Hong Kong International Film Festival

Apology over festival screening blunder

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2008, 12:00am

The Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) said an apology had been sent to Yoji Yamada after organisers were blamed for mishandling the Japanese filmmaker's festival curtain-raiser and embarrassing Hong Kong on the international film scene.

The festival was accused of bungling the soundtrack of the opening-night film Kabei - Our Mother. Near the end of the screening, the soundtrack was interrupted by a bilingual announcement telling guests about a VIP cocktail party after the screening, on March 18 at the Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Yamada was in Hong Kong to attend the opening ceremony and to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Asian Film Awards on March 17, organised by the HKIFF Society.

The incident angered the audience attending the opening-night screening, including film director Shu Kei.

'I was very angry and I was the first one among the audience to yell out, 'Shut up'. Then many people followed me after the announcement kept on playing for about 30 seconds,' he said.

'The film was not entirely over at that time. Even though the end credits began to roll up on the right-hand side of the big screen, the film was still going on the left-hand side of the screen,' Shu said. 'It was a very crucial moment for the film because it was very emotional.'

Shu said he complained to the festival's management, suggesting a rerun of the film for those who attended that screening. 'They only said they will investigate the incident. I really hope they can do something.'

Many have expressed their discontent on the internet. One blogger named Ryan wrote on his that the festival had failed to show respect for film and filmmakers.

A thread called 'Shame on You, Film Festival' has drawn fierce discussion after it accused the festival of embarrassing Hong Kong.

The HKIFF said there was a technical problem at the end of the film, but the festival did not receive any complaints except the one from Shu.

A festival spokesman said: 'We have already sent our deep apologies to Mr Yamada. We will take the responsibility from now on to make sure that all the technicians at the facilities we have hired will not make the same mistake again.'

HKIFF chairman Wilfred Wong Ying-wai said he had discussed the incident with festival staff. The festival said no decision had been made whether a rerun of the film would be scheduled for the audience affected.

The festival runs until April 6.