3 February 2023 (Hong Kong) – The 47th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF47) will honour Soi Cheang as this year’s Filmmaker-in-Focus.
One of Hong Kong’s most stylish and formidable directors, Cheang joins an illustrious and growing list of recent HKIFF Filmmakers-in-Focus, including Sandra Ng, Stanley Kwan, Michael Hui, Sammo Hung and Brigitte Lin.
Returning to its traditional dates after last year’s postponement, HKIFF47 will take place from 30 March to 10 April. At the centre of this year’s cinephile extravaganza is the showcase of Cheang’s 12 seminal works, the publication of a commemorative book and, in collaboration with long-term festival partner Moleskine, the release of a limited edition notebook. Cheang will also attend a Face-to-Face session to share his insights and vision with the public.
In making the announcement, Hong Kong International Film Festival Society Executive Director Albert Lee paid tribute to Cheang and said the festival was proud to recognise his indelible contribution to Hong Kong cinema.
‘Soi is a key figure among Hong Kong’s post-1997 generation of filmmakers and notable for his sombre but unmistakably personal visual style,’ Lee said. ‘He seldom deviates from mainstream storytelling conventions but innovatively explores new boundaries of filmmaking across different genres, from horror and thriller to action films. In the stark dystopia he creates, where one confronts moral bleakness and human perseverance, Soi never fails to detect a ray of hope.’
Cheang left his native Macau and joined the Hong Kong film industry at 19, gaining invaluable experience working as a production assistant and assistant director for Ringo Lam, Andrew Lau, Joe Ma, Wilson Yip and Johnnie To. His breakthrough came in 1999 when he directed his debut film Our Last Day on digital video, presenting a grim worldview that returned thematically to his works throughout his career.
Since 2000, Cheang’s talent as a stylish filmmaker gained notice with his breakout Horror Hotline… Big Head Monster and the compelling thriller New Blood. His steady rise to prominence gathered pace with two harrowing action-romance films, Love Battlefield and Home Sweet Home, which starred Karena Lam and Shu Qi.
From strength to strength, Cheang showed versatility, migrating to urban crime thrillers, and produced his most personal and unapologetic works, Dog Bite Dog and Shamo. Surrounding his characters with corruption and filth, Cheang blurs the line between good and evil, using extreme situations to craft his frenzied tales of survival in startling beauty.
Cheang finally confirmed himself as a purveyor of edgy, extreme entertainment when he teamed up with Johnnie To’s celebrated Milkyway Image. Together they delivered Accident, an intelligent, meticulously-detailed paranoiac thriller that enthrals in both cinematic and thematic ways, and Motorway, which thrills with its abundant style and exceptional chase sequences. Both films competed at the Venice Film Festival.
Taking up the challenge from Wilson Yip’s classic actioner SPL, Cheang delivered an emotional sequel in SPL 2: A Time for Consequences that explores family ties while serving up creative, technically-ambitious action sequences. With the riveting serial killer film noir Limbo, Cheang provided a complete thematic encapsulation in stunning black-and-white, illustrating a post-apocalyptic metropolis with towering heaps of rubbish and disturbing images of human suffering. This punishingly bleak vision, which premiered in Berlinale, is perhaps Cheang’s darkest and most rewarding to date.
A prolific filmmaker, Cheang also helps nurture budding talents in recent years, serving as a producer for Lau Ho Leung’s Two Thumbs Up, Danny Wong’s i’m livin’ it, and Lau Kok-rui’s The Sunny Side of the Street, among others.
The hybrid HKIFF47 will feature screenings and audience-engagement events, both theatrically in-person and online. It will unveil this year’s programme in early March, including details on Soi Cheang’s Face-to-Face session.
Soi Cheang’s Filmmaker-in-Focus series will feature the following 12 films:
1999 Our Last Day
2000 Diamond Hill
2001 Horror Hotline… Big Head Monster
2002 New Blood
2004 Love Battlefield
2005 Home Sweet Home
2006 Dog Bite Dog
2015 SPL 2: A Time for Consequences
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