The Fresh Wave International Short Film Festival is often considered to be the cradle of new talent in Hong Kong’s film industry.
The latest examples would be Frank Hui, Jevons Au and Vicky Wong. The three former Fresh Wavers were appointed by veteran filmmakers Johnnie To and Yau Nai-hoi to direct Trivisa — a well-received local crime drama which has won nominations for best film and best direction during the 36th Hong Kong Film Awards.
Entering its eleventh year, the festival’s upcoming annual event will be kick-started by “Heart Attack” — a romantic drama film directed by Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit from Thailand.
The story is centered on Yoon, a 30-year-old freelance designer who ends up with rashes after working five whole consecutive days nonstop, which then leads him to an encounter with Imm, a charming public hospital doctor.
In order not to disappoint the female doctor during monthly medical meetings, Yoon does his best to follow every piece of advice from Imm even as the designer’s career is on a grand slide.
Thamrongrattanarit first made his name in the romantic comedy genre with his screenwriting debut, “Bangkok Traffic Love Story”, nine years ago.
“Heart Attack” featured only three sets and over 60 percent of it was narrated by voice-over monologues. Its success would largely depend on the tension created by the screenplay.
As for local productions, there are a few notable films based on political themes.
“Almost Home” is a story of Ah-man, a stubborn university student who has left home after a heated argument during the Umbrella Movement, and is living a simple life in the countryside as a farmer.
“Victoria and Wilhelm Tell” provides a visual interpretation of Hong Kong had there been no transfer of sovereignty in 1997.
The protagonist, Lap Yan, grew up in a politically-diverse family, of which his father is a believer of Sun Yat-sen’s The Three Principles of the People while his mother adheres to Mao’s philosophy.
Yan’s mother leaves home on July 1, 1997, thanks to fundamental differences in the family. Later, during the SARS outbreak in 2003, Yan — who is a secondary school student — is forced to stay at home and become unaware of the changes in the outside world.
“Even Ants Strive for Survival”, another film set to be showcased during the upcoming festival, is partly a political satire and a Kafkaesque nightmare for future in which every citizen is no longer recognized by name but by a set of numerical codes.
Ma Yi, a carefree person, is arrested one day for some perceived crime. He is interrogated and threatened by the police, who ask him to plead guilty, in Mandarin — which is the only official language.
Though most films come with a limited budget, quite a number of renowned artists have featured in the productions showcased in the Hong Kong festival. In “Liu Yang He”, the character of Kah-kah was played by well-known actress Rain Lau.
In the film, Kah-kah is a sex worker who had been permanently injured in an industrial accident during Cultural Revolution. When Kah-kah meets an amputated client who is played by Ko Hon-man, they feel sympathy for each other and turn this sympathy into a possibility of love.
Another notable film during the festival will be “Life on the Line”, in which Nim Cheung, who is portrayed by Joman Chiang, is a senior counselor of the Suicide Prevention Hotline and is haunted by the death of her beloved daughter who attempted suicide due to relationship troubles.
The mother falls into a dilemma as to whether she should pursue vengeance or give redemption when a suicidal young man who is responsible for her daughter’s death seeks her assistance over the hotline.
The 11th Fresh Wave International Short Film Festival will be held from March 13 to April 1. During the event, 72 local and overseas short films will be screened at Broadway Cinematheque in Yau Ma Tei and Palace IFC in Central.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 24.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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