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October 3rd, 2004, 07:18 PM
Double Hong Kong film series at New York Film Festival
The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York is sponsoring two film series: A Tribute to Shaw Brothers Studios and Recent Films from Hong Kong, at the 42nd New York Film Festival, which opened on October 1.
Director of the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in New York, Miss Sarah Wu, welcomed the audience to the opening night of the Shaw Brothers tribute at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center tonight (October 2, New York time).
"We are proud to be sponsoring two Hong Kong film series here at the 42nd New York Film Festival," Miss Wu said. "The film industry in Hong Kong has had a long and vivid history. Many of you are familiar with recent kung-fu movies such as "Hero" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". What you may not know is that these movies traced their roots back to kung-fu movies produced by the Shaw Brothers Studios, which now define the martial-arts movie genre.
The Shaw Brothers Studios Tribute casts a retrospective glimpse at the pioneering styles of movie-making at the "Hollywood of the East" in Hong Kong. Running from October 2 to 13, the tribute offers a range of key films produced by the Shaw Brothers Studios from the 1950s to the 1970s that demonstrate the extraordinary richness of Hong Kong cinema in these crucial formative years.
This 12-film retrospective encompasses a wide range of genre and film styles, from historical epics to contemporary comedies, from adaptations of operas to Hollywood-style musicals. They include "The House of 72 Tenants", "Love without End", "Blood Brothers", "Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan", etc.
Legendary actress Ivy Ling Bo graced the opening night screening of the classic "The Love Eterne" ( Liang Shanbo Yu Zhu Yingtai) tonight. The movie, directed by Li Han-hsiang, adopted the Chinese opera style of women playing men's role with the dialogues sung in Chinese "Yellow Blossom" operatic style. Ms Ling played the male lead in the movie.
About 200 guests attended the reception that followed the screening tonight, including director An Lee and other supporters of Hong Kong movies.
Complementing the Shaw Brothers tribute at the 42nd New York Film Festival is Recent Films from Hong Kong film series, from October 18 to 28, featuring 15 popular and reputable films produced in Hong Kong since 2000, including the acclaimed cop trilogy "Infernal Affairs".
Miss Wu said Hong Kong contemporary films were also making their mark in the international arena, noting that famed American director Martin Scorsese was planning to shoot the remake of "Infernal Affairs", starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon next year.
"In recent years, Hong Kong's cinematic achievements has reached new highs and I am pleased that you will see for yourself the international acclaim achieved by these Hong Kong actors and directors in the Recent Films of Hong Kong series," she said.
Other films featured in the Recent Films series include Johnny To's "Running on Karma", Wong Kar-wai's "In the Mood for Love", and Lo Chi-leung's "Inner Senses", which was the last work by actor/singer Leslie Cheung.
Details of the film festivals can be found from the Film Society of Lincoln Center web site at http://www.filmlinc.com.
Ends/Sunday, October 3, 2004
Emerging opportunities for Canada-Hong Kong film co-production
Filmmakers in Calgary were encouraged to explore the emerging opportunities in co-producing movies with Hong Kong, capitalising on the preferential treatment offered by CEPA (Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement) for the China market, and making use of Hong Kong's talented people.
Speaking today (October 2, Calgary time) at a film seminar presented by the 5th Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) at Calgary's Sheraton Hotel, Mr Bassanio So, Director of the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office (Canada) (HKETO), discussed with a group of filmmakers and people from the film and television industry about the practical issues pertaining to co-production of films, and the strength of Hong Kong as a film marketing and distribution centre.
Eight Hong Kong films were being featured at the "Spotlight on Hong Kong" series of this year's CIFF between September 24 and October 3. They included "The Floating Landscape", "Running on Karma", "Magic Kitchen", "Golden Chicken 2", "Lost in Time", "Heroic Duo", "20,30,40" and "Elixir of Love".
CIFF has become one of North America's most innovative showcases for Canadian and international movies since its introduction five years ago. Mr So said Hong Kong was proud to be a contributing partner of CIFF. "Apart from prominently featuring eight outstanding Hong Kong films among 300 international and Canadian productions, this year's festival also provides an excellent opportunity for us to examine how Canadian film and television producers can leverage on Hong Kong to embark onto the growing markets of Mainland China and the rest of Asia."
Mr So told the seminar that Hong Kong, being one of the world's largest film exporters after India, the United States and Japan, had captured a significant share in the film markets of Southeast Asia, Taiwan and South Korea. A total of 92 local films were released in Hong Kong in 2002, and even during the SARS outbreak last year 77 were released. The Federation of Hong Kong Film Workers expects that the total number of films to be produced in 2004 would increase by 30% to 40%, and more than half of them would be co-productions.
Hong Kong's film industry has a long history of co-production with overseas companies. Co-production with Mainland China has been popular since the 1980s to take advantage of lower production costs and a wider variety of shooting locations.
"Many foreign studios use Hong Kong as a production co-ordination base for the Greater China region, handling talent recruitment, scripting, financing and overall planning, as well as providing technical support, editing and dubbing services for overseas crews on location shooting in Hong Kong," Mr So said.
"The success stories such as 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon' and the recent Hong Kong-China co-production 'Hero' etc. have proved that Hong Kong has a pool of talented people in the film industry", said Mr So. In 2003, there were over 1,200 film-related establishments in Hong Kong, employing some 6,000 people.
According to the HKETO Director, the trade liberalisation under CEPA has opened up new opportunities for the film industry. Preferential treatment has been given to the distribution of audio-visual products from Hong Kong to China, as well as the construction and renovation of cinemas, distribution of TV programs, and the operation of cable television networks by Hong Kong companies in China.
