Shaw Brothers (Hong Kong) complained yesterday that Cepa was useless for the city's film industry, instead of the 'breakthrough' suggested by Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa. 'From the point of view of filmmakers, the agreement is cheating and unhelpful,' Shaw Brothers film production director Lawrence Wong said. Under the deal, Hong Kong films will be exempt from the quota of 20 foreign films China has undertaken to accept annually according to its World Trade Organisation commitments. The agreement also allows Hong Kong firms to set up mainland joint ventures, with ownership of up to 70 per cent, to distribute audio-visual products such as VCDs and DVDs. However, Mr Wong said: '[The quota-free arrangement] doesn't make a big difference. At the moment, Hong Kong filmmakers can enter the mainland market simply by co-operating with a mainland firm. 'People think quota-free means you can freely distribute films and VCDs and control everything in your hands. That is totally not true. 'Companies still need to co-operate with the mainland on film distribution and share their revenue with [Chinese partners] or the Chinese authorities. 'The [new policy] is only to attract investment to the mainland.' Other industry players said Cepa would not benefit Hong Kong unless China solved its piracy problem. 'The quota-free access [for local films] will help the current players in the industry. But the effectiveness of the new measures depends on the crackdown on piracy,' said Tung Tai Securities associate director Kenny Tang Sing-hing. Era Information and Entertainment chairman Andrew Leung Chung-chu agreed. 'The arrangements will accelerate the development of Hong Kong companies in the China market,' Mr Leung said. 'However, the focus should be placed on the piracy issue.' Film distributor Mei Ah Entertainment said it remained to be seen whether more Hong Kong films would be shown in China due to Cepa. Managing director Patrick Tong Hing-chi said: 'Filmmakers have to decide whether the film is for the mainland or a foreign audience. They have to strike a balance before importing a film to the mainland.' Under the terms of the agreement, films produced jointly by Hong Kong and mainland companies have had the ceiling on the percentage of Hong Kong personnel lifted, but at least one-third of leading artists must be from the mainland. The agreement also states that 'the restriction that the story of the motion picture must take place in the mainland is removed, but the plot or leading characters must be related to the mainland'.