Veteran Hong Kong actor Eric Tsang with his lifetime achievement award in Udine. Photo: FEFF
Veteran Hong Kong actor Eric Tsang with his lifetime achievement award in Udine. Photo: FEFF

Listening to …

… Hong Kong star Eric Tsang Chi-wai graciously accept his Golden Mulberry lifetime achievement award before the screening of the multi-award winning Mad World, in which he stars.

The veteran of more than 200 films across 45 years produces arguably the most nuanced performance of an illustrious career that has seen the 64-year-old explore every genre imaginable, as well as every form of entertainment in general on offer in his hometown.

Far East Film FestivalFEFF19
Eric Tsang shared his wisdom with festival-goers. Photo: FEFF

Tsang plays a struggling truck driver who takes in the bipolar son held responsible for his mother’s death in first-time director Wong Chun’s gripping and effective drama.

His performance was rewarded with another best supporting actor gong at the Hong Kong Film Awards and it comes full of humility and soul.

Eric Tsang in Mad World. Photo: FEFF

“Wow,” was the reaction of the consummate entertainer when handed the award. “It comes perhaps a little early in my career … but thank you. This might be the biggest award I’ll have in my life.” Not for the first time, Tsang was rewarded with thunderous applause.

Thinking about …

Veteran Hong Kong actor Eric Tsang receiving his Golden Mulberry award at the Far East Film Festival 2017 at Udine, Italy. Photo: FEFF
All smiles: veteran actor Eric Tsang with his Golden Mulberry. Photo: FEFF

… how Tsang took no money for the role – agreeing to take part as a favor to director Wong, who had sent his script over and asked for advice. We should also make a note that Tsang signed on despite reservations after remembering a similarly themed film had “ruined my night” once, due to its emotional nature. Tsang continues to mentor and drive generations of emerging Hong Kong filmmakers – and more.

Read: Day six of the Far East Film Festival

Earlier in the day he had given graciously of his time – alongside fellow Hongkonger Fruit Chan – in an hour-long visit to the FEFF Campus for young journalists that Asia Times supports.

Far East Film Festival Campus candidates speaking to Fruit Chan and Eric Tsang on the Hong Kong film industry and its talents. Photo: Mathew Scott
Far East Film Festival Campus candidates speak to Fruit Chan (second from right) and Eric Tsang (right) on the Hong Kong film industry and its talents. Photo: Mathew Scott

Chan spoke of how Tsang had helped get the money men – and the on- and off-screen talent – together for his seminal Made in Hong Kong (1997), the 4K version of which also screened at FEFF. Chan said there were countless other times that Tsang had chipped in. “He likes to help everyone,” said Chan.

Watching …

A still from Han Han’s Duckweed. Photo: FEFF

… the impressive and continuous rise of the multi-talented Chinese star Han Han, blogger, author, rally driver and now filmmaker. The 34-year-old’s third feature Duckweed doesn’t stray too far from the interests you expect from a young man with the world at his feet – there are lots of fast cars, and fancy ladies.

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But what impressed the audience here – and in China where the film has grossed an estimated US$151 million from a limited budget – is the smart script, that injects plenty of humor into the action along with a surprising and effective sense of sentimentality.

Not eating …

Tomb of Saint Odoric of Pordenone at Chiesa della Beata Vergine del Carmine. Photo: Mathew Scott

… but opting for a form of sustenance all the same. Man shall not live on bread alone, another Matthew once reported and with that in mind we strolled through the rain to visit the Chiesa della Beata Vergine del Carmine. The Chiesa is home to the impressive tomb of Saint Odoric of Pordenone (1286-1331). Bear with us, because there is a connection with FEFF, albeit tenuous.

Read more on the Far East Film Festival

While the festival has forged links between Europe and Asia over 19 editions, Odoric was way ahead of the curve in his time, with the history books telling us he was among the first Europeans to head East and explore China – and the second behind Marco Polo to record his travels on paper.

Photo: Mathew Scott

The Franciscan friar also took in Tibet – the first man from Europe to do so – before returning to these parts, where his story was published – and then ripped off by an English scallywag named Sir John Mandeville, who basically translated Odoric’s travelogue, and claimed the story as his own.

Video of the day:

Hong Kong actor Eric Tsang and director Fruit Chan were kind enough to speak to the aspiring journalists and writers of the Far East Film Festival Campus candidates. Then, they discussed on the challenges that the film industry in Hong Kong faces. Tsang, in particular, shared how the need for actors and actresses to take on multiple roles to survive in the entertainment industry makes them far worse in their pursuit of their craft:

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Then there’s this very lovely video of Tsang singing karaoke shared by FEFF which we just have to share with you, so that makes it two videos for today!

Photo: FEFF 2017
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