April 10, 2006


Saturday's papers carried a blistering attack on the HKSAR government by the executive director of the Hong Kong International Film Festival, Peter Tsi. Accusing the government of supporting only imported tourist attractions like the Rugby 7's and Disneyland, Tsi pointed out that only 10% of ticket sales in this year's festival went to tourists and said:

"We have such a limited budget we cannot afford to invite big stars, critics and journalists...Pusan invites 2000 guests with 1000 overseas critics and journalists. We have $700,000 to promote the entire festival and can only invite about 90 people...Working with the Tourism Board is a very strenuous undertaking. They have no vision in building up the attractions of the city...People come for the rugby. What happens if Zhuhai steals the event next year? What will happen when Shanghai builds its Disneyland? If you bank everything on something that does not originate in the city's culture you take a big risk."

The Hong Kong Tourism Board responded by saying, "We have information about the film festival on our website." They then accused the festival of choosing a venue that's too small and couldn't support an influx of tourists, referring to the 1700 seat Cultural Center.

No one would argue that while Hong Kong was made famous around the world by its film industry, things are tougher now. But it seems that the HKSAR government has become an obstacle rather than a source of support for the beleagured industry. Despite having increased ticket sales in recent years, the HKSAR has cut the HKIFF's budget year after year. Last year, after a successful event that combined the Filmart and the HKIFF (something that didn't happen this year due to...well, it depends on who you ask) the HKSAR cut the HKIFF budget by US$50,000, leaving it with under US$1 million in funding.

The HKSAR has never made its lack of support for the HK film industry a secret. Location shooting has always been a nightmare in HK, the film fund was something of a joke, and they seem bedazzled by outsiders who come to film in Hong Kong while neglecting the world class talent they have in their own city. But given the fact that HKSAR's government has demonstrated a lack of transparency, struggles to stifle or dismiss dissent or criticism, and every time evidence of corruption surfaces it's hastily covered up (when a social worker recently reported an abuse of the medical fee waiver system she was criticised widely by her colleagues and superiors and finally quit; and there's the charming recent police shooting which may have been connected to a police corruption scandal but when Legco convened a panel to look into it the Security Chief sent two letters claiming the panel was inapporpriate, and the police on the stand stone-walled, saying the shooter acted alone). Is it any surprise that two different producers I spoke to about the government's support for filmmakers in Hong Kong said that there wasn't any support, but that they were glad since that would only make things harder?

Until the HKSAR government becomes a friend of the HK film industry, rather than an obstacle, Hong Kong will never be able to compete with countries like South Korea who regard their film industry as one of their greatest exports and who support it accordingly.

April 10, 2006 at 12:16 AM in News | Permalink


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Tracked on May 14, 2006 1:34:28 AM


makes me wonder, why dont festival organisers or promoters of films (the later probably) send out screeners instead of doing screenings in far-off countries? if the word has spread about a film or actor / director, then its worth sending stuff like that out, surely? also, i suppose that in the years to come, festivals could be screanings done online at certain broadcast times, to computers... no?

Posted by: logboy | Apr 10, 2006 7:03:18 AM

It's unfair to blame the government for everything that goes wrong. HKIFF has a notorious reputation for lousy organization and its deteriorating relationships with film distributors overseas. Last week i was baffled at HKIFF's irresponsibility in not only cancelling the screening of a programme out of a sudden but also refusing to refund the ticket price and forcing me to watch a replacement instead. As long as the local film industry keeps digging its own grave by churning out rubbish like Seven Swords, shifting blames and turing a blind eye to its own incompentency, it simply doesn;t stand a change of revival even if the government shells out a fortune for it. Clean up your acts before you ask for more!

Posted by: oler | Apr 11, 2006 6:37:21 PM

Oler is right, the HK Film Industry is a joke. The Nepotism, finger pointing, and just about the worst movies to ever be made with production money, compared to what the rest of the world is doing, is just not competitive for business. Jackie Chan blames the HK Press and People for not supporting local films. Chan also blames pirated DVD's for ruining the HK Film Industry, but doesn't seem to notice how bad his film, "The Myth" really is. If Jackie Chan is any representation of HK's Film Mogos, then the industry is very sick indeed.

Posted by: Razz | Apr 13, 2006 2:37:46 AM

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