China-Italy Co-Production ‘Italian Recipe’ to Open Udine Asian Film Festival

The Far East Film Festival in Italy’s Udine has set Chinese-Italian co-production “The Italian Recipe” as the opening title of a revived, largely in-person event.

The film, directed by Hou Zuxin, sees an unexpected series of events bring together a Chinese reality TV show contestant and a woman already resident in Italy. The collision of personalities, connections and chemistry between stars Liu Xun and Yao Huang resemble those of “Roman Holiday,” festival organizers suggest. The film has its world premier on Friday next week, launching a nine-day event that runs until April 22-30.

The 2022 selection runs to 72 titles, selected from over 400 submissions, numbers that organizers say, is proof that Asian filmmaking was not halted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “The fear, not unreasonable, given all the halted productions, dismantled sets and release dates announced and then postponed for months, that there wouldn’t be many films to choose from was swept away by the avalanche of films the FEFF received,” organizers said. “The filmmakers of the Far East felt the need to tell stories and above all to reach an audience more urgently than ever,”

The selected titles, hailing from ten Asian countries, are organized into a 42-title competition and a non-competitive section of spanning restored classics, documentaries and a best of the best section. This gives space to Asian films that have managed to get releases  during the pandemic, but which may not have been widely seen outside their home territories, including  Korean hit “Escape From Mogadishu,” animation “Inu-oh,” political thriller “On the Job: The Missing 8,” and Ho Wi-ding’s “Terrorizers.”

Organizers say that the coronavirus pandemic has had a transformative impact on the festival, such as the inclusion of a 28-title online section operates with different layers of geo-blocking and a handful that are only available at specific times and dates.

The festival also returns to its 1,200-seater Teatro Nuovo as a hub for physical screenings, with the Visionario cinema an outpost for special sections and retrospectives. Udine is also reviving its industry support activities, including FEFF Campus (a journalism school for young Asian and western talents), the Focus Asia seminar series and Ties That Bind, a workshop dedicated to co-production between Asia and Europe.

Major events include the previously announced lifetime achievement award for Kitano Takeshi (complemented by the screening of “Sonatine” and “Battle Royale”), a tribute to Hong Kong diva Stephy Tang, and a five-title “Visions Of Manila In Philippines Movies” section.

Among the standouts in the sprawling competition are: from mainland China “Hi, Mom,” “Too Cool to Kill,” and “Return to Dust”; “Caught in Time and “Schemes in Antiques” from Hong Kong; “Popran” from Japan; “Confession,” “Kingmaker,” “Hostage: Missing Celebrity,” “Miracle: Letters to the President,” and “Special Delivery,” from South Korea; and, from Taiwan, “Incantation” and the world premiere of Arvin Chen’s “Mama Boy.”

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