"Although CEPA is a free-trade agreement between Hong Kong and Mainland China, overseas companies, including Canadian companies, can benefit from it," Mr So said. To benefit from CEPA, Canadian filmmakers can collaborate with their Hong Kong counterparts in joint ventures, to satisfy the requirement that Hong Kong companies should have 75% of the copyright of the motion pictures produced. Furthermore, Canadian companies can inject capital to become a shareholder of an existing service supplier in Hong Kong in order to enjoy CEPA's preferential treatment.
Mr So also invited representatives from Canada's film industry to take part in the Hong Kong International Film and TV market (FILMART), one of the most important film industry events in Asia, in March 2005. The annual event brings together producers, distributors, suppliers and buyers from all over the world, reinforcing Hong Kong's position as a film distribution centre in Asia. Last year, about 300 exhibitors and 2,000 buyers from 40 countries joined the event.
Hong Kong film director Ms Carol Lai, who specially flew to Calgary to promote Hong Kong's film industry and her production "The Floating Landscape", one of the Hong Kong films featured at the CIFF, was one of the speakers at the seminar. The award-winning director shared with the audience her professional views on Hong Kong-Canada and Hong Kong-China co-productions. She also provided a practical "Go East" guide for the Canadian film professionals to venture into the huge China market.
Johnnie To Kei-fung's "Running on Karma" was shown this evening (October 2, Calgary time)at Uptown I cinema as the finale of the "Spotlight on Hong Kong" series. About 400 guests and movie goers attended at the Hong Kong Gala Reception after the movie at the Chicago Chop House in Calgary.
"Spotlight on Hong Kong" was organised with the support of the Fairchild Media Group, Long Shong Group, Applause Pictures Ltd., Universe Entertainment Ltd., Sil-Metropole Organisation Ltd., Filmko Film Distribution (HK) Ltd., and Columbia Pictures Films Productions, and Columbia Tristar Film Distribution International.
The event is fully support by CHKF, FM 94.7, Sing Tao Daily and Trend Weekly as its media sponsors.
Website : http://www.calgaryfilm.com
Ends/Sunday, October 3, 2004
Film festival to showcase HK's best recent productions
Eight recent films by renowned Hong Kong directors will feature in a Hong Kong Film Festival in Toronto October 2-8 being jointly presented by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (Canada) and the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto.
With the support of the Royal Ontario Museum, the Hong Kong Film Festival aims to introduce Canadian audiences to some of the best work of Hong Kong's directors and promote Hong Kong films among Canadians.
HKETO Director Bassanio So said that as one of the world's major film production centres and the regional hub for film trading and services, Hong Kong was well positioned to establish itself as 'Asia's Hollywood'.
"We hope that by bringing these high-quality productions by directors like Johnnie To, Sylvia Chang, Carol Lai and Derek Yee, the Hong Kong Film Festival will give Canadians a better understanding and appreciation of our film professionals who are enjoying worldwide recognition," Mr So said.
Johnnie To's 'Running on Karma' will be the opening film. Others to be screened are: 'The Floating Landscape' by Carol Lai, 'Magic Kitchen' by Lee Chi-ngai, 'Golden Chicken 2' by Samson Chiu, 'Lost in Time' by Derek Yee, 'Heroic Duo' by Benny Chan, 'Elixir of Love' by Riley Yip and '20,30,40' by Sylvia Chang. None of the films have been commercially released in North America.
As part of the festival, a seminar on Hong Kong-Canada co-production will be held on October 5 at the Royal Ontario Museum to examine how Canadian filmmakers and movie companies can make use of Hong Kong to explore the vast Asian market.
Ends/Wednesday, September 15, 2004
October 4th, 2004, 12:23 AM
Usually the kind of HK movies that the wests would like are fighting kungfu movies or guns, action movies. Others like love movies I don't think is so popular. And are the HK movies abroad really so popular and has a big sell? I don't think so...
And other countries life Japan, Republic of Korea, Thailand...etc can produce movies as HK can. I think the competitiveness is big, and the space potential is not as big.
I think most westerners won't like to watch movies like "The Floating Landscape", "Magic Kitchen"...etc. It's just different style. I have some German friend and they said very boring and complain why no sex scenes after watching "My sassy girl"...well but this is just their individual feelings...but I mean most western youngters are different and they don't know what Asian entertainment stage looks like. So it's hard to get a profit.
October 5th, 2004, 03:24 PM
the swedish TV had a HK-movie weekend last year showing 5 HK-movies. cool movies:)
October 6th, 2004, 12:40 AM
I thought they were going to air the original "Infernal Affairs" here in the US?
That's what it seemed when I saw its preview trailer in the movie "Hero."
A Hollywood remake would really suck.
October 6th, 2004, 01:17 AM
A Hollywood remake would really suck
the three heros in the movie 'hero' they translated here in melbourne, nameless(wu ming), broken sword(chan jian), flying snow(fei xue).. local australian friends were asking me isnt this a comedy plus kungfu movie..
misstranslation could spoilt everything..
October 6th, 2004, 09:57 PM
Hong Kong's Best Recent Films Showcase in Toronto
A series of Hong Kong's recent best film productions was unveiled yesterday (October 4, Toronto time) at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto to mark the opening of the Hong Kong Film Festival organised by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (Canada) (HKETO) and the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto.
