Chilli Laugh Story

Cantonese, English and Czech subtitles
Directing: Coba Cheng
Starring: Ronal Cheng, Gigi Leung, Edan Lui, Sandra Ng
Distributor: We Distribution
Guests: Coba Cheng, Sandra Ng


Have you ever been sent into the Earth’s orbit by a transcendent chili sauce? If not, do not worry, the New Year’s comedy Chili Laugh Story will certainly make up for your missing space experience. The debuting director Coba Cheng has made an autobiographical story based on his own experience with selling The Chili Lab hot sauce. And he certainly did not sugar coat his life story and make it look like a glorifying myth!

One day amid the pandemic, young Coba realizes that his mother’s chili sauce is beyond compare and he ventures to start a business based on a family recipe. At a first glance, Chili Laugh Story respects the conventions of New Year’s comedies – it is full of puns, pranks, expressive acting, and lessons on the power of family. But just at the right moment, it crosses genre boundaries and becomes a rather spicy social satire. It is critical of insufficient government support during the pandemic, it mocks the desire to accumulate wealth, and denounces negative influence of large companies on small family businesses.

In his debut, Coba Cheng shows he has a gift to capture visually interesting moments – intergalactic chili sauce tasting is one of the film highlights – and nuanced social criticism. The future of Hong Kong comedies is in good hands! And if you are patient, you will see a brilliant cameo of a Hong Kong celebrity in the closing credits.

An Autumn’s Tale

Cantonese, English and Czech subtitles
Directing: Mabel Cheung
Starring: Chow Yun-fat, Cherie Chung, Danny Chan
Distributor: Fortune Star Media
Guest: Mabel Cheung


An Autumn’s Tale brings together three crucial elements of Hong Kong cinema. First of all, it is perhaps the most famous work of iconic author Mabel Cheung. In the film, the acclaimed filmmaker brilliantly combines the elements of a nuanced relationship drama and playful comedy genre with important social undertones. Jennifer who is visiting her boyfriend in New York City meets up with her cousin Pang. Pang becomes her guide in an unfamiliar country. In a loose narrative composed of everyday episodes Cheung lets develop their relationship, draws a critical parallel between Hong Kong and New York City and, finally, composes a love letter to a life in a free country.

An increasing number of Hong Kongers continued to settle in the United States roughly from the mid-1960s. Due to this, traffic became a major problem, but most of all, immigrants struggled with assimilation in a foreign country. This theme of An Autumn’s tale is similarly featured in Mabel Cheung’s previous film, The Illegal Immigrant (1985), and, in a way, recurs in the next, Eight Taels of Gold (1989). These films are nicknamed the “migration trilogy” and represent the second, absolutely essential genre of Hong Kong films in late 80s and early 90s.

Thirdly, in addition to Mabel Cheung’s top-notch directing or the nuanced screenplay of Alex Law, we witness all actors at the peak of their careers. The role of Vincent was one of the last performances of multi-talented Danny Chan. His strong charisma creates the perfect counterpart for the wild character of Pang – played by legendary Chow Yun-fat, a mischievous, likable and always professional actor at the top of his game. But the most prominent protagonist of An Autumn’s Tale is brilliant Cherie Chung, one of the top actresses in Hong Kong film industry during the 1980s.

In the Mood for Love

Cantonese, English and Czech subtitles
Directing: Wong Kar-wai
Starring: Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Maggie Cheung
Distributor: Block 2 Distribution


Wong Kar-wai‘s In the Mood for Love is a stylistically outstanding masterpiece – an amalgam of images, music, speed and slowness, gestures, costume designs, colours, space, platonic love and sadness, all under the veil of nostalgia. And it is not just for nostalgia that the effect of this film has only increased over time. The chance to watch a restored copy more than 20 years after the premiere is simply a “must see”.

