Sino-Italian co-production The Italian recipedirected by young Beijing filmmaker Hou Zuxin, will make a fitting world premiere as the opening title of this year’s Far East Film Festival, the pioneering event for Asian cinema held annually in the picturesque city of Udine, in northern Italy.
A romantic comedy described by the festival as “roman holidays with Chinese flavors”, the film stars Chinese actor Xun Liu as a spoiled pop star who travels to Italy to take part in a reality TV show, where he meets a simple young girl (played by Yao Huang) who dreams of becoming an Italian chef. During one long Roman night, a collision of personalities and personal stories turns into a heartwarming love story.
After a boom in cross-border activity for much of the past decade, co-productions between China and the West have been on the decline since the start of the pandemic, making The Italian recipe an encouraging example of continued international collaboration. The project features a mix of European and Chinese talent among its writers, producers, cast and crew.
The organizers of the Far East festival unveiled their 2022 selection on Tuesday at the grand Teatro Nuovo in Udine. Making a strong comeback after the last two editions affected by the pandemic, the festival lineup will feature a total of 72 titles from 12 Asian countries, with 42 titles included in an extensive competition section (13 world premieres, 18 international premieres, 11 European and 13 Italian premieres). As usual for Udine, Europe’s largest festival dedicated to Asian cinema, the line-up features a wide selection of commercial hits that may not have been widely seen outside of their home country (the festival Chinese Hi Mom and Nice view; from Korea Special delivery and Escape from Mogadishu; The Philippines’ Enraged), as well as dormant festival favorites (The apartment with two women From Korea; China’s exceptional drama back to dustand Japanese rock opera anime INU-OH) and carefully selected classics (a special program of films set in Manila), some of them freshly restored.
The organizers have also chosen to keep some of the innovations imposed on them by the pandemic. A selection of 28 films from the lineup will be available to stream online, with accessibility varying depending on the viewer’s home market. Fourteen of the titles in the digital selection will be available worldwide, while all will be viewable in Italy.
A significant number of directors, stars and producers of the titles in competition are expected in person in Udine this year, despite the persistent travel difficulties in certain Asian countries. As previously announced, Japanese screen icon Takeshi Kitano will be on hand to receive a lifetime achievement honor, while Hong Kong pop diva Stephy Tang will be on hand to receive a special honor.
Udine’s industrial activities are also making a strong comeback in 2022, including the FEFF Campus, a film journalism mentorship program for young writers from Asia and the West; Focus Asia seminar series; and Ties That Bind, a workshop that supports co-productions between Asia and Europe.
The 2022 Far East Film Festival runs from April 22-30.