This followed the successful "Spotlight on Hong Kong" staged between September 24 and October 2 as the highlight of this year's Calgary International Film Festival. (CIFF)
Among the eight films recently directed by talented Hong Kong directors, Johnnie To's award-winning "Running on Karma" was the opening film of the festival last night. It was the CIFF Hong Kong Gala film screened last Saturday in Calgary and met with widespread acclaim.
Organised with the full support of the ROM, the festival aims to promote Hong Kong films and film talents, as well as to enhance the understanding and appreciation of the Canadian community about the works of Hong Kong's film professionals.
At the opening ceremony, the HKETO Director, Mr Bassanio So, said the film festival was also designed to promote the business opportunities available for Canada-Hong Kong co-productions, capitalizing on Hong Kong's advantages under the "Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement" (CEPA) with Hong Kong as a fast track to the Mainland market.
"Hong Kong film industry and its talented film professionals have made their way to the international film arena, contributing much to the vibrancy and versatility of the industry. They are ever ready to partner with their Canadian counterparts on co-production initiatives," he said.
Joining Mr So at the festival opening at ROM were Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Dr Marie Bountrogianni; Member of Provincial Parliament, and Parliamentary Assistant to Minister of Economic Development and Trade Mr Tony Wong; Councillor Norman Kelly of City of Toronto and Councillor Alex Chiu of Town of Markham; and the Director of "The Floating Landscape" Carol Lai, who flew from Hong Kong to officiate at the opening ceremony.
The festival, which is being held from October 2 to October 8, features "Running on Karma" by Johnnie To as the opening film. Other films include: "The Floating Landscape" by Carol Lai, "Magic Kitchen" by Lee Chi-ngai, "Golden Chicken 2" by Samson Chiu, "Lost in Time" by Derek Yee , "Heroic Duo" by Benny Chan, "Elixir of Love" by Riley Yip and "20,30,40" by Sylvia Chang.
As part of the festival, a seminar on Hong Kong-Canada co-production will be held today (October 5, Toronto time) at ROM to examine how Canadian film makers and movie companies can make use of Hong Kong to explore the vast Asian market, especially that in China.
The HKETO Director, Mr So, will join other panel speakers from Goodmans LLP and Hong Kong Trade Development Council to examine the advantages of co-production with Hong Kong; the practical issues pertaining to such co-productions; and the strengths of Hong Kong as a film marketing and distribution centre.
Director Carol Lai will also share her professional views on Hong Kong-Canada and Hong Kong-China co-productions. She will also provide a practical guide for Canadian film professionals to venture into the China market.
End/ Tuesday, October 5, 2004
December 7th, 2004, 01:07 AM
Why Isn't Maggie Cheung a Hollywood Star?
By Susan Dominus
14 November 2004
The New York Times
Having spent the greater part of the day indoors, giving back-to-back interviews about her latest film, ''Clean,'' at the Toronto International Film Festival, the actress Maggie Cheung exited the InterContinental Hotel to meet a spectacularly sunny early fall afternoon. As she strode through the doorway, she ran into a friend from a film shoot, and Cheung, possibly the most famous woman in China, chatted gaily in Cantonese with her colleague, casually standing on the sidewalk as if no one would notice. Close to a minute ticked by before one of the photographers lingering outside the hotel spotted her, possibly because Cheung was wearing Gucci sunglasses so large they were more like small, reflective plates perched on her fine face.
Once one photographer was up and snapping there were suddenly 2, then 4, then 16, until a swirling cloud of microphones and flashbulbs formed around her, gathering as if by some centripetal force, sucking in ever growing numbers of fans and quote seekers and photo snappers, most of them Asian cineastes in town for the festival.
Cheung, accustomed to such crowds, is also accustomed to having people materialize to help her through them, and a young Canadian woman working in public affairs for the festival took Cheung's arm uncertainly. Someone hailed a taxi, and Cheung made her way toward it, laughing lightly as she turned to wave goodbye to her friend. She didn't look as if she'd just escaped a claustrophobic clutch; she looked amused and a bit embarrassed, as if she'd just dashed through a funny little rain shower without an umbrella.
The barometer of public reception, for Cheung, is always uncertain in North America. In Hong Kong, where she has been a star since placing first runner-up in the 1983 Miss Hong Kong pageant at age 18, Cheung, now 40, once holed up in her apartment for three straight weeks to avoid the throng of photographers and reporters outside. In New York and Los Angeles, on the other hand, she is rarely approached even for an autograph, unless it's from an Asian tourist lucky enough to catch her on the street. She is also barely a recognizable face in Canada, which may explain why she allowed herself the luxury of some spontaneous streetside conversation, forgetting that a film festival subverts the normal laws governing her fame in this part of the world.
Cheung has been a fixture of Asian superstardom for 21 years and has won more acting awards in China than any other woman. She started out as Jackie Chan's long-suffering, slapsticky girlfriend, May, in the goofy action-oriented ''Police Story'' movies. (Chan said that when he first saw Cheung on Hong Kong TV, she struck him as someone who ''wouldn't mind me kicking her down a flight of stairs.'') Eventually tiring, as much physically as creatively, of action films, by the late 80's she had started working with the dreamy, painterly filmmaker Wong Kar-wai, trading her role as a plucky comic for more nuanced parts in films like ''As Tears Go By'' and ''In the Mood for Love'' -- women with a noirish unattainability or ingenues shedding their innocence. In the mid 90's, she crossed over to select Western audiences for the first time, working with the French director Olivier Assayas, whom she would eventually marry and who directed her recently in ''Clean,'' the film for which she won the best actress award at Cannes. For Cheung's Asian audiences, it's as if they've watched her morph over the years from Audrey Hepburn to Greta Garbo.
