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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hong Kong International Film Festival 2008 Opening Ceremony

My second day in Hong Kong began just as uneventfully as the one before. Attempting to get more information from the Film Festival Hospitality Center (it's one of the hotel rooms), I was shocked that it's closed.

Not knowing what to do, I took another walk back to Causeway Bay, and ended up at another traditional Hong Kong restaurant for brunch.

The place I had my brunch

This time, I have the famous roast goose (+ roast pork) rice.

Roasted Goose and Roasted Pork Rice

It's delicious, though the portion's pretty damned big. Have to also say that no other place has milk tea as good as Hong Kong's!

Now, before I let this whole blog post degenerate into another one of those generic pretty girl blogs with patterns that alternate between photos of food they eat, photos of them clubbing, photos of stuff they bought and photos of them camwhoring, I'll shift back to what I'm really here for, the Hong Kong International Film Fest.

The hospitality center opened at 3pm, and I was shocked to find out from them that while the festival wasn't having its opening until today, the Filmart (Hong Kong International Film & TV Market) of the Hong Kong - Asia Film Financing Forum HAD already started the day before. Immediately I took a cab to the HK Convention and Exhibition Center, I had feared that KURUS (known to the rest of the world as DAYS OF THE TURQUOISE SKY, but I'll still refer to it as KURUS) had already been screened without me.

Reaching the Filmart, I was blown away by the amount of media companies that had exhibition booths there. It's really a who's who of Asian entertainment, not just films but also TV.

Then with the help of a French Chinese-lady I befriended, I realized that my fears were confirmed, KURUS was indeed screened the day before, without my presence. It was ridiculous, I seethed silently. The film screened at 2 to 4pm on Monday, WHY was I invited to the event on the very same day. Hell, I hadn't even reached my hotel on 4pm Monday.

Not wanting to let this slide past, I decided to seek the organizers, and voiced out the situation. That an industry screening of a film was held despite the absence of its producer. The girl was understanding, and immediately arranged another screening for me.

So yes, the film will screen again tomorrow. Yay. Ming Jin should thank me for that.

Anyway, thanks to my new French-Chinese lady friend, I also scored myself an invitation card to another opening film of the festival, SHALL WE KISS? A French film, and also its following cocktail party.

I went to the premiere of legendary Japanese director Yoji Yamada's new film, KABEI - OUR MOTHER. A very wonderfully made film that faltered only in the last few scenes of the film. It was a depressing film that felt genuine at first because of the dazzling performances of the cast members, especially the two young girls, but somehow, the ending felt out of place and slightly dampened the greatness of the film.

The Opening Ceremony/ Cocktail Party of the 32nd Hong Kong International Film Festival began after that. There were loads of reporters:

The press during the opening ceremony of HK International Film Fest

And they were interviewing Sammi Cheng, the ambassador of the festival.

Sammi Cheng interviewed

I had initially wanted to take a photo with her, but I saw a woman approaching Sammi and being turned away by a security guy as Sammi had requested specifically not take photos with others.

And this is a photo of director Yoji Yamada and actor Asano Tadanobu onstage to give a speech for the ceremony.

Asano Tadanobu and Yamada Yoji onstage

After that, I took a photo with with the lead actors of the Taiwanese film SOUL OF A DEMON, Tseng Yi-Che and Chen Pei-Chun.

Tseng Yi-Che, Chen Pei-Chun and I

I also approached Asano Tadanobu when the ceremony ended to shake his hand.

"Asano-san, I thought your performance in KABEI was beautiful!" I gushed.

"Thank you." He said very politely.

And we took a photo.

Asano Tadanobu and I

After that, I sneaked into the last five minutes of SHALL WE KISS? (nice ending) and then took a shuttle bus to its cocktail party.

'Shall We Kiss?' cocktail party

Crowded too.

Took a photo with Emmanuel Moiret, director and star of SHALL WE KISS?

Emmanuel Mouret and I

As I was about to leave the party, I saw Harvey Weinstein near the exit, talking to a few people. Then I turned and saw another familiar face, Terence Yin, and Hong Kong actor whose countless works I've seen and was totally awesome in the mockumentary FOUR HEAVENLY KINGS.

"Hi, I'm Edmund." I introduced myself.

"Heya, I'm Terrence." He said.

"Haha, I know who you are! Can I take a photo with you?"

We did. His friend took the photo for us.

Terence Yin and I

I chatted with him for a little while, I lamented the fact that I couldn't really enjoy events like this because I don't drink.

"That's good! You're saving yourself a lot of trouble!!" He said. "Just soldier on and don't care what others say!"

"YEAH!" I was pumped. He's such a cool guy!

Then I ran into fellow Malaysian filmmaker Chris Chong, who was seemingly seeking funding for his new feature-length film.

I left moments later, taking a cab with two people I just met at the taxi stand. One a film commissioner of the Korean Film Commission, another is the producer of famed and highly-regarded Korean director Hong Sang Soo's new film NIGHT AND DAY. I told the latter that I would attend her screening tomorrow, after KURUS is screened. I'll see whether I'll be able to make it.

And so I got back, and here I am again, at the hotel lobby, the only place with free wireless Internet access. Some lights have been switched off, but there are one or two other night owls like me, sitting in the distance, surfing the net on their laptops.