There were no Hong Kong directors presiding over the festival jury and no glamorously attired Hong Kong actors treading the red carpet on their way to the world premiere of their latest film. Gone also was 'Hong Kong Night', the Trade Development Council's long-standing institution on the Croisette - Cannes' beachfront boulevard - to celebrate Hong Kong's own film industry. This year's Cannes International Film Festival - which began yesterday with a screening of Fernando Meirelles' adaptation of Nobel laureate Jose Saramago's Blindness - looks set to be a quiet affair for Hong Kong's filmmakers. Only Wong Kar-wai's Ashes of Time Redux, a re-edited version of his 1993 martial-arts drama, is on the festival's main programme - on an out-of-competition slot. Another rare event involving a Hong Kong cast and crew is a press conference for the non-festival Red Cliff, John Woo's unfinished mainland-Hong Kong co-production. With the absence of glitter and gloss, the gritty side of show business will form the core of Hong Kong's delegation at Cannes this year with 15 film companies trading their wares - from finished films to tentative projects - to international buyers at Marche de Cannes, the film market that runs parallel to the festival. Albert Lee Nga-bok, Emperor Motion Pictures executive director, said his firm's emphasis at Cannes had always been 'doing business'. 'There was only one time when we really did a grand publicity driven launch here - for The Myth in 2005 - and that's because we could match schedules with Jackie Chan [who stars in the film],' he said. The same goes for the other film companies at Cannes this year, with many emboldened by the success of Flash Point last year, which was picked up by many international distributors at the market on the strength of the taster reel. Three Hong Kong films were shown in the market screening yesterday. Ching Siu-tung's An Empress and the Warriors and Peter Chan Ho-sun's The Warlords have both already been released in Hong Kong. Dante Lam Chiu-yin's The Sniper - which stars disgraced pop idol Edison Chen Koon-hei and has yet to clear the mainland's censors - made its first bow to international buyers in an invitation-only screening geared exclusively for industry figures. While the release date for the film remained unclear, Ricky Tse Chi-keung, head of distribution at the film's producers, Media Asia, said some of the film's international distribution rights had already been sold. Mr Lee said the absence of young Hong Kong filmmakers at festivals like Cannes was worrying. 'The new generation of directors seems unable to take up the mantle of their predecessors,' he said. 'Especially when the Hong Kong industry is in a difficult time, when launching a film for a new director is already difficult, not to mention getting them to film festivals.'