So why is it that American audiences know Cheung only vaguely, if at all, as the woman who fended off a torrent of arrows in the Chinese film ''Hero,'' which was a sleeper success in the United States this summer? It's somewhat mystifying that one of Asia's finest actresses is virtually unknown to Hollywood audiences, as if celebrity were the one export too fragile to make the 7,000-mile trip across the Pacific. Cheung's English, though accented, is fluent; her beauty, universal; her talent, unarguable -- the imprimatur of Cannes confirmed the cross-cultural appeal her Chinese fans have appreciated for decades. To wonder why Cheung isn't a Hollywood star is to wonder a bigger question: why hasn't any contemporary Asian actress become a major Hollywood star?
sitting comfortably in the lobby of the boutique hotel where she was staying in Toronto, Cheung, still wearing her sunglasses, didn't initially seem to find the question particularly compelling. ''I haven't really bothered to explore it, but maybe it's normal,'' she said. ''If you were making a Hong Kong film, what would you expect to do with Robert De Niro? He can play an American living in Hong Kong, but after that. . . . '' She lighted a cigarette, then thought for a moment. ''Then again, now there are so many Asians living abroad, it shouldn't really make a difference.''
In ''Clean,'' set mostly in Paris, Cheung plays a drug addict who is trying to recover so she can get her son back from the parents of the boy's father, who died of a drug overdose. The character, which Assayas, now her ex-husband, wrote specifically for Cheung, happens to be Chinese, but that's a minor aspect of her character, not the pivotal point of the plot: it's not a film about immigration or interracial relationships or cultural misunderstanding. In France, the film was widely distributed and hit No. 2 at the box office in Paris. Cheung's image appeared on the cover of every major French magazine, from Le Figaro's weekly supplement to the downtown Les Inrockuptibles. ''Ten years ago, I think audiences might have thought, What do I care about this Chinese woman?'' Cheung said. ''In Europe, we're about halfway there. But I think maybe American audiences still think that.''
Although she answered my questions about ''Clean,'' Cheung started out by deftly putting off all other queries, instead posing a rapid-fire series of girlish inquiries about her interviewer (marital status, job satisfaction, sibling rapport), behavior that's unusual in any interview subject, much less a celebrity. At first, it seemed a defensive ploy, but eventually she fell into an unguarded conversation about the dumping of men (''but let's not call it dumping''), Chinese astrology, her thoughts on having kids (not ready but unconcerned), her qualms about her resistance to marriage (temporarily single at 35 was one thing, she said, but alone at 45 -- ''I think, well, that wouldn't be very nice''). Raised in England, Cheung has the curiosity of a royal who has only recently been let out of the castle; the freedom of her relative anonymity in the West has still not lost its freshness.
At one point, a suited man from the hotel came over and politely apologized that he had to ask Cheung to put out her cigarette, a request that appeared to cause him some anguish. Cheung smiled sweetly at him, her uptilted face a vision of feminine charm, and asked if, Oh, just this once, she might be able to, since no one else was around. His face turned bright red, and it looked as if it might kill him to insist, but insist he did, at which point Cheung sweetly put it out. Forthright with women, she can't help being aware of the effect she has on men.
Assayas, a boyish 49-year-old well known in France for his cerebral films, says he was struck by Cheung's charisma the first time he saw her in person. ''The first time I met her was on a jury at the Venice Film Festival,'' he said when I met with him at a cafe near his home in Paris. ''We were introduced, and right away I saw in her something I had never seen in another actress. In retrospect, I don't know if it was love at first sight or something more serious.'' He paused, distracted by what he'd said. ''I guess it doesn't get much more serious than love at first sight,'' he mused, then laughed at himself and continued. ''I thought she had something that is fascinating, something I associate more with stars of the past -- she projected something entirely striking but also incredibly modern, like an up-to-date version of an old-fashioned film star. I realized I'd never once made movies with movie stars. I'd made movies with actresses.'' He cast Cheung to play a version of herself in the 1996 film ''Irma Vep,'' an independent movie that riffed off the French classic ''Les Vampires.'' The two fell in love and married in 1998, then grew apart and separated two years later.
On one of the last nights of the Toronto festival, Assayas joined Cheung and several other cast members from ''Clean'' at a restaurant for dinner. Everyone sat a bit awkwardly alongside a tall table, and the topic eventually turned to the early days of Assayas and Cheung's work together. Because he was drawn to her by her star quality, Assayas said, he was surprised to find in Cheung a performer whose charisma was completely uncoupled from the Western notion of celebrity, which holds that great performances demand indulgence and coddling. To the contrary, there's a diligence -- almost a dutifulness -- common to Cheung's circle of Hong Kong performers, most of whom put up with the industry's grueling production schedules. Cheung has raced her way through some 75 films, making as many as 11 in one year during the height of the Hong Kong film industry in the late 80's. ''You sleep in cars, you sleep on the set, anywhere you can,'' she said. Working on one of the ''Police Story'' films with Jackie Chan, she had to run through a stack of bed frames, several of which collapsed on her head, sending her to the hospital for 17 stitches.
That evening, Cheung, who wore her sunglasses even in the dark bar, was dressed, as usual, in black, her hair pulled off her face in a ponytail, tall boots adding height to her already long-limbed frame. As she headed out of the bar, a little on the early side because of her jet lag, the American director Harmony Korine, in town for the festival, was heading in, and he made a beeline for the actress, his head bobbing at about sternum height on Cheung. ''Ms. Cheung, I just wanted to tell you how much I admire your work,'' he said, and she smiled graciously, the very picture of cinematic royalty, before heading out onto a Toronto street where no one took note of who she was.
