Beautiful 2016 | Meihao Heyi 2016
Dir: Jia Zhangke, Stanley Kwan, Nakata Hideo, Alec Su | Gateway | Dragons & Tigers | Hong Kong/China | 2016 | 96 mins
Oct. 8, 8:30 pm | International Village 8
Oct 12, 4:00 pm | International Village 9
Beautiful 2016 is a curation of four short films, coming from the annual commission of prominent Asian directors by the Hong Kong International Film Festival. This year’s culmination is wonderful journey of visual storytelling taking audiences through Japan, Mainland China and Hong Kong. Despite four very distinct chapters, they share a rich exploration of the human spirit. What is wonderful about this selection is that short films are generally the format of new filmmakers. In the film industry, shorts are an emerging filmmaker’s calling card, and in not being driven by commercial aspirations, can showcase a filmmakers true creative potential. In giving this kind of creative freedom to some established filmmakers, the storytelling reveals the effectiveness of the short form to deliver a story quickly but profoundly, much in the same way fables can still deliver deep insight and compete against many (feature length) novels. Each of the stories offers a slightly different pacing and visual approach, and together are a reminder of what international film festivals are best at: taking our imaginations through a journey across geographies, cultures and languages — as well as into our inner spirit.
Surprisingly, three of the four shorts are stories of women who are confronted with some kind of disruption that forces them to confront their identity. As viewers, we share in their personal exploration of grief and resilience. The last short, is classic Asian form of storytelling, wherein a comedy about our own shortcomings and human tenacity is shrouded in the circumstances of tragedy.
This short is a surprisingly heart-warming story by one of world’s most renown directors of Japanese-horror, Nakata Hideo (director of Ring and Ring 2). The tale stars Kagawa Kyoko, a Japanese cinematic icon often associated with the golden era of Japanese cinema. Kagawa receives a letter from a first love, written and sent many years ago. Unable to journey into her past alone, a friendship grows with her caregiver, who feels bound to help Kagawa find closure. Using minimal dialogue, Nakata offers a profound commentary for the need, challenges and possibility of inter-generational connection.