Hong Kong film festival to open with 'Murmur of the Hearts,' screen other Sylvia Chang films

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HONG KONG — Sylvia Chang's return to the director's chair will open the Hong Kong International Film Festival, which will screen 14 films from the veteran Taiwanese actress and director.

"Murmur of the Hearts," Chang's first directing feature after a five-year hiatus, tells the struggles and challenges of a young boxer, a painter and a tour guide living in Taipei.

The film stars Malaysian actress and Chang protege Lee Sinje, Hong Kong actress Isabella Leong and Golden Horse Award nominee Joseph Chang.

In Hong Kong to announce the film festival's lineup, Chang said she's waiting anxiously for the film's release.

"It's like giving birth to a baby, and then showing the baby to the world," she said at Thursday's news conference. "Of course we hope that you won't say the baby is ugly. Of course, it's with anticipation that we hope people like the film, or just for people to watch it, regardless if they like it or not."

Chang, 61, has been acting, producing, writing and directing for four decades. Her well-known films include Ang Lee's Oscar-nominated "Eat Drink Man Woman" and "20 30 40," which she starred in, wrote and directed.

"I think my films are different than the other mainstream films," she said about her feature opening the festival. "I hope everyone can calm their hearts and watch a drama like this. A drama that's a little different. I hope everyone will have the tenacity to see it."

The film also marks the return of Leong, last seen on screen seven years ago in her Hollywood debut, "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor." She took a break from acting and gave birth to three boys with Hong Kong businessman Richard Li.

Chang said that Leong steps into a more mature role in this film.

"This role is different from the roles she's played before. Of course, she's matured a lot. So I think everyone will see a very different side of her," the director said.

The Hong Kong festival runs from March 23 to April 6 and will show over 260 films from 56 countries.

Up-and-coming director Philip Yung helms the closing film, "Port of Call," which stars Aaron Kwok and takes a close look at two families whose lives are torn apart by a heinous crime.

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