The claim that no Asian actresses are making it big in Hollywood inevitably invites counterexamples: Lucy Liu, a star of ''Charlie's Angels,'' for one, or Cheung's friend Michelle Yeoh, the former Bond girl. There's no denying that these women are stars, but they're stars of a specific sort: action heroes, variations of the old Asian warrior legends, exotic in both provenance and look. Penelope Cruz can play the romantic love interest opposite Tom Cruise, her accent nothing more than another adorable accouterment; Halle Berry, for better or worse, can get a film like ''Catwoman'' green-lighted. It's nearly impossible, however, to name a studio film in which an Asian-American actress plays the leading role, or the love interest, or even the love interest's best friend, outside of specifically Chinese films like ''The Joy Luck Club.''
Part of this disparity can be attributed to simple demographics: African-Americans represent 13 percent of the American population, Latino-Americans 14 percent, while Asians account for about 4 percent. But filmmakers don't even represent demographics faithfully, argues Jeff Yang, the author of ''Once Upon a Time in China,'' a book about Chinese cinema. ''Even in a movie set in the greater Bay Area,'' he says, ''where one out of three people is Asian-American, if you just look at the background scenes, the bystanders, there are almost no Asians at all. That's not just politically incorrect -- it's fundamentally, demographically, incorrect.''
Janet Yang (no relation to Jeff), who produced ''The People Vs. Larry Flynt'' and ''The Joy Luck Club,'' contends that geography and history place Asian actresses too far outside the range of the girl next door, practically a prerequisite for female superstardom in this country. ''Asia has been perceived as the enemy for many years,'' she adds. ''Look at all the past major wars -- World War II, Korea, then Vietnam. There's this crazy, deep-rooted bias.'' At the time she produced ''The Joy Luck Club'' in 1993, Yang thought the film was a breakthrough; now, she says, studios are even less likely to finance such a film, given the absence of a name-brand, non-Asian star. Richard Hicks, the president of the Casting Society of America, says he proposes Cheung to directors with some regularity: half the time, he says, logistics get in the way -- ''can we get her here by Thursday?'' -- but just as often his clients aren't interested in casting an Asian.
Cheung, for her part, has never been driven to disprove American audiences' stereotypes of Asian performers. To the contrary, she hasn't made much of an effort to break into Hollywood. She has never come to Los Angeles just to make the rounds and rarely makes herself available for auditions. Given the scarcity of roles she'd like to play, it has hardly been worth it to her to pursue Hollywood success, she said; her current schedule is demanding enough. When I met with her in Toronto, Cheung had made the 17-hour trip from Hong Kong to Canada for just four days and was quickly heading back for some professional obligations: a promised appearance at the opening of a store in Shanghai for Louis Vuitton, and then a couple of days of shooting for some mobile-phone ads and commercials for the Hong Kong audience.
Cheung's face is everywhere in Hong Kong. Head to the pharmacy, and she smiles at you from an Oil of Olay promotional ad behind the counter. Walk by the newsstand, and she's on the cover of Chinese Elle and on the billboards at the bus stop. An ad campaign she did for Ericsson hand-held phones in the late 90's was so successful it was cited as a case study in the Harvard Business Review. An entire row of DVD's is devoted to her at the massive HMV on the way to Victoria Park. Having significantly reduced the brutal pace of her filmmaking, Cheung continues to take on numerous promotions, figuring that it's easier to make money in a few days of empty work than in a few months of another action film.
In September, when I visited Cheung in Hong Kong, she had just returned from the Vuitton party in Shanghai -- a disaster, she said, with photographers popping out of nowhere at the arrival of her current boyfriend, Guillaume Brochard, a Frenchman with a jewelry business. She enjoyed only a few days of rest before the shoots for the mobile-phone ads. Out late the night before, she looked tired but still a good 10 years younger than her age. ''They don't know I was out last night,'' she whispered in English, as the mobile-phone reps scrambled around, trying to find appropriate pieces of wardrobe, while a makeup artist tended to her.
Cheung, who helped design her own theatrical makeup in ''Hero,'' occasionally took one brush or another from the makeup artist to do the work herself. Although she clearly knows what she's doing -- she teased her eyelashes out, transforming herself from the coolly disheveled Emily of ''Clean'' to the elegant beauty of ''In the Mood For Love'' -- makeup is her least favorite part of her job. During the shooting of ''In the Mood,'' for 15 months she went to bed at 8 a.m., was picked up at noon to arrive on set by 1 p.m. for hair and makeup, then shot until late in the night, a schedule that it's hard to imagine Nicole Kidman being asked to tolerate.
While her old friend Ray started pinning up her hair, Cheung ate a bowl of rice noodles and someone put in front of her a Hong Kong sweet -- a deep-fried French toast sandwich with peanut butter slathered in between, which she snacked on as Ray finished up. Cheung, who'd shown up in black clogs, jeans and a long-sleeved brown T-shirt, disappeared for an instant, returning in a slinky black dress for the shoot. It was a rapid-fire transformation that suddenly revealed the single curving line of her body.
In the next room, the shooting started, with Cheung holding the cellphone up to her face, propping one leg on a box, hoisting the dress up to show some leg, improvising on the various attitudes a cellphone can apparently inspire. Chatting between shots, Cheung talked about all the traveling she does, the regular 12-hour flights between Hong Kong and Paris, where she found an apartment a few years ago to escape the press. For most of her life, she has lived somewhere between two cultures: when she was 8, her family moved to Kent, England, where she lived until she was discovered on the street on a brief visit to Hong Kong when she was 17.
