by Adam Wright
Out of all of Hong Kong's cultural achievements, the one that we are most proud of - apart from our food, of course - is arguably our home-grown film industry.
No other city of our size has had a similar impact on cinema, let alone invented an entire genre: the chop-socky, high-octane action flicks that initially starred the likes of Bruce Lee and Jacky Chan, dubbed into a multitude of languages and screened around the world.
And after a slump in the mid-1990s blamed on piracy and poor productions, Hong Kong cinema is on the rise again. The number of local films may never exceed the record of 234 made in 1993 - one new flick for every 1.5 days of that year - but the figures show the industry is again on the up, with 55 movies made locally in 2010 compared to 52 in 2009.
Last year was a particularly memorable one for the sector, helped by the success of Alex Law Kai-yui's Echoes of the Rainbow, Tsui Hark's Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, John Woo Yu-sum's Reign of Assassins and Ann Hui On-wah's All About Love, pushing revenue to almost HK$300 million compared to 2009's HK$248 million.
Hong Kong cinema has been in the spotlight lately with several showcases of classic films playing around town - and that spotlight is set to shine even brighter in the coming weeks with the arrival of several international film festivals.
The Hong Kong Film Archive in Sai Wan Ho this month marks 10 years of preserving the city's film history, and is celebrating the milestone with its 'Best from the Archive Collection' programme, which winds up on Sunday.
Highlights of the remaining screenings include Blood-stained Azaleas, a story of seduction and corruption from Lee Sun-fung, to be shown on Sunday, and How to Get a Wife, a romantic comedy starring the dashing Patrick Tse Yin, to screen on Saturday.
It's also not too late to catch the finale of the archive's Morning Matinee Lunar New Year specials, which conclude tomorrow with a showing of Itchy Fingers, the action comedy directed by Leong Po-chih and starring John Woo before he became a Hollywood director.
Meanwhile, two of Hong Kong's most famous screen sirens, Connie Chan Po-chu and Josephine Siao Fong-fong, are well known for their roles in Colourful Youth, a musical adaptation of Taiwanese novelist Chu Hak's dramatic work being shown at the Cultural Centre on Monday.
Starting today is the European Film Festival, providing an international contrast to the focus on Hong Kong cinema that we've been seeing lately. The festival runs until March 9 at the Broadway Cinematheque and Palace IFC cinemas and, while there are many highlights, it's hard to go past Mahler on the Couch and Mike Leigh's Another Year, playing tomorrow and on Saturday, respectively, at Cinematheque.
Add to that the full line-up for the Hong Kong International Film Festival - which is being announced today and runs from March 20 to April 5 - and it starts looking like a pretty good time to be a movie geek. You've got your copy of Going Out, now all you need is some popcorn. See you at the movies.