Film festival set on finding permanent venue

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 September, 2008, 12:00am

The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society plans to set up a permanent venue to screen art-house features year-round.

Festival chairman Wilfred Wong Ying-wai told the Sunday Morning Post that the festival's new executive director, Soo Wei Shaw, a granddaughter of movie and television mogul Sir Run Run Shaw, would press ahead with the project.

Mr Wong said the need for a festival cinema had become more urgent with the growth of the Asian Film Awards - the opening-night event also organised by the film festival for the annual Entertainment Expo.

He said that for two years since the awards were first held, only winning films were shown after the awards, but that was not ideal.

'The public should be able to see the films as soon as they are nominated for the awards, not only after they have won something.'

He said he hoped that the film festival's atmosphere would not be limited to just the festival months of March and April.

'We hope to keep a regular dialogue with film-lovers, especially after the closure of CineArt House,' he said, referring to the cinema in Wan Chai that was closed in 2006 when landlord Sun Hung Kai Properties refused to renew the lease.

'The festival sources many films and it's a pity that we can't have more screenings. Without a permanent venue to have more screenings, many international films and industry big shots might choose to skip Hong Kong.'

Mr Wong said the festival's management had been negotiating with local cinema operators and hoped that by March or April, when the film festival was staged, a deal could be finalised.

But he declined to reveal which cinema operators the festival had been negotiating with.

In relation to Ms Shaw's appointment, Mr Wong said the festival's board of directors had hired a headhunting agency to find a new executive director. He said the fact that the Singapore-born Oxford graduate was a granddaughter of Sir Run Run had not figured in the deliberations.

'She worked for the Singapore Film Commission and in the film and media business,' he said.

'There aren't that many talents in the film industry with experience on both government and business sides. We didn't know that she was Run Run Shaw's granddaughter until we asked her about her unusual surname during the interview.'

He hoped that Ms Shaw's international connections could help the festival expand and raise sponsorship from the private sector.