''No matter where I'm going, I feel like I'm leaving something behind,'' she said. ''Every time I get on a plane, I cry. The flight attendants on Cathay Pacific must think I'm mad.'' She laughed and did an imitation of herself sobbing into her flight pillow.
To Cheung, it seems unavoidable that an actress be ''sad deep down,'' not so much as a job requirement but as a result of the job itself. Through the roles, she said, ''you experience a lot more pain than normal people -- your mom dies, your dad dies, your boyfriend chucks you, you live in the street, and you're really going through these emotions. You're trying to know what it feels like to watch a man die in front of you, as if you've really lived it. Once that division is gone, it gets blurry -- you look back at a shoot and think, was I really that sad because in the film my boyfriend didn't like me -- or was it something else, something real?''
She dashed off for a few more moments of posing, all smiles and allure, before returning to finish her earlier thought. ''I think a lot of my sadness has to do with my mother,'' she said, giving the outlines of her mother's difficult life: an unwanted girl, she spent her days as a young child roaming the streets because her parents wouldn't let her inside except to sleep; she married a man who abandoned her for another woman and left her a single mother.
Someone from the shoot called to Cheung, and she flashed a bright smile. ''Sorry,'' she said, heading back to the shoot, untouchably glamorous once again. On a computer screen someone enlarged a close-up of Cheung's face resting on her hand, as the cameras continued to keep shooting, and the image stayed there for the rest of the shoot. It was a shot of a flawless, serious face, but a face that also looked ambiguously profound, the kind of face onto which its admirer could project seduction, or contemplation, or defiance, or sorrow.
Being a Hong Kong star has some of the advantages of being a Hollywood star, among them comparative luxury. Cheung's well-situated Hong Kong apartment is done up simply in natural woods and elegant beige, its floor-to-ceiling windows opening onto a stunning view of Repulse Bay below. The windows in the back of the apartment, tinted a dark color, reflect the downside of such celebrity: not long after Cheung moved in, photos of her inside her home started appearing in the local tabloids, shot from a strip of road half a mile away.
''If I was drinking something, they said, 'Oh, she got dumped, she's so miserable she's turning to drink,''' she said, pulling the shades down on that window as the sun set. ''Or if my mother and sister came over, they said, 'She's so miserable she needs her family to support her through this hard time.''' Cheung had the window treated, but the paparazzi -- who treat her particularly harshly because she rarely gives interviews -- kept up the bad press. One local magazine shot her current boyfriend leaving the apartment, then badly photo-shopped the image so it looked as if he were making an obscene gesture to photographers with his hand. Waiters and restaurateurs are forever tipping off the press so that when Cheung tries to leave a restaurant, a phalanx is waiting for her.
Even Assayas, from whom she's been separated for years, can't cross a hotel lobby in Shanghai without being swarmed, because of his former association with Cheung. ''In China, they care even more about their stars than in America,'' Assayas said, ''and they're also less shy about approaching them. I don't know what it is. It's less of an individualist society, maybe -- it's like they feel their stars belong to them, are part of the family -- they're someone in the family who made good, and they feel they belong to them.'' Assayas told me a story about accompanying Cheung to a restaurant and escorting her to the door of the ladies' room. ''She opened the door, the door closed behind her -- and then I just heard this girl start screaming,'' he said.
The costs of Cheung's celebrity don't come, however, with all the perks that offset those inconveniences for Hollywood stars. Her apartment is exquisitely placed but hardly vast, and no entourage follows her from shoot to shoot; on set, no luxury trailer allows her to get in character amid down throw pillows and freshly cut flowers. No one so much as tells her she's fabulous, she said, laughing, which is partly a cultural difference. ''Words like 'fabulous,' 'wonderful,' 'great,' 'absolutely gorgeous' -- they don't exist in Cantonese. It's good, or it's O.K. That's it. It's very blunt, Cantonese. I appreciate that there are no fake words, but it's hard to switch channels, sometimes, after I've spent time in France. I'm just learning to use more generous words myself -- but you know, 'gorgeous' -- I just can't go to that extreme.''
Cheung said she never wanted to be a movie star: she wanted to be a hairdresser. In the Western narrative of celebrity, the star burns for fame, works for it, dreams of it. Cheung, by contrast, was discovered on the street while visiting Hong Kong with her mother, then anointed the traditional Hong Kong way, through a beauty contest. Her fame seems disposable to her, even baffling. A kind of respectful acclaim, the kind musicians and authors and artists enjoy, would suit her better. It is not surprising to learn that Hollywood's more arbitrary systems are totally alien to her: for example, the dance of an agent soliciting scripts that his celebrity client will never get around to reading. Even something as basic as the audition is unfamiliar terrain. In Hong Kong, she has been handed every role she has played since she was 18.
Assayas says he thinks that for Cheung's own personal satisfaction, she has to keep making films in the West, to stretch herself and her acting, especially now that the Hong Kong film industry is in serious decline. He recognizes that the roles aren't there; that's why he wrote ''Clean,'' even as the relationship was ending, to showcase the talent that has nothing to do with cheongsams or Asian femininity. American producers do occasionally send Cheung scripts, but the independent films are always about, as she put it, ''ABC's,'' or ''American-born Chinese,'' struggling with their identity, and the Hollywood scripts feature dragon ladies or Chinatown mafia molls or martial artists or mysterious fortunetelling women. Right now the West, whether it's New York or Paris, represents freedom for Cheung, and to sacrifice that anonymity for an uninspiring role would be folly.
