Vail Film Festival’s Hong Kong Showcase brings foreign films to spotlight | VailDaily.com

Vail Film Festival’s Hong Kong Showcase brings foreign films to spotlight

HONG KONG FILM SHOWCASE

Friday, April 8

5 p.m. — “Monster Hunt” at CineBistro

Saturday, April 9

6 p.m. — “Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong” at Vail Cascade

6:45 p.m. — “Office” at CineBistro

8:30 p.m. — “Little Big Master” at Vail Cascade

Festival passes start at $59. For more information and a full festival schedule, visit http://www.vailfilmfestival.com.

The Vail Film Festival may live in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, but its aim is to show participants the world through the lenses of independent filmmakers. While the festival remains international in scope overall, year by year it offers a film showcase from one specific corner of the map. This year,the spotlight falls on Hong Kong, where the filmmaking industry is booming.

The festival has previously showcased German and Canadian films, and this will be the second year with a Hong Kong-focused showcase. Other films throughout the festival have international roots, as well, including Italy, China and Australia.

"It's always been important to us to be an international film festival and to showcase films from around the world," said festival co-founder Sean Cross. Of the country-specific exhibits, he said, "The goal is to showcase a different culture and different filmmaking style and perspective. I think, especially with everything that's going on in the world, it's important to really embrace different cultures and different worldviews. I think for us that's really the primary goal, is to broaden the festival experience for our attendees so they're getting exposed to films beyond just American indies."

AN EXPANDING FILM INDUSTRY

While Hollywood has been aware of the expanding Asian film scene, some Americans might not realize all the work that's been produced recently. There have been many collaborations between foreign and U.S.-based film companies.

"Over the last couple of years, the American film industry has noticed Hong Kong and China filmmaking. A lot of the filmmakers over there are doing a lot of great work, innovative work, and there's also been a huge rise in the box office and just audience in China," Cross said. "A lot of U.S. film companies are partnering with Chinese companies and doing co-productions, so it seems to be a great opportunity to showcase some of the work they've done there. We think it's interesting both for our audience and for our attending filmmakers."

Even among collaborations, the Hong Kong- and China-based films maintain their own unique styles.

"I think a lot of them are not as realistic, not as grounded in reality, as U.S. films, especially in the independent film world, where a lot of the U.S. films are depicting reality," Cross said. "I think with the Hong Kong and Chinese films, there's a little more fantastical (element)."

The Vail Film Festival's selection committee worked with the Hong Kong trade office in San Francisco to choose the four films of the showcase. The goal was to provide a variety of options for audiences to show the wider range of films coming out of that region. This showcase hits the genres of romantic comedy ("Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong"), animation ("Monster Hunt"), inspirational true story ("Little Big Master") and musical ("Office").

A CLOSER LOOK AT 'TOMORROW'

Leading up to the festival, we had a chance to connect with Emily Ting, the director of "Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong." Originally from Taiwan, Ting moved to the United States when she was 10 years old and attended film school at New York University. After graduation, she moved to Hong Kong for five years to work alongside her father in the family business. Her next move was to Los Angeles, where she became involved with the independent film business, leading to the creation of "Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong."

Below, Ting discusses her film and the experience of making it.

VAIL DAILY: Please describe what your film is about, in your own words.

EMILY TING: "Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong" is about a chance encounter between Ruby, a Chinese-American toy designer visiting Hong Kong for the first time, and Josh, an American expat who's been living in Hong Kong for over 10 years. Romance blooms between the two, but timing is not quite on their side. They meet by chance again a year later, when they must decide whether to succumb to bad timing or make the timing right.

VD: How has directing this film been different from your other directing experiences?

TING: I've directed shorts and documentaries before, but this is my first time directing a feature. All those experiences, including my producing gigs, were really preparations for this moment. A narrative feature is a completely different beast and a lot more daunting to take on than my other projects.

VD: What were you hoping to achieve with this film? Do you feel that you succeeded?

TING: I wanted people to leave the theater feeling as if they've just been on a really promising first date. And I want them to go home and look up flight prices to Hong Kong. Based on audience reactions so far, I think that I've succeeded. If tourism in Hong Kong spikes, I'm totally claiming responsibility.

VD: What challenges did you encounter while making this film?

TING: I think that being a first-time director is already difficult, but to make your first feature in a foreign country only makes it that much more challenging. Even though I had lived in Hong Kong before, I had never worked on a film set there. There are little ways of working that are just different from what you're used to. I had brought over some of my key crewmembers to Hong Kong. I had to make sure that they could communicate and work together with their various crew. Everyone was extremely professional, but it did take a little time to get into the groove of working together.

VD: What type of audience member would like this film?

TING: People who've been to Hong Kong before, people who love to travel, people who love romances, people who are fans of Jamie Chung and Bryan Greenberg and Asian-Americans.

VD: If you had only three words to describe this film, what would they be?

TING: Charming, delightful, romantic.