In cooperation with three cinematographers, Wong created an epitome of romantic melodrama about a couple drawn to each other by unfortunate circumstances – their spouses are having an affair. Hong Kong stars Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung play Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow whose lives become entangled when they move to adjacent apartments on the same day (and perhaps sooner). As they later realize their partners’ infidelity, they do not want to act the same. We can see their loneliness, recurring situations, gestures, and musical themes and the mystery of their true, yet unfulfilled, love. Their love must be kept a secret from the world, even more than their spouses’ affair.

The plot takes place in 1960s Hong Kong in extremely stylized film sets and narrow streets that facilitate the concept of closeness and distance – not only between the two main protagonists. Wong clearly alludes to the political landscape in Hong Kong. The city’s transitional status means it is destined to change irreversibly. In 2046 (In the Mood for Love is followed four years later by a sequel entitled 2046), fifty years from the British handover of the island to China, everything may change fundamentally. Given the situation in Hong Kong in recent years, the melancholic song about love and finality sounds all the more powerful.

Septet: The Story of Hong Kong

Cantonese, English and Czech subtitles
Directing: Ann Hui, Sammo Hung, Ringo Lam, Patrick Tam, Johnnie To, Tsui Hark, Yuen Woo-Ping
Starring: Timmi Hung, Francis Ng, Sire Ma, Jennifer Yu
Distributor: Media Asia International Distribution Limited


Seven leading directors of Hong Kong cinema came together to each shoot a short film that pays tribute to their birthplace. In view of current affairs in Hong Kong, this anthology film feels like saying goodbye to the once glorious city. Still, the filmmakers do not explicitly deal with the present, but rather with memories and sentiments they hold towards their home city. Some of the stories are filled with personal nostalgia – Sammo Hung tells the story of a martial art master teaching young students, or Patrick Tam, a prominent figure of the Hong Kong new wave, describes a young man’s love story taking place in 1980s. By contrast, Johnnie To, who initiated and produced the entire project, creates a funny overview of economic turbulence the city went through in the past decades, and Tsui Hark pulled off an entertaining meta-cinematic vision. In addition to these directors, the anthology includes another acclaimed representative of the Hong Kong new wave, Ann Hui, a martial art films legend, Yuen Woo-Ping, and an action film master, Ringo Lam, who passed away shortly after completing his short film reflecting the tumultuous transformations of the city landscape. The contributing directors are all globally renowned and also very distinctive, so each short film features a different genre, mood, and cinematic approach. All together, they document how an ageing generation of great directors perceives the past and the present of Hong Kong and serve as a reminder of how versatile the local cinema is.

To My Nineteen-Year-Old Self

Cantonese, English and Czech subtitles
Directing: Mabel Cheung
Distributor: Golden Scene Company Limited
Guest: Mabel Cheung (Q&A after the film)


From 2011 to 2021 Mabel Cheung and her crew followed a group of six student at prestigious Ying Wa Girls’ School, proudly overlooking the harbour of Hong Kong. Throughout a decade, Cheung chronicles the girls’ academic and personal achievements, as well as failures and crises. By means of observation, she lets the audience peek into their lives and shows them searching for their own paths in difficult times. Coming of age, family relationships, the search for one’s identity and unexpected confrontations with reality are the main themes of this inspiring documentary.

On the one hand, To My Nineteen-Year-Old Self portrays six individual women trying to find out who they are. At the same time and typically for Mabel Cheung, it also implicitly comments on a decade of development taking place in the city of Hong Kong. The period from 2011 to 2021 was very turbulent for the city and even more so for Ying Wa School. In 2011 the school decided to build a new campus because the old one from the 1950s had no longer met the needs for modern education. Students are moved and spend several years in a temporary campus in Kowloon district. This creates an unexpected contrast between a prestigious school and the new neighbourhood. The girls get to know a different social and urbanistic environment and gain a unique experience. To My Nineteen-Year-Old Self is the story of six women, two campuses, and one dynamic city.