''Especially since Cannes, I have a nice feeling out in Hong Kong -- like Maggie is ours, and we're proud of her,'' she said. Shown a script for ''X2: X-Men United'' a few years back, she declined to pursue it, uninterested in the film itself. ''If I start making films like that, they won't be proud,'' she said. ''I'd feel like I was cheating. And I don't want half the world -- we have 1.3 billion people in China -- to know I'm cheating. That matters to me. I have more pride than that.''
Cheung often spends her nights e-mailing friends until 5 in the morning rather than going out on the town or to awards ceremonies or benefits. Occasionally, though, she meets up with friends at a restaurant with a private room. Toward the end of my visit, she picked me up, along with her boyfriend, in a van with covered windows and a driver who took us across the bay to the peninsula side of Hong Kong. Cheung, in sunglasses and boots, exited the car and started making the half-block walk toward the door. Around her, people started walking as if in slow motion, or stopped in their tracks altogether, so that it looked as if Cheung were moving at double speed. We took an elevator up 20 flights to Aqua, a sleek restaurant with interior spaces divided by doors that silently slide open upon approach and dizzying views of the glittering Hong Kong skyline beyond the bay, like New York's seen through a magnifying glass, perfect and arrogant and untouched.
''A couple of weeks ago, I was in a room like this, and suddenly it was like one of those gangster movies, you know?'' Cheung said, animated and confiding. ''The door flew open, and then'' -- she shaped her hand like a machine gun -- ''Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang! All these light bulbs started flashing. And then they were gone. My friends and I were like, What just happened?''
As Brochard chatted with a friend of Maggie's who'd just arrived, Cheung replied to a few last questions. Other than now -- she and Brochard seem particularly content -- when had she been happiest? Cheung thought for a moment, then described a time when she stopped acting for a long stretch and came to the States with a boyfriend, crashing at the home of one of his friends. With her boyfriend, Cheung went camping, stayed in hostels, learned to play a good game of pool and went bowling. ''It was heaven,'' she said. ''We were in Los Angeles. And we could go anywhere. No one had any idea who I was.''
December 7th, 2004, 09:38 AM
^^^ Wow! :eek:
I really enjoyed reading this! :okay:
Maggie Cheung had always been my fav HK actress ')
February 22nd, 2006, 06:04 AM
Hong Kong star Leung, US crime writer join forces
HONG KONG, Feb 21, 2006 (AFP) - Hong Kong film star Tony Leung Chiu-wai will star in an English-speaking film being penned by acclaimed American mystery writer Lawrence Block, the actor said Tuesday.
"I started reading (his) detective stories from more than 10 years ago. I've always wanted to change it and make it into a film based in Southeast Asia," Leung said.
The screen heart-throb said he met with the author last year while he was in New York and asked Block, who has written more than 50 books, to adapt one of his books into a screenplay.
"I asked whether he could write me a screenplay," Leung told AFP in an interview. "He's now writing it for me."
Leung said the film will be based in the United States. The original lead character will be changed from an American to an American-born Chinese, whom Leung will play.
He said it will be an English-speaking production but declined to disclose which book will be adapted.
The 43-year-old actor said he will also star in a police flick by Andrew Lau, whose smash-hit cop-thriller "Infernal Affairs" has been remade by Martin Scorsese.
Leung said he hoped some horror elements will be added into Lau's film, the title of which has yet to be decided.
Leung, who won a Best Actor award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival for his role in Wong Kar-wai's "In the Mood for Love," confirmed he will star in Hollywood action director John Woo's ambitious epic story "The Battle of the Red Cliff."
His next production with Wong will be a kung-fu movie about Bruce Lee's martial-arts master that will be set in the 1950s and 1960s. That movie's filming has been postponed, Leung said.
February 22nd, 2006, 06:05 AM
Hong Kong hopes to revive ailing film industry
HONG KONG, Feb 21, 2006 (AFP) - Hong Kong film workers joined forces Tuesday to promote the city's largest entertainment event hoping to revive its ailing movie industry.
The second Hong Kong Entertainment Expo will be held March 10 through April 19 and will combine film, digital entertainment, music and TV productions.
The event will include the Hong Kong International Film Festival, which will showcase more than 200 movies, a movie trade market as well as local awards.
The push comes as the territory's film industry suffered its worst year in a decade in 2005 with plunging domestic box-office receipts and a decline in the number of local productions.
"We still have a good box-office record," said Raymond Chow, the head of local film giant Golden Harvest. "Although the number of productions has fallen ... this is in line with the trend shared by the rest of the world."
He said outstanding local talents, such as musician Peter Kam who won the Silver Bear for the best music for the film "Isabella" at last week's Berlin Film Festival, has given hopes that the industry will pull out of the mire.
Hong Kong released just 55 films last year, the lowest number in 10 years and well down from the 64 movies that hit cinema screens in 2004.
Piracy and the inability of moviemakers to meet the changing tastes of local audiences in the face of Hollywood blockbusters have been blamed for the decline.
February 22nd, 2006, 06:06 AM
Hong Kong's 'Isabella' picks up best film music award at Berlin Film Festival
By MIN LEE
19 February 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong director Pang Ho-cheung's "Isabella" picked up the Silver Bear award for best film music at the 2006 Berlin Film Festival, one of the highest foreign honors for a Chinese-language movie in recent years.
