An animated film about a dim but lovely piglet attending a martial-arts kindergarten was a surprise hit in China this summer. The piglet’s fourth witty feature, McDull Kung Fu Kindergarten (playing Friday, Sunday, and next Thursday [October 9, 11, and 15] at VIFF) earned approximately $12.5 million in mainland China in six weeks.
Shelly Kraicer, the Chinese-language Dragons & Tigers programmer at VIFF, told the Straight at the Sutton Place Hotel that compared to the last three features, this new McDull film is much more accessible for foreign audiences. Artist Alice Mak (who occasionally visits relatives here in Vancouver) created the comic-strip character 21 years ago; her husband, Brian Tse, directed the film series.
Kraicer describes Written By (on Monday [October 12]), featuring award-winning actor Lau Ching-wan (who starred in the 2001 Vancouver production Lunch With Charles), as the “most intriguing and ambitious Hong Kong film of the year”. When Kraicer chatted with director Wai Ka-fai in Hong Kong about the film’s complexity, Wai explained that the story is based on the Buddhist concept of reincarnation. Wai and Lau are unable to attend VIFF because they’re shooting director Johnnie To’s new film, Si Piu, in Hong Kong.
Earlier this year, Ann Hui won best director at the Hong Kong Film Awards for The Way We Are. Although a print of this film wasn’t available, her follow-up, Night and Fog, screens at VIFF on Monday (October 12).
Both films tell tales about the same Hong Kong suburb, Tin Shui Wai, also known as “City of Sadness” due to several tragedies that have occurred there.