Filmmaker In Focus: Wong Kar-Wai

Across Wong Kar-wai’s IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung) wears 21 dresses, each cut as a near-identical cheongsam from a different sumptuous fabric with a high collar that reaches to the top of her neck. Su believes that her husband is having an affair, and bonds with her neighbor Chow Mo-wan (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) who shares the same suspicions about his wife, but as they grow closer must balance their desire for intimacy with their marital commitments. Set within the apartments and in-between spaces of Hong Kong amid the tumultuous 1960s, Wong’s masterpiece reflects its dresses: refined, beautiful, but heartbreakingly-restrained.

Wong Kar-wai is one of contemporary cinema’s greatest living directors. After coming to international attention in 1994 with his urban love story CHUNGKING EXPRESS, Wong won the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival for HAPPY TOGETHER, a turbulent romance between two men who leave Hong Kong to Argentina in an attempt to rekindle their relationship. In 2000, Wong returned to Cannes with IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, which received the Technical Grand Prize and Best Actor award, before going on to win Best Foreign Film at the 2001 César Awards. Widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE was voted one of the three greatest Asian films in history at the 2015 Busan Film Festival, and was listed as the second greatest film of the 21st century by a BBC poll of critics in 2016. Wong’s latest film, the martial arts epic THE GRANDMASTER, opened the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival and garnered two Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design. The film also received honors at the 33rd Hong Kong Film Awards and the 8th Asian Film Awards, which included Best Film and Best Director.

Born in Shanghai and raised in Hong Kong, Wong was named one of the Top Ten Directors of modern times by the British Film Institute in 2006 and made history as the first Chinese chair of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2007, he was knighted by the French government’s National Order of the Legion of Honor, and was awarded France’s Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2013. He was invited as the Exhibition Artistic Director for the art exhibition “China: Through the Looking Glass” held by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2015, and this year was awarded a Doctor of Arts by Harvard University.

HIFF is honored to host Wong Kar-wai and include a retrospective of some of his most significant works at this year’s festival. This year, we will screen HAPPY TOGETHER and IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, as well as a special screening of CHUNGKING EXPRESS that will include a discussion with the filmmaker.


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