Hongkongers will get a free glimpse of some of Europe's best short films at a new festival aimed at promoting the continent's culture and expanding its influence.
The first European Short Film Festival, which opens today at the Film Archive, showcases 10 short films from 10 European Union countries. Organisers hope to take the festival to other Asian destinations.
The five-day festival is jointly organised by the European Union Office to Hong Kong and Macau, along with British and French cultural organisations and local partners including City University. The films have been selected by the European Film Academy, and they include the winner of last year's European Film Award for best short, Superman, Spiderman or Batman.
French filmmaker Pauline Gay, director of another featured film, award-winner Tomorrow It Will Be Good, is in the city on an artist residency programme with the Arts Centre this week.
Pierre-Yves Lochon, one of the festival organisers, said film had long been part of the quest to expand cultural influence, so-called soft power. "Film has always been used by Europe as a diplomatic tool all over the world," he said, citing festivals organised worldwide by EU members such as France and Germany.
But he said there were fewer events in Asia dedicated to short films, typically defined as those less than 40 minutes in length.
Lochon said short films were an important training ground for emerging filmmakers.
He said cosmopolitan Hong Kong was the perfect launch pad for the event, which will later be expanded to Macau, Taiwan, Singapore and the mainland.
Tickets are free, but online registration is required. Lochon hopes to retain a free-admission policy when the not-for-profit festival is repeated in future.
The film festival runs until Saturday.