Better Days - IFFAM - 4th International Film Festival and Awards ‧ Macao

Better Days
Hong Kong SAR, Mainland China | 2019 | 135’ | DCP | Colour | Mandarin | Group: C
Director: Derek Kwok-cheung Tsang

Showtimes
2019/12/05 20:45 Macao Old Court Building

Programmer’s Note

Deeply touching and, at times, disturbing, Better Days by Derek Tsang, shows the devastating impact of school bullying with rare attention to emotional details. Like in the recent Chinese blockbuster Dying to Survive but in a more realistic way – the film investigates that grey area of society where the limits imposed by law and morality are blurred if not virtually non existent. Shifting from high school drama, which investigates bullying and the pressure of the University Entrance Exam (gaokao), to tainted love story and murder thriller, the Tsang’s assured direction never fails to keep a high level of adrenaline in the narrative. The excellent performance of Zhou Dongyu seamlessly matches the film’s changing tones and the emotional ups and downs of a teenager in distress while her on-screen chemistry with Jackson Yee – surprisingly good in his transition from handsome boyband heartthrob to street punk – engages the audience in a rollercoaster of strong feelings and real emotions.

Synopsis

On the cusp of China’s competitive national college entrance exams, Nian, a 17-year-old schoolgirl becomes the target of school bullying after a fellow classmate committed suicide. She later discovers an unlikely ally in Bei, an orphaned street youth. He becomes her protector and they form a unique bond that is soon tested when they are both implicated in a murder.

Director

Derek Kwok-cheung Tsang

Born in Hong Kong on November 8, 1979 and graduated from University of Toronto, Derek Kwok-cheung Tsang began working as an actor in Hong Kong and found himself in numerous film projects including Samson Chiu’s Golden Chicken (2002), Pang Brothers’ The Eye 2 (2004), Pang Ho Cheung’s AV (2005), Isabella (2006), Love off the Cuff (2017), Missbehavior (2019), Choi Dong-hoon’s The Thieves (2012), David Lam’s Z Storm (2014) and S Storm (2016).

Starting from 2010, Tsang also went on directing his own films and co-directed with Jimmy Wan for his directorial debut Lover’s Discourse and was nominated in 15th BIFF New Currents section and competed for the Best New Director award in 47th Taipei Golden Horse Awards and awarded for Grand Prix (Best Picture Award) in 6th Osaka Asian Film Festival.

Tsang’s debut as sole director, Soul Mate (2016) was critically acclaimed and earned him the Best Director Award at 2017 Hong Kong Film Directors’ Guild and Best Director nomination at 53rd Golden Horse Awards, where Soul Mate received the unprecedented duo Best Leading Actress awards in Golden Horse Awards history. Soul Mate has also received the ABC Award at 12th Osaka Asian Film Festival, the Best Actress (Zhou Dongyu) and Film of Merit at 23rd Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards, and Best Original Film Score at 36th Hong Kong Film Awards.

Tsang’s latest work, Better Days (2019) was selected into the Generation 14Plus section of the 69th Berlin International Film Festival. Better Days (2019) offers thought-provoking insights into the severe competition of National College Entrance Examination among nearly 10 million teenagers every year and national issues of school bullying.

Cast & Crew

Director Derek Kwok-cheung Tsang

Scriptwriter(s) Lam Wing Sum, Li Yuan, Xu Yimeng

Producer(s) Jojo Yuet-chun Hui

Cinematographer Yu Jing Pin

Production Designer Liang Honghu

Editor Zhang Yibo

Music Barqu Buehrer

Costumes Designer Dora Ng

Cast Zhou Dongyu, Jackson Yee, TYin Fang, Huang Jue, Wu Yue, Zhou Ye

Production Companies Goodfellas Pictures Ltd., Fat Kids Production

Distributor Edko Films Ltd.

World Sales We Distribution Ltd.

New Chinese Cinema