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Johnnie To romance, short films to open HK fest

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HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong veteran Johnnie To's new romantic comedy as well as short films directed by Cannes-winning filmmakers from the Philippines and Thailand will open the 35th Hong Kong International Film Festival in March.

Organizers announced Thursday that To's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" will open the event along with "Quattro Hong Kong 2," an omnibus film comprising four shorts set in Hong Kong that was commissioned by the festival.

The shorts were directed by Thailand's Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the Philippines' Brillante Mendoza, Hong Kong's Stanley Kwan and Malaysia's Ho Yu-hang.

Apichatpong won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival last year for the drama "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives." Mendoza was named Cannes best director in 2009 for the crime thriller "Kinatay."

"Don't Go Breaking My Heart," which pairs Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan with Hong Kong heartthrob Louis Koo and Chinese-American Daniel Wu, is part of To's recent push into the mainland Chinese market. The veteran director is best known for his stylish action thrillers but is now hoping to reach a broader audience in China with light comedies.

As their contributions to "Quattro Hong Kong 2," Apichatpong shot the segment "M Hotel" in Hong Kong's Yau Ma Tei residential and shopping district and Mendoza made "Purple" _ a reference to the color of Hong Kong's official flower, the bauhinia. The Philippine filmmaker shot at Hong Kong's flower market and the outyling fishing village of Tai O, best known for its houses on stilts.

Malaysian Ho shot the comedy "Open Verdict," starring veteran Hong Kong actress Wai Ying-hung, while Kwan contributed "13 Minutes in the Lives of ...," which he said is a sentimental look at a Hong Kong bus ride.

"For a filmmaker who is spending more and more time in mainland China these past few years, coming back to Hong Kong is especially emotional. The emotions are complex," Kwan told The Associated Press.

The Hong Kong festival will also feature a retrospective of Wai's movies and a master class by Venice-winning Chinese director Jia Zhangke. Organizers will also stage the Asian premiere of "Vampire," the English debut of Japanese director Shunji Iwai starring Kevin Segers, Rachael Leigh Cook and Keisha Castle-Hughes. Iwai is a music video and TV director-turned-filmmaker who made his name with the 1995 romance "Love Letter."

The Hong Kong festival, which runs from March 20 to April 5, will feature some 300 movies from 56 countries.

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Online:

http://www.hkiff.org.hk

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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