Friday, June 29, 2012

Hong Kong Film Festival starts in London next week

HK15 comes to town!

Terracotta Far East Film Festival in conjunction with the Hong Kong Economic Trade Office, London will hold a new film festival in London, starting Monday 2nd July, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to China. It's a great programme of films which I am very pleased includes some classic Shaw Brothers movies:

The classic cult Gordon Liu movie with the wonderful wooden men fighting sequence. The script was co-written by legendary HK actor and loveable cheeky chappie Eric Tsang!

Showing with 36 Chambers in a double bill is the 1967 classic One Armed Swordsman. This is the connoisseur's choice - RZA from Wu Tang Clan cites this as his favourite kung fu film.

Along with these vintage goodies there are a range of contemporary films and some recent auteur picks from e.g. Johnny To.

There will also be Q&As with special guests actor Jimmy Wang Yu and producer Roger Lee and acclaimed directors Fung Chih Chiang and Jessey Tsang.

Full festival line up here:

All movies showing at the Odeon West End. Just a mere dumpling's throw from Chinatown so you can fill up on lo pak ko before the screenings.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chinese Visual Festival Podcast

Here's the podcast of last week's special edition of Lucky Cat when I was joined live in the studio by Jing Jing Xie, Candy Ma, Ming Qiang Xie (Jeremy) and Zach Dunbar (all pictured above).

A wonderful show to record, featuring live performances of Mandarin versions of songs from the musical Sweet Charity by Boulevard Productions. Music from reknowned pipa player Wang Ting is also featured.

Both Boulevard productions and Wang Ting will be performing at the Chinese Visual Festival.

Please see previous post for details. Enjoy listening!

Zoë interviewing Jing Jing Xie at Resonance FM.

The talented Candy Ma belting out Hey Big Spender, fabulous!

Ming Qiang Xie (Jeremy) and Zach Dunbar of Boulevard Productions.

Thanks to James Mudge for the photos.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sad Goodbye: Sion Sono's Himizu out in selected UK cinemas now

Himizu, the award-winning film from Japanese director Sion Sono has opened in selected cinemas across the UK. I saw this film at the Terracotta Film Festival and was transported by it's tale of the harshnesses of life and the little tendernesses that love can bring.

I have to confess to not making it all the way through director Sion Sono's 4 hr upskirt panty photo epic Love Exposure,so I was not really familiar with his work. The skill he shows as a director in Himizu did make me want to see his more recent serial killer film Cold Fish (more on that later).

Himizutells the story of two teenagers’ struggle to live in a dystopian future Japan destroyed by a natural disaster (the tsunami possibly). The 2 young lead actors give extraordinary performances coping in the turbulent, surreal and sometimes evil world which surrounds them (masochistic parents, dysfunctional relationships, violent yakuza gangsters). At times I found the relentless violence (lots of slapping and hitting) quite difficult to bear, I wondered if it was a metaphor for the way that nature has repeatedly brutalised the Japanese landscape with natural disasters. The ensemble cast are excellent too - especially Den Den (star of Cold Fish) who plays a yakuza with a penchant for garish 1980s' jumpers.
The only thing I would fault the film on is a sometimes predictable use of music to enhance the drama. Other than that it is easy to see why it won the audience award at the Terracotta Film Festival.
Go see at the cinema while you still can:

The reason this post is entitled 'Sad Goodbye' is that Third Windows have announced that Himizu will be their last theatrical release. You can read more about why that is here at Twitch Film.

