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What happens in Udine - pics and notes from FEFF12

It’s been nearly a month since I attended the 12th Udine Far East Film Festival, but I have yet to post more than one or two photos detailing the trip. In past years, I’ve usually written quickly about the experience, but this year? It didn’t happen. Besides a podcast I did over at Paul Fox and Kevin Ma’s KongCast, all I did was put up one photo of LGM and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here’s a photo of me taking that photo:

Me taking photo
That’s GALLANTS co-director Clement Cheng in the background,
wondering why I’m interrupting an interview to take toy photos.

Obviously, I act in a completely professional manner while I’m over there.

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to finally get this post up. It could be me splitting my time between the site, Twitter and other commitments, but it may also be because this year felt oddly special and it took me a couple of weeks to process it. I will not discuss why I consider it special because doing so would be oversharing. And even though the Internet is all about oversharing (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare — I’m looking at you), I’ll do my best to remain solidly impersonal. That’s why I’m putting up a photo like this:

The gang
Nobody enjoys Udine more than Anpanman, LGM and Pero Pero

Quick photos and text highlights follow. I’m going to attempt to do this all in one entry, so beware. If you don’t make it to the end, I won’t blame you.

So, this is the Teatro Nuovo, the converted opera house where most of the screenings take place:

Teatro Nuovo
I walked this path about 284 times over the entire fest

The exterior may not be as sumptuously decorated as it has been in previous years, but that’s not such a big deal. After all, it’s all about the movies.

Guests this year included Pang Ho-Cheung, attending for the world premiere of DREAM HOME, plus legendary Hong Kong filmmaker Patrick Lung Kong, who received a well-deserved retrospective.

Pang and Lung Kong
Pang Ho-Cheung and Patrick Lung Kong

Pang and Lung actually share some similarities in that both are very concerned with Hong Kong social issues, overtly addressing them via a variety of different genres. The DREAM HOME screening featured the uncut version of the film, and is infamous in that someone actually fainted in the audience. It was not me.

Of Lung Kong’s films, I most enjoyed THE WINDOW and TEDDY GIRLS, though a large part of that has something to do with star Josephine Siao.

Window
Patrick Lung Kong, Josephine Siao and Yeung Yip-Wang in THE WINDOW

In watching STORY OF A DISCHARGED PRISONER, which is well-known as the inspiration for John Woo’s A BETTER TOMORROW, it’s surprising that the emphasis seems to be not on brotherhood or honor, but on a real social issue: the difficult life of an ex-con. It’s a different, but no less valuable film than Woo’s famous heroic bloodshed actioner, and it’s quite sad that there isn’t a better version available on video than a lackluster unsubtitled VCD.

Story of a Discharged Prisoner
Someone put this film on DVD.
Blu-ray would be better but I shan’t be demanding.

Also in attendance were the directors of GALLANTS, Derek Kwok and Clement Cheng:

Gallants Screening
“Our movie is awesome despite what LoveHKFilm.com says.”

I already saw the film at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, so this was my second go-around at GALLANTS. On June 3rd, I’ll likely take in the film a third time at the proper local venue, the Dynasty. Currently the film is getting a good promotional push courtesy of Focus Films so I hope it manages some local box office. If it can’t do it, then I blame the moviegoing public, who blew their wad at IP MAN 2.

Director Jang Hun showed up to present his blockbuster SECRET REUNION:

Jang Hun
“Don’t listen to LoveHKFilm when they review my film.
They know nothing about Korean movies.”

The film is an effective commercial thriller with dynamite action and star performances — and that’s pretty much why 80% of us go to the movies. Talking to Mr. Jang at our 11am interview was also very nice. Too bad I was hungover at the time.

Udine also means filmmaker panels, so here are some pictures from those. Here’s Patrick Lung Kong with Sam Ho, programmer at the Hong Kong Film Archive:

Sam Ho and Patrick Lung Kong
“Hey you, are you sleeping in my panel?
Wake up if you know what’s good for you!”

Korean film programmer Darcy Paquet, webmaster of koreanfilm.org, and Lee Yong-Ju, director of THE POSSESSED:

Darcy and Lee Yong Ju
“What is that guy shouting about over there?”

Teddy Chen, director of a little film called BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS, alongside Festival Senior Manager Chiu-Yee Cheung and Hong Kong programmer Tim Youngs:

Teddy Chui-Yee Tim
“I’m telling you, I’ve never met Andrew Lau. Who is he, exactly?”

