2 February 2024 (Hong Kong) – The 48th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF48) will celebrate Fruit Chan as this year’s Filmmaker-in-Focus.
Chan, a pioneer of Hong Kong’s independent cinema, has established his authorship of films by exploring the ever-changing cosmopolitan territory and delving into its identity crises and political challenges. His celebrated film Made in Hong Kong stands out in this regard.
HKIFF48 will take place from 28 March to 8 April, featuring a showcase of Chan’s ten most influential works, the publication of a commemorative book, and a limited edition notebook in collaboration with long-term festival partner Moleskine. The maverick filmmaker will also participate in a Face-to-Face session to share his insights and vision with the public.
Coinciding with the Filmmaker-in-Focus announcement, HKIFFS unveiled a second key visual for HKIFF48, showcasing Tai O, the remote fishing village that served as the backdrop to Chan’s Three Husbands, the winner of the prestigious Hong Kong Film Critics Society Best Film award in 2018.
Hong Kong International Film Festival Society (HKIFFS) Executive Director Albert Lee paid tribute to Chan, saying, “The festival takes great pride in acknowledging Chan’s indelible contribution to the local cinema. By effectively capturing the essence of Hong Kong society, his stories of social outcasts struggling for survival serve as a metaphor for a perplexed city experiencing political transformations over time. With their gritty and raw style and insightful portrayal of working-class life, his films undoubtedly bear the mark of being ‘made in Hong Kong’.”
HKIFFS will reveal this year’s complete programme in early March, including details on Chan’s Face-to-Face session.
Having left his native Hainan for Hong Kong at a young age, Chan gained valuable knowledge while working at the Film Culture Centre before venturing into the film industry. He was a production assistant, assistant director, and producer for renowned figures like Terry Tong, Sammo Hung, Danny Lee, Ronny Yu, and Johnny Mak, accumulating invaluable experience. His directorial debut came with Finale in Blood, which opened doors for his independent productions.
In 1997, Chan achieved critical and popular recognition with his film Made in Hong Kong. This multiple award-winner – shot on a shoestring budget with leftover film stock – tells the story of a young gangster’s quest for relevance, serving as a rich allegory for a city grappling with an uncertain future. It became a defining work in his extensive filmography. Together with The Longest Summer and Little Cheung, it forms his Reunification Trilogy, capturing a city’s political, economic, and cultural upheavals and transitioning inhabitants.
Chan’s Prostitution Trilogy, consisting of Durian Durian, Hollywood Hong Kong and Three Husbands, further explores Hong Kong’s intricate relationship with Mainland China through the experiences of sex workers. These films offer him greater freedom for experimentation, sharpening his satire and daring style.
Chan proved himself a tireless innovator, showcasing his versatility and unrestrained skills across various genres and subjects. He remained deeply connected to Hong Kong, shooting on location and depicting local life with meticulous and affectionate detail. His shot-on-DV feature, Public Toilet, examines the human condition in an unusual and arresting manner, while his horror-drama, Dumplings, chillingly reflects the distorted psyche of modern society.
The Midnight After marks Chan’s triumphant return to prominence with an unorthodox, darkly comic apocalyptic thriller. This film is a sharply satirical allegory for Hong Kong and its displaced inhabitants. In another shift of gears, Chan ventured into documentary filmmaking with My City, a poignant portrayal of the esteemed poet and author Xi Xi. The film juxtaposes her body of work against the backdrop of the city’s ongoing transformation.
Thanks to Chan’s keen eye for talent, actors such as Sam Lee, Chui Tien-you, Wong You-nam, Qin Hailu and Jo Koo have emerged from his films and launched successful careers in the industry. As a prolific filmmaker, Chan has also become a mentor in recent years, nurturing aspiring directors by producing films like Oliver Chan’s Still Human, among others.
Fruit Chan’s Filmmaker-in-Focus series will feature the following ten films:
1997 Made in Hong Kong
1998 The Longest Summer
1999 Little Cheung
2000 Durian Durian
2001 Hollywood Hong Kong
2002 Public Toilet
2014 The Midnight After
2015 My City
2018 Three Husbands
About The Hong Kong International Film Festival
The Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) is one of Hong Kong’s most significant cultural events annually. It is Asia’s longest-running platform for filmmakers, film professionals, and filmgoers worldwide to launch new work and experience outstanding films. HKIFF introduces world cinema to local audiences to enrich and deepen the understanding of Hong Kong moviegoers. Committed to discovering new talent, HKIFF premieres the breadth of Chinese cinema and showcases Asian talent. Festival-goers can enjoy world-class films, attend seminars hosted by leading filmmakers from around the world, visit film exhibitions, participate in receptions and parties, and more. HKIFF draws extensive coverage from the local and international media and has grown in importance as one of the premier platforms for launching films in Asia.