the equipment to show films in those formats, therefore we are forced to look for commercial cinemas, which are more keen to show “Batman” and “Total Recall” than arthouse films during summer, of course.
HK: Are there films that have been confirmed for next year’s HKIFF?
BC: Yes, yes there are! But I can’t tell you—it’s a secret.
Featuring 45 screenings of 27 films from nine countries, the festival provides filmgoers with the opportunity to enjoy a variety of cinematic offerings from across the globe. Aug 14-28. Tickets $65 each from www.urbtix.hk. For more program info, visit www.hkiff.org.hk.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
(USA, 2011) A tiny, 10-seat restaurant inside Tokyo’s Ginza subway station doesn’t sound like a place where you’d find the world’s greatest sushi. But this is precisely where three-Michelin-starred Sukiyabashi Jiro is located. People wait months in order to taste the -year-old chef’s mouthwatering morsels. And in director David Gelb’s delectable documentary, we learn all about master Jiro’s culinary art, as well as his relationship with his eldest son, who is his heir-apparent.
Aug 18, 7:30pm; Aug 20, 9:45pm, Science Museum.
(France, 1970) Part of French auteur Eric Rohmer’s “Six Moral Tales,” the film tells the story of 35-year-old man Jerome (Jean-Claude Brialy), who, on a summer vacation, meets 16-year-old Laura and subsequently develops an obsession with the beautiful knees of Claire, Laura’s teenage sister. Rohmer effortlessly juxtaposes the childish whims of the adults with the surprising maturity of the teenagers, making this tender and sensuous work an enduring masterpiece.
Aug 19, 7:30, Science Museum. Watch the trailer here.
For even more listings, check out our "Picks of the Summer Film Festival" article.