Film fest hopefuls up by 120pc
A new online submission system and the launch of an international competition for short films has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of films seeking a place at this year's Hong Kong International Film Festival, more than doubling last year's tally to 804.
However, fierce competition between the films is expected because only about 200 will be accepted by the festival, which celebrates its 34th anniversary this year.
Organisers said films from North and South America, Europe and Australia were mainly responsible for the increase in submissions.
The 804 films come from 69 countries and regions, compared to last year's 365 films from 50 countries and regions. Among them, 602 are feature films. Some 202 short films have been submitted, up from last year's 59.
The executive director of the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society, Shaw Soo-wei, said the number of submissions reflected the city's important position in the Asian film market.
'Hong Kong being at the crossroads of commerce with a long history in filmmaking, the HKIFF represents a destination to capture the fastest-growing markets, co-production opportunities and film project financing in Asia,' Shaw said.
The artistic director of the society, Li Cheuk-to, said the sharp increase in submissions was largely because of the inaugural short film competition, which opens a new door to many young filmmakers.
Li said the new online submission channel helped filmmakers, allowing them to upload their films online rather than having to send DVDs.
Although Asia, particularly China, was a growing market for films, the increase in the supply of films from the region was not as strong as that from Western countries, Li said. 'It shows that Western countries, especially developed English-speaking countries, are still major suppliers of films, and the Asian market is a good market for them,' he said.
This year's submissions cover a much wider variety of themes than in previous years, Li said, adding that he held high hopes for the short film competition.
Since the organisers have decided to cut this year's festival by six days to 17 days, only about 200 films will be shown, compared to 300 in previous years. Li said the shortening of the festival brought it into line with its duration when it was operated under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
As well as selecting films from submissions for showing, organisers will invite specific films to participate in the festival.
The programme will not be published until February 25. However, one film has been confirmed - the Asian premiere of the fully restored version of Fritz Lang's masterpiece Metropolis, to screen on April 1.
The screening of the silent film, which had its world premiere in Berlin 83 years ago, will be accompanied by the live performance of the original score by Gottfried Huppertz, a close collaborator of Lang. The Hong Kong Sinfonietta, directed by renowned conductor Frank Strobel, will perform the score.
The festival will run from March 21 to April 6.