HIFF 2016 Honorees: Cheng Pei Pei & Simon Yam



Cheng Pei Pei is one of those rare names in cinema who returns to thrill and surprise audiences again and again. Born in Shanghai in 1946, Cheng relocated to Hong Kong when she was 14. Armed with a high school education and six years of ballet training, Cheng joined the Shaw Brothers’ performing arts training course, which served as a springboard for her into a career as an actress with the famed Shaw Brothers Film Studio.

During her years at Shaw Brothers, she made over 20 movies of which most were wuxia (martial arts) films. Cool but passionate, poised but lethal, Cheng was synonymous as the “Queen of Swords” in classics such as COME DRINK WITH ME (1966), GOLDEN SWALLOW (1968), DRAGON SWAMP (1969), and THE LADY HERMIT (1971). Cheng also showed that she was not just a swashbuckler. With her dancing background, she proved to be a natural in musicals such as HONG KONG NOCTURNE (1966).

After a slight respite from moviemaking to relocate to the U.S. (where she would get married), Cheng would intermittently travel back and forth to Hong Kong for film work. Auteur Ang Lee would bring Cheng back into the limelight by casting her as the Jade Fox in the Oscar-winning CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. Cheng would transition to international films including the U.K. film LILTING (2014), where it world premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

HIFF is honored to celebrate the career of Cheng Pei Pei, our Filmmaker in Focus, as well as the work of master auteur King Hu. In partnership with the Doris Duke Theater at the Honolulu Museum of Art this program will also feature two other King Hu classics, DRAGON INN and A TOUCH OF ZEN.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the release of COME DRINK WITH ME, which we are screening at HIFF this year. Cheng Pei Pei will be at the first screening to be followed with a masterclass are co-organized by the Asian Film Awards Academy and the University of Hawaii Confucius Institute, financially supported by Create Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Film Development fund of the Hong Kong SAR Government.

Sunday, November 6 — 3:00pm (Cheng Pei Pei masterclass to follow screening)
Wednesday, November 9 — 3:30pm (encore screening)



Simon Yam is an internationally acclaimed Hong Kong actor who has starred in over 170 films in his career, including FULL CONTACT (1993), THE MISSION (1999), SPL (2005), LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER (2003), ELECTION (2005), EYE IN THE SKY (2007), SPARROW (2008), THE THIEVES (2012), BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS (2009), RIPPLES OF DESIRE (2012), THE MAN OF TAI CHI (2013), THE MIDNIGHT AFTER (2014) and THE TENANTS DOWNSTAIRS, playing at HIFF this year. Hong Kong cinema and Simon Yam go hand-in-hand, who has become a ubiquitous presence with a cool persona, and representing the heart and soul of the city island and its unique Cantonese infused culture.

Mr. Yam is this year’s HIFF honoree as part of the Hong Kong sidebar sponsored by the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office – San Francisco. We will be presenting the whimsical crime drama SPARROW, directed by Johnnie To, and starring Mr. Yam as the leader of a pickpocket gang who gets in over his head when a mystery woman enters the picture.

The film will be followed by a “Conversation with Simon Yam,” a moderated discussion with the famed actor as they discuss his career and his perspective on the current state of the Hong Kong film industry. Presented by Hong Kong Economic Trade Office, San Francisco.

Saturday, November 12 — 5:30pm