Hong Kong's film fund should nurture creativity
There are no better rewards for filmmakers than earning a good reputation and money. The local industry must therefore be pleased to have found this summer especially rewarding. Two films - Unbeatable and The Way We Dance - stand out with good reviews and strong box office takings. Meanwhile, productions in Cantonese have been given wider access to cinemas across the border under a free-trade pact signed last week. Instead of being dubbed into Putonghua, as in the past, they can be shown across the mainland with subtitles in simplified Chinese characters. This is encouraging news for the healthy development of the industry.
Particularly noteworthy is The Way We Dance, a budget film based on the story of hip hop dancers pursuing their dream. With 40 per cent of its HK$5.3 million budget coming from the government's Film Development Fund, the dance hit is a bold deviation from mainstream genres packed with action and special effects. With his down-to-earth approach, director Adam Wong Sau-ping has proved that it does not take big names and tried-and-tested formulas to capture an audience. His work is widely praised as a refreshing change in the city's cinematic landscape.
Wong's success owes much to government support. The fund has so far dished out HK$77.63 million for 27 films since 2007. Another HK$170 million has been spent on 94 film-related projects, such as promoting local productions at international film festivals. While the funding has undoubtedly contributed to the industry, it does not go far enough in supporting alternative genres. A Post study on past sponsorships shows the fund tends to favour feature films over documentaries. Those involving big names received more funding for publicity overseas. This approach does little to encourage diversity and enhance international exposure.
A thriving film industry contributes to our economy and international image. The government can help by nurturing an environment conducive to creativity and diversity.