Derek Kwok and Chapman To, attending along with his new film LA COMEDIE HUMAINE:

Derek and Chapman
“I really don’t want to sit next to this guy.”

Chapman To spoke English during his entire panel, and he said one thing that I found especially moving. When asked why he sticks with Hong Kong movies despite the industry’s shifting fortunes and well-documented difficulties, To said, “Hong Kong movies have given me many things. So I have to do it.”

I won’t go into why his words affected me so much, but my respect for Chapman To grew exponentially after he said that. The second most important thing he revealed at the fest was his alternate title for BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS. He calls it FIGHTING AND CRYING.

Chapman To
“I kick so much ass.”

Besides films and filmmakers, Udine is all about food. At least, it is to me. Some samples:

Anpan Veal
I didn’t eat Anpanman

T2 plus characters
The stone is a potato. The sauce is cheese.
Arnold is Derek Kwok’s. Everything else is mine.

Toys Dessert
They all want some of the gelato

Even the simple food is awesome. This is half a ham sandwich, given to me by Teddy Chen. Little did I know that when I went to Udine this year, the director of DOWNTOWN TORPEDOES would give me a ham sandwich. Life is full of surprises.

Sandwich
Mmmm…ham

No trip to Udine is complete without a couple photos of me and the guests:

Me and Teddy Chen:

Kozo and Teddy
“Pay me back for the sandwich, kid.”

Me and Chapman To:

Kozo and Chapman
“I don’t know this guy, but he seems to know who I am.”

Me and Clement Cheng:

Kozo and Clement
Our opinions differ on FUTURE X-COPS

I don’t have a similar photo with me and Derek Kwok, but here’s a photo featuring the two of us:

Me and Derek
Clearly, we are the best of pals

The above photo was taken on an afternoon sightseeing tour right near Udine. Yep, besides movies, food, and meeting filmmakers, a person can also do some great sightseeing at the Udine Far East Film Festival. No Venice this year for me, but that’s okay. I did my laundry instead.

Some photos from that afternoon:

River
The view from my Hong Kong apartment is startlingly similar

LGM
Some of my nightmares end this way

Anpanman
That’s one happy piece of bread

One side product of bringing Anpanman to Italy is it allows me to introduce the super-righteous red bean bread man to international audiences. Really, only 2-4 people in Italy seem to know who Anpanman is, which is shocking. Why hasn’t everyone overseas heard of him? Maybe it’s because he saves kids and animals by allowing them to eat his head. After hearing the story, Gabriele Roberto, composer of DREAM HOME and MEMORIES OF MATSUKO, revealed that he has a deep-seated fear of Anpanman. Thankfully, they made up for this photo:

Gabriele Roberto and Anpanman
Afterwards, Gabriele tortured Anpanman
by drowning him in a glass of water

One potential guest who couldn’t make the trip to Udine was JJ Jia, co-star of GALLANTS. Luckily, Clement Cheng and Derek Kwok brought a picture of her so that it would appear that she came along for the trip:

Clement and JJ
Probably the closest I’ll ever be to JJ Jia

JJ Jia aside, meeting people is always a great part of FEFF. Sure, you only see them for 8-9 days out of a whole year, but at least you can walk away with lots of good memories, not to mention new friends on your Facebook account. This photo includes some of the many wonderful people I met this year:

Udine Friends
It’s a still from UDINE FRIENDS,
starring Derek Kwok as mildly disinterested smoking guy

Finally, here’s a photo featuring Derek Kwok, Teddy Chen, Clement Cheng, Chapman To and Lee Yong-Ju:

Filmmakers 1
A classy photo

Unfortunately, Chapman To had something to do so he got up:

Filmmakers 2
“Got some business to attend to.”

Um…well, maybe it’s not such a classy photo:

Filmmakers 3
Alcohol must have been involved

Aaaaaaandd that’s it for another fine year at the Udine Far East Film Festival. Other attendee mileage may vary, but I can never complain about my experience there. I enjoy myself immensely in Udine and cherish the fact that the staff and guests can put up with my widely-reported lousy personality. Actually, as I’ve probably said many, many times before, I am blessed to be able to go to the FEFF on a nearly yearly basis, and it’s one of the things I’m most thankful for when I think of what LoveHKFilm has given me.

As usual, I encourage everyone else to go to the Far East Film Festival, no matter their age, gender or religious beliefs. Udine is a place where people really love Asian Cinema, and simply attending to talk to everyone is worth the price of admission. As I like to say, it’s never too early to become a fan of Asian Cinema.

