Golden age of Hong Kong movies long gone

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 October, 2012, 3:10am

Last year, Perry Lam wrote a book titled Once A Hero: The Vanishing Hong Kong Cinema. In it he explains why the Hong Kong film industry is in decline.

Many of the city's film directors, such as Wong Kar-wai, Andrew Lau Wai-keung and Johnnie To Kei-fung, have turned towards the mainland in order to reach a larger audience. These directors played a pivotal role during the golden age of the Hong Kong film industry. Its achievements were internationally recognised with stars such as Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-fat and Stephen Chow Sing-chi.

In his book Lam points out that film companies are so money-oriented that they do not want to make a movie that cannot yield a profit. So they decline to make art-house productions because they do not think they will be a success at the box office. Therefore, many directors are forced to take on projects that will make money.

However, despite the industry's decline here there is still hope. Last year A Simple Life, starring Deanie Ip Tak-han and Andy Lau Tak-wah, competed in the Venice Film Festival and won Ip a best actress award.

I hope the success of this film will persuade the government to allocate more resources to Hong Kong's film industry. This could help film-makers produce more art-house and low-budget movies, and re-establish the local industry's reputation on the world stage. The government has never done anything for the film industry, except when it implemented laws introducing a foreign film quota.

Reviving the industry's fortunes will take more than laws. The administration should, for example, help raise standards for screenwriters.

It should offer funds to small film productions. If it fails to do anything, then the Hong Kong film industry will eventually vanish.

Martin Seng, Pok Fu Lam