NEW BOUNCE FOR HONG KONG The is­land’s flag­ging film in­dus­try is ready to cap­i­tal­ize on the hun­gry main­land mar­ket, re­ports.

Xu Fan

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

Are­cent movie ex­hi­bi­tion high­lighted the long­time con­cern over the fad­ing film in­dus­try in Hong Kong, which was one of Asia’s most pro­lific hubs about three decades ago.

Hong Kong Movie Week, co-spon­sored by the Bei­jing Of­fice of the Gov­ern­ment of Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tion Re­gion and Broad­way Cine­math­eque, re­leased five well-re­ceived Hong Kong movies in Tian­jin for show­ings dur­ing the past week.

The dis­played ti­tles in­cluded com­ing-of-age movie My Voice, My Life, di­rected by Os­car-win­ning doc­u­men­tary maker Ruby Yang, and the sports flick Full Strike and the crime thriller Two Thumbs Up, which were seen by main­land movie­go­ers for the first time in the­aters.

The re­lease list also had com­edy Lit­tle BigMaster and Dot 2 Dot, this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards’ nom­i­nee. Both had been screened on the main­land early this year.

Many observers say the Hong Kong film in­dus­try was in its golden age be­tween the 1980s and mid-’90s. Dur­ing that pe­riod, the re­gion pro­duced about 300 movies ev­ery year and boasted a big fan base across Asia.

The clas­sic works of ac­tion su­per­stars, such as Jackie Chan and Chow Yun-fat, have be­come part of the col­lec­tive mem­ory of a gen­er­a­tion of Chi­nese movie fans.

Most in­sid­ers at­tribute the fall of the Hong Kong movie in­dus­try to the Asian fi­nan­cial cri­sis in 1997. Another fac­tors: top film­mak­ers were lured toHol­ly­wood, and more for­mu­laic plots ru­ined view­ers’ ap­petites for such films.

The yearly out­put has shrunk to around 50 ti­tles since 2003.

In con­trast, vet­eran Hong Kong film­mak­ers are en­joy­ing a boom in the main­land mar­ket, which pro­duced 618 movies last year and cre­ated a record box of­fice of 29.6 bil­lion yuan ($4.77 bil­lion).

“The early spirit of Hong Kong movies is not dy­ing. HongKong has cre­ated many clas­sic ti­tles. We have the con­fi­dence to make new ones,” saysHongKongMovieWeek’s front man, Nick Cheung.

Cheung, a two-time win­ner of Hong Kong Film Awards’ best ac­tor, re­cently starred in the crime thriller He­lios, which grossed 210 mil­lion yuan over theMay Day hol­i­day.

With a cast of Hong Kong A-lis­ters, the movie was seen by crit­ics as an ef­fort to re­vive Hong Kong movies.

There is also hope Hong Kong film­mak­ers will learn how to bet­ter ap­peal to main­land movie­go­ers.

Kung fu master di­rec­tor Tsui Hark tri­umphed in the rev­o­lu­tion­ary film The Tak­ing of TigerMoun­tain, which brought in a box of­fice of 880 mil­lion yuan.

Derek Tung-Shing Yee, famed for di­rect­ing crime films, chose the ex­tras work­ing in China’s largest film shoot­ing lo­ca­tion, Heng­dian, as the sub­ject of his up­com­ing film, I AmSome­body.

Not sur­pris­ingly, most of the top Hong Kong film­mak­ers, who have tra­di­tion­ally spo­ken Man­darin poorly, have worked to im­prove that short­com­ing.

Vet­eran Hong Kong film pro­ducer Shi­Nan-sun, speak­ing at the just­con­cluded Shang­hai In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, saysHong Kong film­mak­ers know how to tai­lor their work for an in­ter­na­tional mar­ket and winWestern au­di­ences.

The Tak­ing of Tiger Moun­tain, for ex­am­ple, gained the Chi­ne­se­lan­guage movies’ largest over­seas dis­tri­bu­tion in re­cent years.

“In France, 100 cine­mas will screen the movie. It’s very in­spir­ing,” says Shi, who is also the pro­ducer of the movie. Con­tact the writer at xu­fan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

PHOTOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

The 3-D epic TheTakingofTigerMoun­tain, di­rected by Tsui Hark, is one of the most suc­cess­ful co­pro­duc­tions by Hong Kong and main­land film­mak­ers.

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