The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society will kick off an exciting new year with an 18-film tribute to the Spanish surrealist maestro Luis Buñuel in Cine Fan's January/February/March programme.
Complimenting Buñuel’s uncompromising spirit in this edition are works by David Fincher, Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, and Paul Thomas Anderson – all auteurs of the MV generation, who stylishly opened up new frontiers of storytelling with audio-visual flair.
Paying homage to the flagbearer for European avant-garde, Evolving Beyond Surrealism – The Cinema of Luis Buñuel will offer cinephiles an expanded overview of the auteur’s distinctive cinema spanning his Spanish, Mexican and French periods. Since making his debut with the short film An Andalusian Dog (1929) and the feature The Golden Age (1930) – both in collaboration with the inimitable Salvador Dalí – Buñuel has never ceased to shock with his provocative ideas and startling images.
His power to subvert resulted in his films often being banned and his exile in Mexico for 20 years. Yet, it was during that difficult period that Buñuel made some of his most creative films, including Los Olvidados (1950), El (1953), Nazarin (1959), and The Exterminating Angel (1962), which opened the doors for his international co-productions.
With a belief in conscious creativity, a taste for black humour and an enduring contempt for the establishment, Buñuel staged his celebrated masterpieces renowned for their subversive dissent and dream sequences – the audacious, blasphemous Viridiana (1961) received the Palme d’Or at Cannes; and the sensual, fetishistic Belle de Jour (1967), featuring the exquisite Catherine Deneuve, the Golden Lion Best Film at Venice.
The Milky Way (1969), The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972), and The Phantom of Liberty (1974) combine to form his most distinguished trilogy that strikingly exposes the hypocrisy underneath the surface of decaying European aristocracy, reaching the pinnacle of his career. His final work, That Obscure Object of Desire (1977), brings full circle Buñuel’s lifelong preoccupation with the darker side of desire.
Emerging as a new cultural force in the 1990s, a generation of directors who honed their creative skill from experimentation of music videos (MV) moved into feature filmmaking, impressing with their distinctive and flourishing cinematic styles. A former visual effects assistant, David Fincher’s meticulous camerawork and editing become his signature in cult classics Fight Club (1999) and Zodiac (2007). Spike Jonze’s innovative acumen and irony-imbued sensibility merge with Charlie Kaufman’s original script into Being John Malkovich (1999) and Adaptation (2002). Not to be outdone, Kaufman challenged himself as a director in Synecdoche, New York (2008), a self-reflection and a way to address the harsh truths of life.
Notable for his clever use of optical tricks, Michel Gondry creates whimsical and surreal magic in Human Nature (2001), Oscar-winning Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), and The Science of Sleep (2006). Emerging from independent cinema, Paul Thomas Anderson started his exploration of narrative structure in Boogie Nights (1997) and Punch-Drunk Love (2002), achieving his grand slam of best director at Cannes, Venice and the Berlinale.
Featured in the Cinema Heritage section, Jean Renoir’s The Diary of a Chambermaid (1946) contrasts with Buñuel’s version of a surrealistic dark fable, both adapted from Octave Mirbeau’s 1900 eponymous decadent novel. The audience can also detect surrealist inspiration in the two classics under The Golden Age section: Spellbound (1945), Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological thriller, broke new ground with its exploration of the subconscious, with a lurid landscape of dreams designed by Dalí, while Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951), Albert Lewin’s romance-fantasy-tragedy, resembles an intoxicating dream, augmented by Man Ray’s surrealist paintings.
Please check out Cine Fan's official website (https://cinefan.hkiff.org.hk/en) for the complete programme and the screening schedule for the January/February/March edition. Tickets to all screenings are available from URBTIX from 15 December, and CINE FAN ONLINE passes (https://online.hkiff.com.hk/) from 3 February 2023.
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