A packed programme from the most anarchic and surprising corners of Asian cinema

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The first preview of the 2017 line-up: from the bizarre comedy – produced by Pang Ho-cheungNail Clipper Romance about a red-haired girl who lives off nail clippers through the amazing trans costumes of Die Beautiful to the splatter-horror-gore of The Sleep Curse; from 52Hz, I Love You, the Taiwanese La La Land, to the International Premiere of Love Off The Cuff and Kung Fu Yoga with Jackie Chan, a packed program from the most anarchic and surprising corners of Asian cinema.

UDINE – Expect the unexpected isn’t just the title of a (wonderful) old Hong Kong detective movie by Patrick Yau: it’s the short, perfect chemical formula which captures the essence of all – absolutely all – of Asian cinema. There are places, like those we find in fairy tales or in dreams, where anything can happen, and Asian cinema is undoubtedly one of them. The fans know that, as does the Far East Film Festival in Udine from the 21st to the 29th of April, which is about to declare its nineteenth edition open and which has never stopped exploring, experiencing and describing the unexpected.

Nearly twenty years of visions which are extreme, anarchic and unsettling whatever their genre or narrative slant: rather than being a question of technique or aesthetic, it’s a question of soul. A natural inclination (and a formidable talent) for the unexpected, in fact, and once again this year visitors will have a great deal to admire. A great deal, running the gamut from comedy to splatter, for example as well as from love story to musical. A preview of the substantial 2017 line-up which, let’s not forget, will be unveiled in full on the 13th of April.

Unexpected is certainly the right word for Nail Clipper Romance by Jason Kwan, produced by one of the FEFF’s dearest friends (and based on his own short story): we’re talking about that bad boy Pang Ho-cheung, icon of indomitable made-in-Hong Kong creativity, who will also be presenting Love Off the Cuff (third chapter in the bizarre romantic saga that began with Love in a Puff and continued with Love in the Buff) at Udine. The debut film by Jason Kwan, filmed in Hawaii and with a score by Italian composer Gabriele Roberto, stars a girl who is on a slightly unusual diet: …nail clippers! Is there anything else to say, except that Nail Clipper Romance is a romantic comedy?

Unexpected is definitely the word for the question mark that gave birth to Kung Fu Yoga by Stanley Tong (it will be released in Italy with Notorious): what happens when two completely different disciplines – two disciplines no one (let’s be honest) imagines having anything in common – are brought together? His Majesty Jackie Chan makes an appearance is what happens – the super guest of the 2015 FEFF is once again a guarantee of full-power action and comedy! We’re in the world of family-friendly popcorn movies here, of course, with the same dream team which in recent years has dominated the Asian box office (Police Story 3: Super Cop, Rumble in the Bronx) and delighted millions of viewers.

Unexpected is also definitely the right word for The Sleep Curse by Herman Yau, another old friend of the Festival, who, to the delight of his most fervent admirers, returns to his first (great) love: splatter. Or, to be precise, gore. If you think you’re ready for anything, prepare yourselves to see the glorious duo from Untold Story (1993) and Ebola Syndrome (1996) back in action: yes, the legendary Herman has brought the equally legendary Anthony Wong back to the set ! An extreme film, not recommended for the easily-shocked, which rewrites – in blood – the rules of the genre.

Unexpected is the perfect description of 52Hz, I Love You by Wei Te-sheng, which we can consider to all intents and purposes Taiwan’s answer to La La Land (or should that be the other way round?), and just as unexpected is the Philippine Die Beautiful by Jun Robles Lana: an irresistible, chaotic, multicoloured transgender comedy that is already destined to become a cult! It is the story of Trisha, played by actor Paolo Ballesteros, a beauty queen who dies suddenly during her coronation ceremony. Her last wish is to have an unforgettable wake so, to get around her ultra-right wing father, her friends steal her corpse. They will leave it on display for ten days, as per Filipino tradition, and every night it will be transformed by make up into a different celebrity, from Madonna to Shakira!

Nearly twenty years of extreme, anarchic and unsettling visions bursting from the big screen of the Far East Film Festival, we were saying, and as happens only in fairy tales or in dreams, Asian cinema continues to fill our eyes with wonder…

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