Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Connected" Wins Audience Award in Udine

The 11th annual Far East Film Festival, held in the northern Italian city of Udine, has just come to an end. The festival has an average overall attendance of around 50,000, and makes no apology for showcasing the popular cinema of East Asia - "popular" being the operative word.

Several Audience Awards were handed out at the end of the festival, and one of them went to the Hong Kong thriller, Connected (保持通话). A re-make of the 2004 US film Cellular, and directed by Benny Chan, it's not exactly high-brow festival fare. However, it was a hit at the Hong Kong box office, and ended up being the 5th biggest grossing Chinese-language film in Hong Kong last year. It stars Louis Koo (古天乐, Gǔ Tiānlè ) and Barbie Hsu (徐熙媛, Xú Xīyuàn) in the Kim Basinger role, with mainland star Liu Ye (刘烨) playing the bad guy.

Overall fourteen Chinese films were amongst the 55 films shown at the festival: seven from Hong Kong, six from the mainland and one from Taiwan. In a program that can only be described as eclectic, offering something for everyone, the films ranged from art-house (True Women for Sale) to soft porn (Forbidden Legend - Sex and Chopsticks), from box office smashes (Cape No.7, If You Are the One) to some more obscure offerings (The Story of the Closestool, Desires of the Heart).

The Festival also featured the early television works of Hong Kong director Ann Hui, including her much lauded "Vietnamese trilogy" from the late seventies, films centred on Vietnam's refugees. The festival spotlight on Hui was timely, with the veteran director recently sweeping the Best Director awards at both the Hong Kong Film Awards and Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards for The Way We Are.

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