Hong Kong Now. City of a thousand stories as the protagonist of the 14th Five Flavours showcase.
A fishermen's village that over the course of a century became a leading global business hub and economic powerhouse. A piece of rocky green island, densely populated by people from all over the world. A bustling port, connecting East and West. Hong Kong is a metropolis in perpetual motion, where cultures meet and human stories tangle to create an inexhaustible source of inspiration for one of the world's most remarkable cinematography.
It is impossible to leave Hong Kong without leaving a piece of heart in it. Five Flavours once again invites the audience to travel and discover this extraordinary place during the 14th edition of the festival.
Every year, the Five Flavours Asian Film Festival looks towards Fragrant Harbour in search of film discoveries, but also to follow transformation of the region, which captures, as if in a lens, the great world politics. The year 2020 turned out to be decisive for Hong Kong - the legal changes introduced by China have radically curtailed pro-democracy protests that have been going on for years with participation of a huge percentage of the population. The gradual transition of the territory to Chinese rule - which began in 1997 was supposed to take fifty years - has accelerated at a very rapid pace even before halfway through the period. Faced with inevitable systemic, economic and cultural changes, Hong Kongers are searching for their identity, defining the values around which they build their life's narratives - and cinema is an ideal space for this kind of reflection.
Among Hong Kong films made in recent years, the format of an anthology film returns surprisingly often. Its episodic structure seems to be a good tool for talking about the mosaic, multi-layered character of the city. The theme of nostalgia - a return to both landmark events and small private stories that define the character of the metropolis - also proves extremely strong. There’s a sense of sentiment for the times of the pioneers who carved out Hong Kong’s spectacular success, for the stormy winds of historical turns that attracted successive waves of migrants to the city and fuelled its unique energy. It is also a melancholy look at the golden times of Hong Kong cinema, when dozens of incomparable films were conquering the hearts of viewers all over the world.
Love for the city is strongly visible in the frames of "Septet. The Story of Hong Kong", a joint project of seven masters of Hong Kong cinema, which will open the 14th edition of Five Flavours. The idea was initiated by Johnny To, who also produced an earlier film "Trivisa", a direct tribute to the classics of local action cinema - a story of three gangsters taking place in 1997, who have to find new ways of operating in the face of the upcoming changes.
Johnnie To invited young artists to direct three interlocking novels: Frank Hui, Jevons Au, Vicky Wong created a strong, stylish, but also humorous farewell to Hong Kong gangster cinema, one of the craziest and most inspiring contemporary film genres. Once again we have the opportunity to see faces well known from other Milkyway's films, on blood-red neon streets where no one can be trusted... Today such films are no longer made.
Ray Yeung, the director of "Suk Suk" shown earlier this year at the Berlinale, also looks back on the past. The story of men who in the autumn of their lives unexpectedly begin to build a relationship, full of tenderness and mutual understanding, is at the same time an extremely moving love story and insight into the complicated biographies of the city's inhabitants. It seems that biographies of each character appearing on the screen could provide material for the book. It is at the same time a story about the changing generations, changes of customs and a nod to the classical Hong Kong melodrama. It is also hard not to notice that this might be the last moment to tell such stories openly: for Chinese censorship, which is already beginning to reach commercial productions from Hong Kong, the subject of homosexuality remains taboo.
The rhythm of the contemporary metropolis is transferred to the screen by Kate Reilly and Leung Ming-kai, the authors “Memories to Choke On, Drinks to Wash Them Down”. Three feature and one documentary stories show the multicultural face of Hong Kong: visitors from different parts of the world stop here for a while or for life, find soul mates in random encounters, savour the unique local cuisine and engage in political activity, which for many residents in recent years has become a daily bread.
It is impossible to leave Hong Kong without leaving a piece of heart in it. Five Flavours once again invites the audience to travel and discover this extraordinary place during the 14th edition of the festival. We would like to remind you about last year's festival publication, dedicated to the past three decades of Hong Kong's cinema - a publication prepared by Polish and foreign experts entitled 'Made in Hong Kong. Cinema of the Time of Change" will be an excellent accompaniment to this year's showcase.