Hong Kong film ‘Sparrow’ opens Osian’s film fest

July 12th, 2008 - 5:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 12 (IANS) Hong Kong film “Sparrow”, a comic caper about four pickpockets, has surpassed the strict censorship norms of the Chinese film industry, said the director and producer Johny To. “Sparrow”, the opening film of the ongoing 10th Osian’s-Cinefan Film Festival, received a warm response from the audience Saturday. The film fest kicked off Friday evening.

“When I was making ‘Sparrow’, I knew this film wouldn’t have a place in China. But now strangely, we were told that it will open in China,” To said while addressing a press conference at the Siri Fort auditorium here. He got delayed for the meet due to Delhi’s traffic.

Since To was speaking in his native language, an English translator was present.

As the director explained, the film has been named “Sparrow” for two reasons - “The term ‘Sparrow’ is used for pickpockets in Hong Kong, and secondly, it relates to a woman in the film who seeks freedom just like a bird (sparrow) in a cage,” he explained.

Asked why he felt the film wouldn’t have been allowed in China, To explained: “They have strict censorship norms. First, they want a complete script which requires their approval. Then one has to submit it for censorship only after which a film can be released.”

He has directed popular comedies like “Justice! My Foot”, “Needing You…” and serious ones like “The Mission” and “Running Out Of Time”.

To says he can’t be bound by scripts. “I like absolute freedom in my work. I keep coming up with new ideas all the time. I am somebody who doesn’t like to write a script. But even when I sent my film for censorship, they asked me why at the end of my film, the four pickpockets were not punished,” he quipped.

The film ends with the four being let free and are shown having fun together on a bicycle together.

To says he has observed a major change in Hong Kong cinema since the past 10 years. “For me the biggest and most encouraging side of the development in Hong Kong cinema has been that 10 years ago, a lot of commercial films and local comedies were made which has changed now. People used to keep repeating the tried and tested formulas.

“Today, filmmakers there are trying to do more individual and experimental films. There are more personal films in the market and that, as I feel, is incredible,” To told IANS.

The internationally known filmmaker expressed his happiness about being in India to attend the 11-day film fest. “This is my first visit to India and no matter how hard I tried I never got a chance to be here before. The Indian film industry is very productive and stable and I wish Indian cinema had a way to reach out to an audience outside India,” he said.

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