05-15 November 2020

Festivals & Events


October 16, 2019

HIFF39 SPOTLIGHT ON HONG KONG: Past, Present & Future

HIFF is honored to partner with the Hong Kong Economic Trade Office of San Francisco (HKETO SF), to honor the past, present, and future of Hong Kong cinema, which includes honoring master action director John Woo, who will present a special 30th anniversary screening of THE KILLER.

Last year, the Festival honored Wong Kar-Wai and presented a new print of CHUNGKING EXPRESS and IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE with the director in attendance. We continue this tradition by honoring the godfather of Hong Kong action cinema: Mr. John Woo. His visionary, unique filmmaking style turned mundane action scenes into a sophisticated ballet of bullets backed with religious imagery (those white doves!), inspiring a bevy of film nerds like Quentin Tarantino (RESERVOIR DOGS), Robert Rodriguez (EL MARIACHI), and the Wachowskis (THE MATRIX). 

Mr. Woo also successfully made the rare crossover from Asia into Hollywood, putting his stamp on such cult classics like HARD TARGET, FACE/OFF and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the original release of THE KILLER, and it is a great privilege and honor to host a screening of this seminal film at HIFF with Mr. Woo in attendance to participate in an extended after-film discussion.

This year’s Spotlight also presents two new films that have gained success at major film festivals and at the box-office. Auteur and renaissance man Yonfan returns to the big screen with his first animated feature NO. 7 CHERRY LANE, an ode to a bygone era of 1960s Hong Kong. A fever dream of a love triangle between a handsome college student and tutor, his fashionista student and her middle-aged mother and entrepreneur from Taiwan, NO. 7 CHERRY LANE is vintage Yonfan (sexual, absurdist and very mischievous) depicting the rise of wealth and civic unrest with amazing animation, as if no longer constrained to the laws of the natural world. The film premiered at Venice Film Festival this year and won Best Screenplay.

Finally, we are excited to present the box-office hit THE WHITE STORM 2: DRUG LORDS, Hong Kong’s official 2019 Foreign Language Oscar entry. Sequel by name only (the first THE WHITE STORM came out in 2013), this film is an ode to the ‘Heroic Brotherhood” films of the ‘80s and ‘90s, where John Woo’s films A BETTER TOMORROW and THE KILLER were the mold. Andy Lau returns in a lead role on the hunt for rival gangster Louis Khoo (Hong Kong’s unofficial MVP for being in pretty much every film in the past few years). THE WHITE STORM 2 is so gonzo: full of action, melodrama, and a topper of a climax inside a crowded Central MTR station, proving that the spirit of Hong Kong cinema is still alive and well. 


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