Action thriller
Cantonese, English and Czech subtitles
Directing: Cheang Pou-soi
Starring: Gordon Lam, Cya Liu, Mason Lee, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi
Distributor: Mandarin Motion Pictures Limited


Rookie police officer Will Yam (Mason Lee) and his partner, a veteran cop (Gordon Lam), are pursuing a mystery serial killer in this textbook example of a stylized neo-noir genre. The black and white Limbo shatters Yam’s illusions and proudly goes back to the times when Hong Kong cinema was dominated by films with the highest Category III rating. The director Soi Cheang is merciless and torments the audience just as much as the characters. All that to the sound of music by Kenji Kawai, the author of the soundtrack to Ghost in the Shell.

In 2019, Filmasia already introduced Cheang’ SPL II: A Time for Consequences that breaks the boundaries of straightforward action films and Limbo is similarly careless to the conventions of investigative narratives. Its elusive genre can be defined as anything from a neo-noir crime story, a harrowing thriller, a horror story or even an over-the-top exploitation. Everything is further emphasized by a highly aesthetic contrast between black and white, as well as the vision of Cheng Siu-Keung, a cinematographer who frequently collaborates with Cheang’s mentor Johnnie To. Limbo provides a unique opportunity to see a modern Hong Kong crime thriller that will get your heart racing.

The First Girl I Loved

Cantonese, English and Czech subtitles
Directing: Candy Ng, Chiu-hoi Yeung
Starring: Hedwig Tam, Renci Yeung
Distributor: Mei Ah Entertainment
Guests: Chiu-hoi Yeung, Renci Yeung (Q&A after the film)


Former classmates and perhaps lovers Nam and Yuet reunite after many years at a wedding and recall their shared past. They were very close at a catholic high school, but exactly how close is difficult for them to say. Were they best friends? Deeply in love? Or was it just infatuation? And did that feeling really stay in the past?

The First Girl I Loved does not give straight answers, but rather raises more questions. The pure and honest bond between the two girls is a reflection of general social problems and LGBTQ+ related issues. It reveals institutionalized restrictions they encounter at school defined by a dogmatic belief that love between two women is a threat to morality and could cost one of the main protagonists her scholarship. It triggers discussions with family members that prove tolerance is not the same as acceptance. This clever coming-of-age romance twists genre conventions by adding a queer theme and thanks to that may raise completely different questions. Yet the attention always remains focused on… love.

Mama’s Affair

Cantonese, English and Czech subtitles
Directing: Kearen Pang
Starring: Teresa Mo, Keung To, Jer Lau
Distributor: Emperor Motion Picture (HK) Ltd.
Guest: Kearen Pang (Q&A after the film)


Since the birth of her son, Mei-fung had led the life of a housewife. She had been forced to give up her career as a successful talent manager to take care of her family. Now, at seventeen, her son Jonathan is very independent, and Mei-fung decides to apply for a job. That’s how she meets young Fong Ching, discovers his singing voice, and wants to become his manager. The lines between her personal and professional worlds blur, and Mei-fung, her son and her protégé must face new obstacles and confront their tragic past.

Behind the film is a director from the new generation of Hong Kong filmmakers, Kearen Pang. Her film 29+1 received critical acclaim at film festivals in 2017 and has launched her career as a promising director.

The central theme of Mama’s Affair is the uncovering of the past. The film alternates chronologically told scenes with dialogs that relate to the characters’ personal histories, and through these conversations the viewer sees what motivates their seemingly incomprehensible behavior. These sequences have a completely different pace and mood and transition into scenes from the present.Mama’s Affair gently addresses the question of women’s position in society and their duties as mothers. However, the theme is developed with great sensitivity and is closely linked to the narrative and the relationship dynamics of the characters. Therefore, the story is personal and intimate in many ways.


