Hong Kong International Film Festival

Inspiring young movie-goers top priority for new film festival chief

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 September, 2010, 12:00am

Inspiring a passion for cinema among the next generation of movie-goers through new technology will be a top priority for the city's new international film festival chief.

Film festival veteran Roger Garcia will return as executive director of the Hong Kong International Film Festival at the end of this month, a role he held in the 1970s when the event was run by the Urban Services Department. He has since worked as a consultant for the festival.

Garcia is also planning initiatives to foster the talent of budding film programmers, writers and critics in the coming years.

Garcia's appointment was announced yesterday by the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society. He takes over from Shaw Soo-wei, who is leaving her position after two years of service.

Garcia, who is currently based in the US, will return to his city of birth to manage the festival, as well as the Asian Film Awards and the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum.

A renowned programmer and curator of film festivals around the world, Garcia described his new job as a homecoming.

'I started my film career here,' said Garcia, also an established film critic, writer and producer.

Having been a 'film person' for 30 years, Garcia said he now hoped to show films as a group in a festival that can articulate a vision of cinema. And the format for showcasing those films may not be limited to the big screen.

Garcia said he hoped to reach a wider, and especially younger, audience through new technology. 'People watch films in every format they can think of, and we can use new technology to meet the audience, such as by streaming films,' he said.

Garcia said he wanted to develop the film literacy of younger viewers. 'We are being bombarded by Hollywood blockbusters, but it's important to keep the auteur and art films ... keep the idea among the audience that cinema is a diversified culture.'

While glitz and glamour have become an essential part of film festivals, the Hong Kong event should also be about promoting local culture and talent, Garcia said.

'The Hong Kong International Film Festival is an important part of the Hong Kong cultural landscape,' he said, agreeing it was important for the West Kowloon Cultural District to devote areas to cinema such as the theatres recently proposed in one of the conceptual plans for the hub.

Garcia said the plan reminded him of Southbank in London. He recalled going to the theatre at Southbank when he studied in England. 'That was when I learnt about cinema as a student,' he said.

As the festival's executive director, Garcia said he planned to make the case for a theatre in the Kowloon arts hub that was dedicated to a range of film genres.

Although other film festivals have sprung up in the region, Garcia believed the Hong Kong event, the first of its type in Asia, still had its niche and was supported by strong programming and curatorship.

But he noted there was a lack of successors and he planned to cultivate curatorial skills among the next generation. Grooming the next breed of writers and critics is also on Garcia's mind. He said he hoped the festival could organise an event similar to the annual Talent Press, which is run by the Berlin International Film Festival's Talent Campus and open to young film critics and journalists around the world.

Whether or not sponsors could be secured would determine the extent to which these plans could be carried out, Garcia said. 'We are trying to develop a new generation and promote film culture among a young generation who will grow up and become ambassadors or commentators of films,' Garcia said. '[Sponsors] might not see the immediate return, but the return comes when the young generation takes over in future.'