film festival tourism

Hong Kong

The Hong Kong International Film Festival

The Hong Kong Festival offers an expansive and well-chosen program of films from around the world in an exciting, hospitable city.

Festival Website:

Timing: Two-and-a-half weeks before Easter.

Dates for 2009: March 22-April 14


The Hong Kong fest headers wisely focus on world premieres of important Asian films, filling out the rest of their international programming with some of the highlights of other fests rather than settling for premieres of third-rate fare rejected by Cannes, Berlin and other heavyweight events. One or more Chinese auteurs are always featured.

Special Guests: Asian filmmakers.

Audience: young, local.

Screening Venues

Movies are shown in eight immaculate theaters all over the city. Be forewarned that historically significant Chinese films screened at the Hong Kong film Film Archives site may not always have English subtitles.

Opening Night 2008

Opening Night 2008

Screening Schedule

Screenings begin at noon; the last shows start at 10pm.


These are inexpensive and you can order them on-line, but you’ll have to pick them up at the festival office, which can be hard to find. Alternately, you can purchase tickets at the Cultural Center box office after you arrive. Various passes are also available. Some movies sell out, especially the Asian titles.

Program Notes

A heavy program book provides full, informative notes on all films and event in both English and Cantonese.


One of the world’s most beautiful cities, Hong Kong is blessed with an unrivaled setting marked by a scenic harbor surrounded by majestic mountains. The dense forest of skyscrapers that define its skyline feature gleaming glass curtain walls, highlighted at night by thousands of twinkling colored lights. The shimmering effect of the illumination on the water is made even more magical by the fabulous light shows that take place each evening. Often talked of as a shopper’s paradise, Hong Kong also boasts a series of splendid malls featuring vast, awe-inspiring atriums in which chrome and mirrored surfaces abound. The weather at Eastertime is usually mild but overcast, and it can rain. Virtually all of the people you’ll encounter speak good English.

Hong Kong Skyline

Getting Around

Though the festival takes place all over the city, the subway system (MTR) is beautiful and extremely simple to use. In addition, taxis are cheap and plentiful.


Best hotel is the Salisbury YMCA, which is modern, comfortable and moderately priced. It’s located across the street from the cultural center, where many of the films are shown. From its vantage point at the tip of the Kowloon penninsula, the hotel’s dining room overlooks the city’s spectacular harbor. Breakfasts are good, and there is an indoor pool. 41 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. (852) 2268 7888.


How to choose among the thousands of restaurants of all kinds that blanket this city? A horde of bloggers have commented in great detail on many of them (frequently with photos of dishes they were served!). I’ll mention here just a few.

Spring Deer. Inexpensive and close to the Science Museum Theater. 42 Mody Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. (852) 2366 4012.

Maxim’s Restaurant, City Hall. Don’t let the name fool you; this place is thoroughly Chinese, part of an enormous Hong Kong-based food empire. Famous for its dim sum, the cavernous dining room is located just above the City Hall Theaters and boasts an enviable view of Hong Kong’s storied harbor. 1/F, City Hall Low Block, Hong Kong Island (852) 2521 1132

Hutong. Northern Chinese food served in a setting that evokes China as it looked in bygone days. The view of Hong Kong Harbor is tops. This is the best restaurant I have eaten at in Hong Kong, and among the best I have visited anywhere in the world. Not cheap. 1 Peking Road, Tsim Tsai Tsui. (852) 3428 8342


Dont miss Hong Kong’s spectacular light show, which takes place around the harbor from 8-8:30 each night. You can sign up for a harbor cruise to enjoy this treat or just arrange to have dinner in a restaurant with a view of the show.

Mood Movies: Films set in Hong Kong you might want to watch before you go.

  • In the Mood for Love. Many movies are set in Hong Kong, but this may be the greatest of them all. Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu Wai are the timid would-be lovers in arthouse favorite Wong Kar-Wai’s aching study of unrequited romantic longing. Originally released in 2000.

  • Sparrow. Johnnie To’s fast-moving crime thriller puts a spotlight on the “real” Hong Kong of narrow alleyways and anonymous apartment blocks.



2007 Program Book

2007 Program Book

Best Films I Saw:

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu. Romanian filmmaker’s black comedy explores the progress of an old man’s agonizingly slow demise.

Flanders. Bruno Dumont’s somber study of betrayal and redemption among the French peasantry exploits the contrasting landscapes of mucky Belgian farm country and parched North African desert to great effect.

Lights in the Dusk. Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismaki’s noir-ish fable about a hapless night watchman enlivens its bleak commentary about human isolation with flashes of deadpan humor

Jindabyne. Ray Lawrence’s resonant portrait of racial divides in his native Australia. Laura Linney and Gabriel Byrne play a troubled couple who are unexpectedly confronted with the murder of a young Aboriginal woman.

Review of the 2007 Festival:


2008 Program Book

2008 Program Book

Best Films I Saw

Mad Detective. Prolific Hong Kong stalwart Johnnie To teamed up with his screenwriter Ka-Fai Wai for this wild cop adventure yarn.

Lust, Caution. A mesmerizing study of sex, politics and power from Ang Lee, starring Tony Leung Chiu Wai and newcomer Wei Tang.

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