Award winner 'wanted to see Hong Kong film improve'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 March, 2013, 3:52am

The recipient of a controversial critic's award says her purpose in writing the winning review was to push for an improvement in Hong Kong film.

But Jia Xuanning, 24, a journalist with pro-Beijing newspaper Wen Wei Po, declined to comment on whether she had connections with two of the six judges of the Arts Development Council's first Critic's Prize.

"I don't think I have to reply to this question," Jia said when asked whether she thought she won the HK$50,000 prize fairly. "You should ask the organiser."

Questions of conflict of interest arose when it emerged that Jia also writes for Yazhou Zhoukan, whose chief editor, Yau Lop-poon, was one of the judges while another judge, Perry Lam, is a columnist at the magazine.

Jia's review of Hong Kong director Pang Ho-cheung's film Vulgaria was also controversial because it accused the movie of having degraded mainlanders to make Hongkongers feel good.

The movie "presented the narrowness, opportunism and pretentiousness of Hong Kong society", she wrote.

Yesterday Jia told the South China Morning Post that the controversy was a good thing, as it could prompt discussion and thought. "I criticise [Hong Kong film] as I hold an expectation towards it, I want to see an improvement," she said.

Both Yau and Lam have rejected suggestions of conflict of interest, saying the judges did not know who the authors of the 60 entries were. The arts council said in a statement on Wednesday that the names of the writers were not shown to the judges during the competition to ensure fairness and impartiality.