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Big Nights at HIFF Spring Showcase 2012

The Hawaii International Film Festival SPRING Showcase is in full swing! We just made our full lineup announcement and you can peruse through the entire schedule online. But, the best way to get an insider’s look into this year’s 33 film lineup is to subscribe to the official HIFF blog. In the coming weeks, HIFF staff will blog about various perspectives on the different types of films that comprise this spring’s dynamic programming.

To start off with the HIFF Spring 2012 Blog thread, I’m going to highlight our “big films,” primarily our Opening and Closing Night films and other major highlights during the Spring Showcase.

First up, is Peter Chan’s soon-to-be martial arts classic DRAGON (WU XIA). Starring perennial martial arts star Donnie Yen and Asian heartthrob Takeshi Kaneshiro, this multi-layered take on the classic wu xia genre, is surprisingly more of a detective murder mystery, in the vein of Sherlock Holmes or even TV’s HOUSE. Kaneshiro plays an eclectic detective who is on the trail of a murderous vigilante and winds up in a quaint village, where he meets meek farmer, played by Yen, who has a young family with his virtuous and beautiful wife, played by LUST, CAUTION’S Tang Wei.

Yen, of course, hides a deep dark secret as his past catches up with him, in the form of a murderous criminal clan led by kung fu cinema legend Jimmy Wang Yu. HIFF is proud to present the US premiere of this newly re-edited version overseen by Peter Chan himself!

ALWAYS is a  love story centered on ex-boxer Chul-min (So Ji-sub) and telemarketer Jung-hwa (Han Hyo-joo). He has closed his heart to the world and she remains spirited despite slowly losing her vision. Their fate intertwines when their past are revealed in their blooming relationship. One of the best examples of Korean melodrama to come out in awhile, ALWAYS is pure pop entertainment, with appealing performances from So Ji-sub and Han Hyo-joo! This is for all you Kdrama fans out there!

And we close the Spring Showcase with two award winning titles that will imbue you with the power of filmmaking, fact or fiction (with fact being the crazier of the two). 

We start Closing Night with the French feel good, humane comedy drama THE INTOUCHABLES directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano. Already a huge box-office hit in France, this award winner is the true story of two men who should never have met – a quadriplegic aristocrat (Francois Cluzet), who was injured in a paragliding accident and a young man from the projects, played by Omar Sy. Aside from garnering rave reviews and touching the hearts of millions of filmgoers, the INTOUCHABLES also has the infamous movie trivia fact of Omar Sy has the only actor to beat THE ARTIST’s Jean Dujardin for Best Actor in a major awards show (the Cesars, to be exact). 

THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES officially closes the Spring Showcase, and what a fitting way to end it too. One of the best films to come out of Sundance this year, I was simply blown away by this stranger than fiction tale that encapsulates the world recession and how it affects lives of all stratas. This amazing film is a character-driven documentary about a billionaire family and their financial challenges in the wake of the economic crisis. With epic proportions of Shakespearean tragedy, the film follows two unique characters, whose rags-to-riches success stories reveal the innate virtues and flaws of the American Dream. The film begins with the family triumphantly constructing the biggest house in America, a 90,000 sq. ft. palace. Over the next two years, their sprawling empire, fueled by the real estate bubble and cheap money, falters due to the economic crisis. Major changes in lifestyle and character ensue within the cross-cultural household of family members and domestic staff.

In our reality show saturated world (thanks, Bravo!), THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES fits in perfectly. But it goes beyond that and unlike most reality programs, there is great authenticity. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll shutter… This film is a testament of the Documentary Renaissance happening right now. Not to be missed!

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