Cantonese, English and Czech subtitles
Directing: Jun Li
Starring: Francis Ng, Tse Kwan-ho, Loletta Lee, Cecilia Choi, Chu Pak Hong
Distributor: mm2 Entertainment


After dealing with transgenderism in Tracey, young Hong Kong director Jun Li in his second film again turns to social criticism. This time he addresses homelessness and focuses on a true story from 2012 that he stumbled upon when he was studying journalism.

Upon his release from prison, a homeless man Fai comes back to the street to meet up with other men and women who have ended up without a place to stay for different reasons. One night their lives are turned upside down during street cleaning when their shelter is destroyed, and all possessions thrown in a garbage truck. With the help of a social worker Ms. Ho the group of homeless decide to sue the government for not giving them a prior notice of cleaning up the streets. Having lost their home, they also need to take care of a new one.

To describe Drifting as the story of Fai and his fight against the government would be oversimplifying and distorted. It is rather about the everyday life of socially marginalized people who happen to be involved in a lawsuit which then becomes yet another part of their routine. The film explores the world of the homeless, their values, and individual stories by depicting their daily life. Scenes of trial proceedings are only occasional.; the main protagonists are mostly captured on the streets having casual conversations that gradually let their personal stories naturally unfold and develop.

Drifting is not only about individuals, but at the same time about an entire community being in opposition to the outside world that does not care about them and refuses to treat them as real people who deserve to be treated with dignity. This outside world either stands in opposition and tries to suppress the homeless, such as the government that views them as an obstacle to a development project of luxurious skyscrapers. Or it uses them for its own needs, such as journalists who want to get a good story or students preparing absurd workshops.

New Normal

Thriller, horror
Korean, English and Czech subtitles
Directing: Jeong Beom-sik
Starring: Choi Ji-woo, Choi Minho, Pyo Ji-hoon, Lee Yoo-mi
Distributor: UNPA studio


In 2018, director Jung Bum-shik made a breakthrough in Korean horror films with his found footage success Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum. A few years later, he returns with another genre-busting Korean treat.

New Normal shows in several stories how the pandemic changed the world. How it changed us. With his latest film, director Jung Bum-shik draws attention to how isolation intensifies our loneliness in today’s world. With smartphone in hand, we have always been somewhat disconnected from our surroundings. But even everyday things – going to lunch or meeting up with friends – can be downright frightening in this film. But is that really only the case in the film?

New Normal perfectly juggles various genres, from social horror to thriller to slapstick comedy. Perhaps most impressive, however, is the ensemble cast. Fans of Korean TV drama will notice Choi Ji-woo (Winter Sonata, Twenty Again), K-pop fans will appreciate idols turned actors Choi Minho (Shinee) and Pyo Ji-hoon (P.O. from Block B). Rounding out the entire starting cast is Lee Yoo-mi, the breakout start of Squid Game.


Korean, English and Czech subtitles
Directing: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Starring: Song Kang-ho, Gang Dong-won, Bae Doona, Lee Ji-eun, Lee Joo-young
Distributor: CJ ENM


Sang-hyeon (Song Kang-ho) and Dong-soo (Gang Dong-won) steal babies from a baby box and sell them to highest bidding families. One day they meet So-young (Lee Ji-Eun), who has also abandoned her baby, and by a coincidence decides to join the two friends to see her baby’s new parents. Meanwhile, two detectives become involved and eventually, someone will die! A simple description of the plot could suggest that Broker is a crime thriller about illegal child trafficking. But that is not the case when Hirokazu Kore-eda is in charge.

The master of relationship dramas, Hirokazu Kore-eda, here yet again explores his favourite motif of a family and what it means. This nuanced drama, in the director’s typically gentle and subdued style, is full of tragicomical and touching moments, without ever resorting to superficial sentiment. Broker, only the second film after the French The Truth Kore-eda set outside of his native Japan, loses none of his typical poetics. It is semantically accurate, formally plain, and it builds on the power of the mundane. Broker is one of the most powerful films of the year!