For the third year in a row, movie lovers are set to flock to Berlin for the Hong Kong Film Festival, which runs from May 21st - 31st. Organized by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Berlin (HKETO Berlin), the festival has rapidly become a popular event showcasing the very best of Eastern cinema.
Among the must-see attractions for 2014 is a chance to check out the highest grossing Hong Kong film of all-time - Infernal Affairs - lauded by no less than legendary Hollywood director Martin Scorsese.
Indeed, the Goodfellas-director loved Infernal Affairs so much he did an American remake - The Departed - which scooped four Oscars.
“Infernal Affairs is a very good example of why I love Hong Kong cinema,” Scorsese said in a 2006 interview.
Debate has long raged over which is better – the Hong Kong original or the Hollywood remake – so decide for yourself by checking out the original Infernal Affairs, which gets two screenings on May 24th and 28th. Parts two and three of the Infernal Affairs-trilogy also get two screenings during the festival.
Kicking off the movie extravaganza on the opening night (May 21st) is the award-winning drama Unbeatable, which has been wowing audiences in Asia. It tells the story of an ex-boxing champion, on the run from loan sharks, who becomes a mentor to an up-and-coming young fighter. In case you miss it first time round, Unbeatable closes the festival on May 31st.
Other films on the bill include crime thriller Blind Detective, action movie The White Storm, both of which hit screens in Hong Kong last year. Another new release worth watching is the contemporary dance drama The Way We Dance, which claimed the Audience Award at the Asia International Film Festival Fukuoka last autumn.
The movie bill is completed with two shorter films on May 27th from Hong-Kong superstar director Dante Lam, Battle of Wits from 2004 and a new release, Better Tomorrow, which feature plotlines involving the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
Hong Kong has a strong movie pedigree, releasing almost 150 films in the last three years alone, making it number one in terms of film production per capita in Asia. During the last decade, Hong Kong films have scooped more than 400 international awards.
Hollywood has also been shooting curious glances at Hong Kong, acquiring the rights to remake some of the country’s most popular films during the last decade.
The region has also become a hot-spot for international filming. In 2013 alone, no fewer than 115 overseas productions came to Hong Kong for location shooting, including the star-studded action film The Expendables 2.
Film fans will see plenty of Hong Kong in the forthcoming summer blockbuster Transformers: Age of Extinction, which stars Mark Wahlberg, with several scenes shot there.
Indeed, more and more directors are lining up to take advantage of the region’s unique cityscape and inject a dose of east-meets-west into their films. To capitalize on this interest the Film Services Office (FSO) of Create Hong Kong has established an office to spearhead the development of the region’s creative industries.
The FSO is offering a free one-stop service for film-makers who wish to shoot their new movies in the area, with major studios such as Warner Bros using local production resources in recent times.
Another attraction for film-makers is Hong Kong’s strong contacts in mainland China for filming and production purposes.
While the region is perhaps best known for producing action films that have attracted a loyal following around the world, it’s not all that Hong Kong cinema is about. Poignant dramas and powerful human-interest stories are among the genres recently tackled by the city's most talented writers and performers.
You can sample the best of Hong Kong’s diverse cinema at the 10-day Hong Kong Film Festival in Berlin which runs from May 21st - 31st. All movies will be shown in their original language with English subtitles.
Venue: Kino Arsenal, Potsdamer Straße 2, 10785 Berlin