Sino-Italian co-production the italian recipeDirected by Beijing-based young director Hou Zuxin, it will have a fitting world premiere as the opening title of this year’s Far Eastern 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 a “Roman holiday 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 young simple (played by Yao Huang) who dreams of becoming an Italian chef. Over the course of a long Roman night, a collision of personalities and personal stories transforms into a moving love story.
Following a boom in cross-border activity for much of the past decade, Chinese-Western co-productions have declined since the start of the pandemic, causing the italian recipe an encouraging example of continued international collaboration. The project features a mix of European and Chinese talent among its writers, producers, and cast and crew members.
The organizers of the Far East festival unveiled their 2022 selection on Tuesday at Udine’s grand Teatro Nuovo. Making a strong recovery from the last two pandemic-affected editions, the festival’s lineup will include a total of 72 titles from 12 Asian countries, with 42 titles included in an expanding competition section (13 world premieres, 18 international premieres, 11 European premieres and 13 Italian premieres). As usual at Udine, Europe’s largest festival dedicated to Asian cinema, the lineup features a wide selection of commercial hits that may not have been widely seen outside their home countries (China Hi Mom Y Nice view; from Korea the special delivery Y Escape from Mogadishu; The Philippines’ Rabid), as well as sleeper festival favorites (The apartment with two women from Korea; China’s Outstanding Drama return to dustand Japanese rock opera anime INU-OH) and carefully selected classics (a special program of films set in Manila), some of them newly restored.
The organizers have also chosen to retain some of the innovations forced on them by the pandemic. A selection of 28 films in 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 of them can be seen in Italy.
A sizeable number of the competing titles’ directors, stars and producers are expected to be in Udine this year, despite ongoing travel difficulties in some Asian countries. As previously announced, Japanese screen icon Takeshi Kitano will be on hand to receive a lifetime achievement honour, while Hong Kong pop diva Stephy Tang will attend to receive a special honour.
Udine’s industry activities will also return with a vengeance in 2022, including Campus FEFF, 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 Eastern Film Festival will be held from April 22 to 30.