To illustrate, here’s a photo I took in the lobby of the Teatro Nuovo:

Baby
“Yeahhhhh!!!!! DREAM HOME rocked!”

This baby is now a fan of FEFF for life.

I hope to see everyone next year! Especially the baby.

13 Responses to “What happens in Udine - pics and notes from FEFF12”

  1. Glenn Says:

    I could make some joke about you schmoozing with celebs but I won’t. I really enjoyed this post and your genuine love of Hong Kong cinema is apparent. Eight years of work on this site has brought you to a good place. You give fanboys a good name!

  2. Helena Says:

    The FEFF sounds great, maybe I’ll go one year. And Udine is a lovely little town (I’ve been there briefly) - no wonder you keep going back. Welcome back, don’t leave it so long til your next post, if I may make so bold. And then there’s all the stuff you left great big hints about but don’t want to share. Whatever it is, I hope it’s making you very happy.

  3. AlHaru Says:

    Good stuff Ross. An awesome journal it is. Looks like you had a good time with the guest speakers and everybody around. I must be stupid but what’s up with Terminator anyway? You must be a big fan of T2 or something LOL

  4. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    Glenn, what’s your joke about schmoozing with celebs? If it has something to do with my oft-expressed lack of desire to meet them — well, at FEFF if you avoid celebs then it’s called being impolite.

    Helena, Udine is lovely isn’t it? About the stuff I hinted at — maybe it’s backwards and all that special stuff isn’t happy and has really made me a sad, sobbing wreck. Either way, I’d much rather talk about celebrity scandals or lousy movies than myself on this blog. It helps traffic, too.

    AlHaru, the T2 action figure belongs to Derek Kwok. He brought it from Hong Kong for his own photos. I have very little luggage space, so I only bring mini toys like Anpanman, LGM and little white dogs. I suppose I could bring more manly toys, but then everyone would know that I’m just fronting.

  5. Rummy Dummy Says:

    Thanks for explaining Anpanman. I admit I feel somewhat foolish because I don’t get many of the injokes, especially in captions, but that gelato picture was priceless.

    I do however understand non sequiturs.

  6. QQ Says:

    I would like to save up for a trip to Udine next year - if only to find out if its the location for Yesterday Once More (haha…I know there are easier ways like Google) and take pics. Can you post what time the fest is? Doesn’t seem easy to get there from Chicago?

  7. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    Hi QQ, they did shoot YESTERDAY ONCE MORE in Udine. I should probably take some comparison photos myself, but I haven’t seen the film since 2004, and don’t exactly remember where they were. I’m sure I walked by the actual film location about 20 times.

    The fest is usually in late April. If somehow you do find yourself going, let me know. Who knows, we might meet there!

  8. QQ Says:

    That would be awesome! Just need to save some money and hope my boss will let me take vacation.

  9. KVDT Says:

    Hi Kozo, you mention in your post you interviewed Clement Cheng - do you put your interviews online somewhere? Looking forward to GALLANTS!

  10. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    Hi KVDT, I conducted an interview with both Derek Kwok and Clement Cheng, but it ran a bit long and now I’m trying to figure out how to condense it into an article that isn’t novel length. My target date for getting it out there is probably sometime around the DVD release. If we’re lucky.

  11. V Says:

    Kozo, when will you be back? We miss you! :)

  12. anotherlonelyday Says:

    i just watched ip man 2 on dvd (the real deal of course) and actually enjoyed it but kept thinking ‘why did lovehkfilm slate it so bad?’.

    i think i’ve found the reason to why i brushed aside all the one dimensional characters, nationalism, overacting, straight forward plots so easily etc etc. it’s because i’ve seen all this sh|t before in hong kong film anyways. so upon reading a snippet of the review, i had prepared myself for the bad parts and subconsciously turned my brain to mush when they appeared, which then made the film better than it probably is.

    this form of self denial is because i love hong kong cinema.

  13. anotherlonelyday Says:

    oh one more comment.

    i think the screenplay and yip’s directing, whilst as mentioned in the review is blatant in its crass commercialism, deserves maybe a bit of underrated credit.

    the pacing is tight, the emotions are cloying but effective and overall as a film, it works if you’re willing to forgive the foreign-white-devils.

    yip has been slaughtered for michael baying it but i don’t know, he still retains a bit of craft to these films.

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