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Stanley Kwan
Stanley Kwan

Director Stanley Kwan will be honored as this year’s Filmmaker-in-Focus at the 45th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF45).

HKIFF45, scheduled to take place from April 1 to 12, will celebrate Kwan’s remarkable career with a retrospective of 13 of his seminal works to coincide with a commemorative book’s publication. Kwan will also attend a Face-to-Face session on April 5 to share his insights on films, art, and life with the public.

“Stanley is an auteur, and we are proud to acknowledge his unique and indelible contributions towards Hong Kong cinema,” enthused Hong Kong International Film Festival Society Executive Director Albert Lee. “He has developed a highly personal aesthetic style in his portray of the female psyche while capturing the nuanced transformation of the city and the era. Stanley has set benchmarks for LGBTQ films in Chinese-language cinema with his exploration of gender and sexuality issues.”

In a distinguished career spanning more than 40 years, Kwan has crafted numerous classics and is best known for making films with feminine sensibilities.

Kwan began his career in 1979 as assistant director for some of Hong Kong’s emerging New Wave directors, including Peter Yung, Patrick Tam, and Ann Hui. He made his directorial debut in 1985 with Women (1985), followed by Love Unto Waste (1986), and quickly anchored his status as a prominent filmmaker in his own right.

Kwan scaled the height of his creativeness in the late 1980s with some of his most renowned works. Alongside the award-winning Full Moon in New York (1989) and Red Rose White Rose (1994), Kwan produced two signature works that confirmed his place in the pantheon of Hong Kong cinema: Rouge (1987), featuring the legendary collaboration of Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung, and Center Stage (1992), with which Maggie Cheung became the first Chinese actor to win a Best Actress Award at Berlinale.

Through Yang ± Yin: Gender in Chinese Cinema (1996), a documentary commissioned by the BFI to commemorate the centenary of cinema, Still Love You After All These (1997), and Lan Yu (2001), Kwan demonstrated how Chinese-language cinema could challenge gender norms and reconstruct its own texts while revealing his own thoughts and sexuality. He began his long-time partnership with celebrated screenwriter Jimmy NGAI with Hold You Tight (1998), followed by The Island Tales (2000). These two atypical dramas capture the people’s emotional turbulence in tumultuous eras.

In the new Millennium, Kwan continues to observe and comment on Hong Kong’s dismal state through a subtle resonance in the Shanghai-set Everlasting Regret (2005). In 2018, he made a nostalgic cinematic return to his home city with First Night Nerves.

Beyond directing and producing, Kwan’s oeuvre extends to theatres, TV dramas and short films while also serving as an adjunct professor at a local university.

HKIFF45 will take a new hybrid format for the first time, featuring screenings and audience-engagement events simultaneously in-theatre and online. The festival will reveal this year’s program, including admission details for Stanley Kwan’s Face-to-Face session, on March 9.

Stanley Kwan’s Retrospective Lineup

1985 Women

1986 Love Unto Waste

1987 Rouge

1989 Full Moon in New York

1992 Center Stage (Director’s Cut)

1994 Red Rose White Rose

1996 Yang ± Yin: Gender in Chinese Cinema

1997 Still Love You After All These

1998 Hold You Tight

2000 The Island Tales

2001 Lan Yu

2005 Everlasting Regret

2018 First Night Nerves

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