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February
Brilliant Modern Cinematography Features in Canadian Film Festival

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The Canadian Film Festival is back with a vengeance. To mark the 75th anniversary of the Consulate General of Canada in Hong Kong, nine internationally acclaimed productions with wide-ranging themes from the thrilling, the magic to the comic and the romantic have been selected for the Festival held from March 20 to 30 at the Hong Kong City Hall Theatre, the Hong Kong Space Museum Lecture Hall and the Hong Kong Film Archive Cinema.

Jointly presented by the Film Programmes Office of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Consulate General of Canada in Hong Kong, "Canadian Film Festival 2003" will showcase samples of cinematic development of the dynamic and growing Canadian film community. The excellent films include "Atanarjuat the Fast Runner", a pioneering work that breaks new ground in the history of cinema, Director Atom Egoyan's latest work "Ararat", fun for the family "Alice Tremblay's Odyssey" and "The Mysterious Miss C." as well as "Khaled" and "The Left Side of the Fridge", both of which are works of new-wave spirit.

The opening film "Atanarjuat the Fast Runner"(2001) is the first feature-length drama written, produced, directed and acted entirely by Inuits (Eskimos). Wielding a digital video camera in the snowy expanse and Arctic light, director Zacharias Kunuk unveils, by way of a vendetta and a wife-snatching incident, a 4,000-year legend of betrayal and revenge, class and gender, and power struggle. The film won the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival 2001 and also the Best Canadian Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival in the same year.

Fans of Atom Egoyan are familiar with his works as his "The Sweet Hereafter", "Exotica" and "Felicia's Journey" were shown and well received in pervious Hong Kong International Film Festivals. In the epic tragedy etched in poetic images "Ararat"(2002), Egoyan has drawn upon his Armenian heritage to reflect on the ways the past interconnects with the present. Reconstructing the harrowing puzzle from his mother's wounds, Egoyan brings the pain of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 inflicted by the Turks of the Ottoman Empire onto the silver screen.

Chosen as the Most Popular Canadian Film at the Vancouver International Film Festival 2001, "Obachan's Garden"(2001) is an unusual autobiographical journey of a 103-year-old grandmother who left Hiroshima as a "picture bride" and settled in Vancouver. Through yellowed pictures, family members remember grandmother dancing in a colourful garden. Yet underneath those benign days lie memories of the Hiroshima bombing and the suffering of World War II.

Not to be missed are the fun family films "Alice Tremblay's Odyssey"(2002) and the "Mysterious C."(2002). The former is a single mother's fantasia with sexy Snow White, the wolf Internet-savvy, not-so-innocent Cinderella and a debauched punk, Prince William. The film hilariously fulfils the female dream of becoming a princess at least once in a lifetime. In "The Mysterious Miss C.", the substitute teacher Miss C acts against the respectful image of a teacher. Hair disheveled and wearing shoes sans socks, she sleeps when the principal is lecturing, yet she is a loving soul who turns the library into a fantastical haven to interest her students in reading.

Independent work "Khaled"(2001) portrays how a 10-year old boy attempts to carry on his daily life when his mother suddenly dies. The film is considered as a modern rendition of Francois Truffaut's "The 400 Blows" and a youthful version of Lars von Trier's "Dancer in the Dark". There are blood and tears in every shot. It won the FIPRESCI International Critics' Award (Special Mention) at the Toronto International Film Festival 2001 and the Best Director at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2002.

Cinephiles can have a glimpse of the modern city life of Canada in the mock-documentary, "The Left Side of the Fridge"(2000) which covers several months of an individual life, showing how men try to find joy in difficult situations. With neither a plot nor fixed actors, the independent work is an interesting examination of traditional documentary style. The film was awarded the Best Canadian First Feature Award at the Toronto International Film Festival 2000.

"Soft Shell Man"(2001) is another highlight which received seven prizes at the Jutra Awards 2001 including best feature, best director, best original screenplay, best cinematography, best music, best editing and best supporting actor. An undersea photographer suffers cerebral damage after a serious accident. He attempts to rebuild his life instead it leads to serious repercussions. It is not until the very end that one knows whether the accident is in fact a curse or a blessing. The film is unique in its visuals, the striking images as well as the airtight structure.

In the environmental documentary "Memories of Earth"(2002), the production crew went back to the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii) where a legend about the creation of the earth perpetuates. Out of the vivid animation by Frederick Back, stunning footage of the unspoiled landscape and captivating accompaniment by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the legend is reborn.

All films at the "Canadian Film Festival 2003" are in English or provided with English subtitles. The opening film "Atanarjuat the Fast Runner", "Ararat", "Khaled" and "The Mysterious Miss C." will have Chinese subtitles.

Tickets priced at $40 are now available at all URBTIX outlets. Half-price concessionary tickets are available for senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients. A 10 percent discount will be offered for each purchase of six to 10 tickets and 20 percent discount for 11 tickets or more.

Enquiries can be made at 2734 2900 or browsing the website at www.lcsd.gov.hk/fp. Reservations can be made at 2734 9009 and internet booking at www.urbtix.gov.hk.

End/Thursday, February 27, 2003

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