The Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) celebrates an anniversary this year — its 35th — and is welcoming new executive director Roger Garcia, who joined in September

Garcia, who was director of HKIFF in the 1970s and is a respected film critic, writer and educator, replaces Soowei Shaw who returned to her native Singapore after three years at the helm.

The festival (March 20-April 5) has selected two opening films with strong Hong Kong ties but very different subject matter. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart [pictured] is a romantic comedy, directed by long-time collaborators Johnnie To and Wai Ka Fai, while Quattro Hong Kong 2 features four short films from Thailand’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the Philippines’ Brillante Mendoza, Malaysia’s Ho Yuhang and Hong Kong’s Stanley Kwan.

Wai is also this year’s Filmmaker in Focus and the festival will screen 11 of his films, host an interview with the director and publish a special catalogue.

HKIFF, which will screen 335 films from 56 countries, serves a dual purpose in providing a platform for Hong Kong film-makers but also introducing award-winning films and festival favourites to local audiences. The selection this year includes the Oscar-nominated Incendies, Animal Kingdom and Winter’s Bone, along with recent Berlin winners Nader And Simin — A Separation and The Turin Horse.

Other highlights include a masterclass by Jia Zhangke and the world premiere of Jia-produced documentary Yulu; retrospectives of Abbas Kiarostami and Hong Kong cultmeister Kuei Chih-hung, and sidebars focusing on Romanian and Vietnamese cinema and US indies.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Fortissimo Films, HKIFF will present a retrospective of some of the sales and production company’s best-known titles.

The festival has also appointed Hong Kong actress Miriam Yeung as ambassador for this year’s edition.