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Udine’s Far East Fest to Fete Chinese Helmer Feng Xiaogang, Open With Japan’s ‘Survival Family’

Variety logo Variety 4/13/2017 Nick Vivarelli
© Provided by Variety

ROME – Japanese director Shinobu Yagouchi’s road movie “Survival Family,” about a Japanese family’s efforts to stay alive amid a global blackout, will open the upcoming 19th edition of the Far East Festival in Udine, Italy, Europe’s biggest showcase of genre and mainstream Asian cinema. The film will be shown on April 21.

Chinese helmer Feng Xiaogang (pictured), who is known as “China’s Spielberg,” will be honored at the Udine fest, which will screen his latest film, “I Am Not Madame Bovary.”

“Survival Family,” which bowed recently at the Macao fest, is among 25 European premieres unspooling in Udine.

The festival has also secured Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau’s “Shock Wave” as its closer on April 29, shortly after the hotly anticipated actioner’s Asian release, on April 20, a clear indication of how well-integrated this event is within Asia’s film scene.

The lineup boasts four world premieres, including Chinese director Song Haolin’s school comedy “Mr. Zhu’s Summer” and Japanese indie helmer Uchida Eiji’s offbeat dark youth comedy “Love and Other Cults,” which recently had its market premiere at Hong Kong’s FilMart.

Other standout titles include Taiwanese musical “52Hz I Love You” by Wei Te-sheng; transgender Filipino comedy “Die Beautiful,” by Jun Robles Lana; Hong Kong splatter pic “The Sleep Curse” by Herman Yau; and Cambodian actioner “Jailbreak” by Italian director Jimmy Henderson.

Udine this year is stepping up efforts to become a bona fide market and conduit for genre movie co-productions between Asian and European film producers. Its curated co-production platform, Focus Asia, held April 26-28, will feature projects in early stages from 13 countries on the two continents, which will be presented to some 100 sales agents and other industry execs from companies including XYZ, Media Asia, M-Line, Showbox, Wild Bunch, Reel Suspects, and M-Appeal.

Industry heavyweights making the trek to Udine this year include James Wang (aka Wang Zhonglei), co-chief of China’s Huayi Brothers Media Corp., who will attend the Italian premiere of Feng’s “I Am Not Madame Bovary.” The hit satirical drama about China’s justice system launched last year from Toronto.

Feng and prominent Hong Kong talent Eric Tsang, the actor, director, producer and TV host who recently appeared in “Kung Fu Yoga,” also screening at the fest, will both be honored with Udine’s Golden Mulberry Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Veteran Hong Kong-based director and producer Fruit Chan, a longtime friend of the fest, is also expected for the international premiere of the restored version of his cult film “Made in Hong Kong.”

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