Selections from the world’s most famous independent film festival will be coming to the city this month, for Sundance Film Festival: Hong Kong. Sundance was first held in 1978 in the US state of Utah, with the goal of showcasing American-made films, and demonstrating the potential of indie cinema. The focus is no longer on only American films; and the festival, which includes competitive sections, still champions independent movies. Being included at Sundance, or winning a prize there, is seen as highly desirable.
This year marks the fifth edition of the Hong Kong festival, and will feature a line-up of 12 films covering a diverse range of genres and issues.
From hilarious comedies to gripping documentaries, here’s our pick of the top five films to catch.
If you haven’t yet seen Crazy Rich Asians, we can only assume you’ve been on a silent retreat, with no access to social media or civilisation and just aren’t aware it’s out, or that you have a heart of stone and don’t enjoy lighthearted, relatable comedies. Of course, CRA has been making waves for being the first Asian-American led movie in decades, but it’s not the only one making the rounds. Aneesh Chaganty’s Searching also focuses on an Asian-American family, and stars none other than the actor who triggered 2016’s hugely viral hashtag, #StarringJohnCho. Cho plays a single father whose daughter goes missing, and who must search through social media and an unfamiliar online landscape try to find out where – and who – she is.
YP reporter Ben Young calls this one of the most heartfelt and genuine films of the past decade. Written by and starring Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs, and fellow California-native Rafael Casal, Blindspotting follows the friendship of a black ex-con (Diggs) and his privileged white friend (Casal) in the diverse city of Oakland, and examines police violence, gentrification, and racism.
Three Identical Strangers
In a case of “you couldn’t make it up”, this documentary follows the story of triplets who were separated at birth, adopted, and reunited by chance as teens, and become media sensations.
Hearts Beat Loud
Parks and Recreation alum Nick Offerman proves he’s more than a straight-faced comedic genius as Frank, a single dad of a university-bound teen, Sam (Kiersey Clemons). Before Sam heads to college, they record a duet which ends up becoming a viral hit. But when Frank tries to persuade Sam to make their “band” a thing, they argue, and need the power of music to help them work through their differences and misunderstandings.
The Price of Free
Nobel Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi heads a team of dedicated individuals who carry out raids on factories to rescue children who have been forced into slave labour. The team risk their own safety, and are credited with liberating tens of thousands of children, while fighting for their rights. Combining footage of factory raids filmed with hidden cameras and a look at how some of the rescued youngsters recover, this promises to be an inspirational yet adrenaline-pumping view.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
When Cameron (Chloe Grace Moretz) is caught making out with another girl on prom night, she’s sent off to “gay conversion camp”, a therapy centre that treats teens “struggling with same-sex attraction”. Set in the early 90s, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a coming-of-age tale that celebrates friendship and self-acceptance, and reminds viewers, LGBT or otherwise, that however bleak they may seem, things get better.
The 2018 Sundance Film Festival: Hong Kong will be held from September 20 to October 1 at The Metroplex cinema, in Kowloon Bay.