Chinese films in focus

Chinese films in focus

More than 30 acclaimed works from around the region will premiere here at the upcoming Singapore Chinese Film Festival.

Among the highlights are A Touch Of Sin (2013) by Chinese film-maker Jia Zhangke, the crime flick that won the award for Best Screenplay at the Cannes film festival last year; the drama To My Dear Granny (2013), award-winning TV director Chu Yu-ning's film tribute to his grandmother, which was nominated for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Lin Mei-hsiu at last year's Golden Horse Awards; and Hong Kong indie hit The Way We Dance (2013), a dance flick about a hip-hop expert, which earned Golden Horse nominations for Best Action Choreography as well as Best Actress for star Cherry Ngan last year.

Most of the films in the line-up are making their Singapore premieres and unlikely to get a commercial release later.

Mr David Lee, vice-chairman of the Singapore Film Society, tells Life!: "As almost all of these films have not been picked up by any distributors here, audiences probably won't get the chance to see them on the big screen in Singapore, except during this film festival."

He says only Flora Lau's drama Bends (2013), about the friendship between a wealthy Hong Kong housewife (Carina Lau) and her China-born driver (Chen Kun), has been bought by Shaw.

Mr Lee, 34, laments the availability of Chinese-language films in Singapore. "Unless the films are major blockbusters, such as The Monkey King with Donnie Yen or the gambling movie From Vegas To Macau with Chow Yun Fat, Chinese-language films rarely get picked up for distribution here.

"I'm talking about the regular good quality Chinese-language comedies and dramas, not even the super niche or arthouse type. Singaporean audiences get the short end of the stick for these films."

That is why he feels it is so "important" to organise a festival such as this one, to "promote quality Chinese cinema in all forms and diversity to audiences in Singapore".

The event, in its second edition, is three times bigger than last year's debut festival, which screened 10 films and had an overall attendance of about 70 per cent.

To be held over 11 days from April 17 to 27 at locations across the island, including The Arts House, Cathay Cineplexes and the National Museum, the festival is jointly organised by the Singapore Film Society and UniSIM Centre for Chinese Studies.

Another film to look out for at the event is Taiwan's A Time In Quchi (2013) from director Chang Tso-chi, who won the Golden Horse Award for Best Picture for his previous movie, When Love Comes (2010).

His newer film, about a boy who spends a summer with his grandfather, earned its lead child actor Wilson Yang Liang-yu, 12, a nomination for Best New Performer at last year's Golden Horse.

The screening of two films will be especially poignant because they feature people who have died since they were made.

Malaysian director Namewee's Kara King (2013) about karaoke singers stars late Taiwanese singer Frankie Gao Ling-feng, who died in February of leukaemia.

Songs Of The Phoenix (2013), which looks at dying Chinese traditional art forms set against a developing China, is directed by late film-maker Wu Tianming (The King Of Masks, 1996), who died of a heart attack last month.

Wuxia film fans will also lap up the retrospective of works by King Hu, who died in 1997, widely credited as the godfather of the wuxia film genre.

His most notable works include A Touch Of Zen (1970) and Dragon Inn (1967), both starring iconic wuxia actor Shih Jun and which will be screened at the festival.

Shih, 78, will be in town for dialogue sessions following selected movie screenings.

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