9 Films to Watch at the Hong Kong Film Festival 2023

In this year’s Hong Kong film Festival, home is where the heart – and the camera crew – is.

The Hong Kong Film Festival UK returns on March 18th, with a focus on real lives and documentaries to focus its central theme. This year’s edition looks at movies with strong themes of homes away from home, and feature films not just from Hong Kong. While that may sound contradictory, the experiences of Hong Kongers adjusting to life elsewhere is as prescient as the theme of Hong Kongers standing up and defending their home, as the many recent protests have shown.

Here are 9 to watch this year:

  1. If We Burn (2023)
    Directors James Leong and Lynn Lee’s epic documentary sees three young men whose lives, like hundreds of thousands of others, are upturned when they take to the streets in protest, during the summer of 2019. This movement has now transformed into a broader push for greater freedoms and democracy, with anger over police brutality fuelling a cycle of violence.  Leung’s film might be butt-numblingly long at four and a half hours but … well, it’s kind of hard to defend that kind of runtime. But with so much stuff to cover, it’s no surprise. We’ll see if he can keep an audience’s attention for that time.
  2. The Grass is Greener on the Other Side (2022)
    On the contrary, the closing film comes in at roughly a quarter of opening’s length. The Grass is Greener on the Other Side is another documentary this time looking at Hong Kongers who are living in the shadow of those 2019 protests, and who migrate to the UK in wake of this. Almost in contrast to If We Burn, this movie will see the aftermath of protests and provide a fitting capstone to the festival.
  3. Ping Pong (1986)
    On a lighter note (as will the next film on the list be), Ping Pong is a British film about Hong Kongers living in the UK – specifically one: lawyer Elaine Choy, who agrees to execute the will of her uncle.
  4. Say I Do to Me (2023)
    On a completely different note is something a bit more upbeat: romantic comedy Say I do To Me looks at romance through the lenses of social media through the story of an influencer who seeks to marry herself.
  5. Twilight’s Kiss (2019)
    Looking inward at a different definition of home twilight’s Kiss is a romantic drama about Pak, an elderly taxi driver and Hoi, a retired father. Despite the families they’ve built, they discover feelings for each other, and begin contemplating a life together.
  6. Keep Rolling (2020)
    A documentary biopic on the life of legendary filmmaker Ann Hui, Keep Rollign puts her front and centre in front of the camera. Director Man Lim-chung showcases a side of Hui that we might have never seen in person, but we’ve grown to love through her films.
  7. Flowing Stories (2014)
    Moving back onto the topic of moving away, Flowing Stories tells of the Ho Chung village and the residents who left for Europe to find work. One matriarch in particular, whose relatives live all over the continent, contemplates the changes in the village as it moves from tradition to modernity.
  8. Blue Island (2022)
    With China’s grasp on Hong Kong firmer than ever, cultural identity has become a difficult topic amongst the country’s people. Blue Island, by director Chan Tze-woon looks at how this has affected, and even increased depression amongst Hong Kongers.
  9. Lost Course (2019)
    A documentary that looks at the cycle from protesting corrupt officials to holding elections, to becoming taken by the same corruption you fought against. Director Jill explores the complexities of political power in a small grassroots village.

The festival runs from March 18th through to the 31st, and will be playing in venues across London, Bristol, Manchester, Nottingham, Birmingham, Cardiff and Edinburgh

You can buy tickets here


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s