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The Rise of Johnnie To
From fanboy favorite to internationally acclaimed filmmaker 2/6 - Page 3
Author(s) : Marie Jost
Date : 28/2/2011
Type(s) : Analysis
Food for thought
 Intext Links  
People :
Johnnie To Kei Fung
Movies :
All About Ah Long
Fulltime Killer
Help !!!
A Hero Never Dies
The Mission
Needing You
Running Out Of Time
Where A Good Man Goes
Companies :
Milkyway Image (HK) Ltd.
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Page 2 : Milkway Image and the Fanboys
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Page 4 : 100 Years of Film: Commerce and Art

This was not, however, the first screening of a Johnnie To film at a Western film festival. The Udine Far East Film Festival was founded in 1998 and To’s All About Ah-Long was screened that year. In 1999 A Hero Never Dies was a popular favorite at Udine winning the Audience Award. The 2000 edition screened The Mission and Running Out of Time.

The Berlin International Film Festival showed the first of many Johnnie To pictures when it screened The Mission, Where a Good Man Goes, and Running Out of Time in 2000. Likewise, The Mission was shown at festivals in Vienna and Toronto in 2000. At Toronto it was featured in the cult “Midnight Madness” slot.


Johnnie To and Wai Ka Fai at the Udine Far East Film Festival in 2008.
Photo © Frédéric Ambroisine, used with persmission.
Film stock

A pattern emerged of programming Milkyway Image pictures at various international film fests, most often the pictures directed by To himself. But looking at the offerings at Berlin, Udine and Toronto the following year, 2001, there is a startling change in the films directed by To. Three movies were shown at these festivals, Help !!!, Needing You, and Fulltime Killer. Help!!! is a black comedy, Needing You is a romantic comedy starring two Hong Kong Cantopop singing stars and Fulltime Killer is a tale of international contract killers that isn’t even set primarily in Hong Kong and features a pan-Asian cast speaking a host of languages. Gone are the black crime thrillers like A Hero Never Dies, The Mission or the other nihilistic offerings from Milkyway. In their place are movies aimed squarely at the average Hong Kong cinemagoer, precisely the viewers that had stayed away from the earlier Milkyway pictures in droves. Just at the moment when the West was developing an interest in Johnnie To and his Milkyway Image releases, Johnnie To once again changed his focus as a filmmaker.
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Page 2 : Milkway Image and the Fanboys
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Page 4 : 100 Years of Film: Commerce and Art

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