TWF will continue to distribute East Asian titles on DVD and Blue Ray and indeed Sion Sonos' Cold Fish is now out on DVD and Blue Ray. This stars the charismatic Den Den as a fish shop owning psychopathic serial killer. Den Den's performance is outstanding and the film is a cringe-making, creepy, beautifully harrowing, wonderful piece of film making.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Pork Curry & Quick Pickled Veg Dinner

Rustled this up for dinner tonight.
Thai style pork curry
Step 1 make the curry paste by chopping then crushing in pestle and mortar:

  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • half small onion (finely chopped, chop the other half into thin slices and set aside for later)
  • tablespoon ground coriander
  • teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 small chillies incl. seeds
  • 2 anchovy fillets (normally I use shrimp paste but I'm worried I may have developed a shell fish allergy)
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of red chilli powder
  • tablespoon fish sauce
  • big dribble of veg oil

Step 2 slice up a nice bit of pork loin then sear it in a hot wok with oil and add a few dashes of soya sauce as cooking. Remove from wok.
Step 3 add curry paste to hot wok (no oil necessary as oil is in the paste. Turn flame to medium. Cook for a couple of mins then add a tin of coconut milk and then fill the empty tin with water and add that too. Bring to the boil.
Step 4 Rinse a decent amount of Thai sweet basil (it will shrink down in cooking). Roughly chop but set aside a few whole leaves for decoration.
Step 5 add the seared pork slices to the wok and the sweet basil. Bring to boil then set flame to simmering heat. Remember the little onion? Put the remainder of that sliced up into the curry too. Simmer for at least 20-30mins stirring occasionally.
Step 6 peel and finely slice some cucumber, carrots and mooli. Mix some rice wine vinegar, white sugar and water in a small bowl - taste to check balance. Then add the chopped veg and let it have a quick pickling whilst you wait for curry to cook.
Step 7 check curry has enough fish sauce. Serve with jasmine rice or quinoa with sesame oil, slice of lime and fresh sweet basil garnish. Have the pickles on the side.
Step 8 Chow down!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Lucky Cat Special - Radio Programme on the 2nd Chinese Visual Festival

Thursday 14th June 5.30pm on Resonance 104.4FM /
I will be broadcasting a special edition of Lucky Cat previewing the Chinese Visual Festival. This is the second festival of Chinese visual culture brought to London by China Culture Connect. I will be joined live in the Resonance FM studio by the Festival's Marketing Manager James Mudge and the show will feature a live musical performance by Boulevard Productions (pianist Dr Zachary Dunbar and actor/singer Ming Qiang (Jeremy) Xie and friends). Boulevard Productions will be performing a Mandarin version of the classic musical Sweet Charity at the Festival's Music Night on 28th June.

The Festival opens on June 22nd, the eve of the Dragon Boat Festival, at the Free Word Centre in central London and will feature the UK premiere of the film Dragon Boat by acclaimed director Cao Dan. Through the ancient Chinese sport of dragon boat racing, the film tells the story of rapid economic development in modern China and the resulting disappearance of rural traditions. Cao Dan will be at the Gala for an audience Q&A session.

The Festival runs from 22nd June to 6th July 2012 across four central London venues and is themed Run, China, Run. The theme ties in with the Olympics; hosting the 2008 Beijing Olympics has affected Chinese society and the festival looks at the ‘aftershock’ of the 2008 Beijing Olympics through a variety of Chinese films and art. The running also refers to China's race for modernisation.

The film section will feature 17 independent documentary films from China. As well as Cao Dan for Dragon Boat, other directors will be present for audience Q&A sessions, including Wang Bang for University City Savages on 27th June and Guo Xiaolou for Once Upon a Time Proletarian on 6th July.

The Chinese Visual Festival will present its first Directorial Retrospective on 30th June, Zhou Hao – The Constant Documentarian, with his two most influential films, Senior Year and Using being shown at the Birkbeck College Cinema.

The Festival also includes an art exhibition by Wu Xiaohai and a music concert by renowned Pipa musician Wang Ting.
The full programme and tickets for all events are available on the Chinese Visual Festival website:

Do tune in for a preview of the Festival on Thursday 14th June at 5.30pm on Resonance 104.4 FM with me Zoë Baxter.
The radio show will also be repeated on Resonance the day the Festival begins (7pm Friday 22nd June).