Filmmakers call on government to save dying Hong Kong cinema
Filmmakers implore government to be more focused in its support of the movie industry
The city's filmmakers have urged the government to act fast to revive the declining local film industry or face the demise of Hong Kong cinema.
Industry professionals issued the call in the light of Ang Lee's latest Oscars victory as best director. Taiwan-born Lee thanked the city government of Taichung, west-central Taiwan, on Monday for raising NT$50 million (HK$13 million) to help build the site where most of his winning work, Life of Pi, was filmed.
Compared with Taiwan, the Hong Kong government lacked flexibility and vision in its support of the movie industry, allowing a rigid funding framework to get in the way, local players said.
Culture-sector lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok, a former film producer, said Hong Kong was unfocused in its support, a problem that was shown up by Lee's case. "The [Hong Kong] government is not enthusiastic enough."
The government supports film projects and related work through its Film Development Fund, which offers grants to small and medium-sized productions. Since 2007, the fund has backed 22 film productions and 79 related projects as of October last year, approving funding of HK$320 million.
Film Awards Association director Tenky Tin Kai-man said the government could be more proactive in its support.
"But the industry needs to be clear about what we want, so that we can change the current support framework," Tin said.
Canto-pop star and award-winning actor Leon Lai Ming has reservations about excessive direct government support.
Lai, who is the Hong Kong Entertainment Ambassador this year, said the city need not follow Taiwan in terms of funding.
"If a young woman can splash out HK$600,000 for a flat when Cheung Kong [sold its Kwai Chung hotel suites], there is definitely money in this town," he said at a press conference to announce the Entertainment Expo which begins on March 18.
"To what extent can the government help the film industry? A good film project will always attract investment," he said.