The only other east Asian movie in the main competition, "Invisible Waves," a Dutch, Thai and Hong Kong co-produced thriller, came up empty in awards announced in Berlin Saturday.
The composer for "Isabella," Peter Kam, said he took a minimalist approach in writing the score.
"I liked using a lot of music, very noisy music in my past movie scores, especially in Hong Kong, because we want the atmosphere to be stronger and more obvious. But what's different about this movie is, director Pang and I tried to use less music because we wanted to let the actors act," he told Sina.com in an interview broadcast on the Chinese news Web site.
Kam, also responsible for the score for Peter Chan's recent musical movie "Perhaps Love," said he listened to Portuguese fado music for inspiration.
"Isabella" is the story of a suspended police officer and his daughter set in the former Portuguese colony Macau, a now-Chinese territory situated near Hong Kong.
"We're not making genuine Portuguese music, but we used its spirit in the movie's score," Kam said.
In other Asian winners outside the main competition, Taiwan's "A Fish with a Smile," won the Special Prize of the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk for best short film and Korean director So Yong-kim's U.S.-Canadian production "In Between Days" won the FIPRESCI Forum prize, decided by The International Federation of Film Critics.
The Chinese-Italian film "Little Red Flowers" by director Zhang Yuan won the C.I.C.A.E. Panaroma prize, awarded by the International Confederation of Art Cinemas.
The Japanese movie "Dear Pyongyang" by Yang Yong-hi won the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema prize.
The Iranian film "Offside" by Jafar Panahi won the Jury Grand Prix Silver Bear.
March 22nd, 2006, 05:10 AM
Actress Maggie Cheung calls for unity to save Hong Kong film industry
HONG KONG, March 20, 2006 (AFP) - Award-winning Hong Kong filmstar Maggie Cheung appealed Monday for the local media to help save the territory's struggling movie industry as she was voted most charismatic Chinese actress in an online poll.
Cheung, who won the best actress gong at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival for her role in "Clean", criticised the press for putting down new actors at a time when the once-dynamic Hong Kong film industry is going through its worst time in a decade.
"I know that the Hong Kong film market is small but I hope the press will stop putting down local actors. Why can't we be united and work together to promote the Hong Kong film industry?" she said to an audience at the second Entertainment Expo, the southern Chinese territory's biggest entertainment event.
Cheung, 41, made her comments after she was voted the most charismatic Chinese actress by 43,000 people from Hong Kong, China and Taiwan in an online poll by Expo organisers.
Hong Kong heart-throb Tony Leung Chiu-wai of "In the Mood for Love" was voted the most charismatic actor, while directors Johnnie To of triad gangster flick "Election" and Tsui Hark of kung fu epic "Seven Swords" were both voted the most admired Chinese directors.
Hong Kong's main annual film awards will be handed out at another ceremony on April 8 which is also part of the month-long Expo.
Among the celebrities who attended the Expo, which runs for a month, was acclaimed "2046" and "In the Mood for Love" director Wong Kar-wai, action hero Jackie Chan, "The Lover" actor Tony Leung Ka-fai and "Infernal Affairs" director Andrew Lau.
Singers Jacky Cheung and Joey Yung also performed at the gala opening ceremony.
The Expo is hoped to provide a shot in the arm for the territory's ailing film industry which suffered its worst year in a decade in 2005 with plunging domestic box-office receipts and a decline in the number of local productions.
Hong Kong released just 55 films last year, the lowest number in 10 years and well down from the 64 movies that hit cinema screens in 2004.
Piracy and the inability of moviemakers to meet the changing tastes of local audiences in the face of Hollywood blockbusters have been blamed for the decline.
March 22nd, 2006, 05:16 AM
Tony Leung, Jay Chou lined up for HK film projects
HONG KONG, March 20, 2006 (AFP) - The directors of smash Hong Kong cop-thriller "Infernal Affairs" are planning two projects this year to be co-produced with Chinese partners.
Andrew Lau and Alan Mak will begin shooting in May on "Behind the Sin", starring local heart-throb Tony Leung Chiu-wai, producer Media Asia said.
The movie, expected to cost 7.7 million US dollars, will tell the story of an investigation by a policeman and a private detective, of a murder of the officer's father-in-law, said Jeffrey Chan, head of distribution at Media Asia.
Chan said the duo's second project this year will be a period drama set in Hong Kong starring Taiwanese pop sensation Jay Chou.
Shooting will start in the second half of this year. The title and budget are yet to be decided, Chan said.
"Infernal Affairs" is meanwhile being remade by Martin Scorsese.
March 23rd, 2006, 04:56 AM
Western film agents hit by piracy
Hong Kong Standard
Thursday, 23 March, 2006
Western film agents in Hong Kong for an international film forum say they feel the impact of a growing piracy problem in the mainland.
Lack of information about the market and the increasing popularity of Asian films, especially local and mainland ones, are adding to their struggle to move more deeply into the Hong Kong market, they said on the third day of the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum.
"Today we have confirmation that the Asia market for us is hard to penetrate," said Frederic Theulier, executive for international sales at Hannibal Pictures.
"We are selling cheap and then there is a piracy problem on top of that," he said, adding that his company is prepared to sell movie rights to mainland distributors for up to 40 percent off the selling price in western markets.
But it has been difficult for him to feel reassured that he is selling to legitimate parties.
Theulier said he sold to a Chinese buyer Tuesday and was then told by reliable sources that the buyer might not be legitimate due to questions about the address of the company.
His company is investigating.
Another film agent has taken to asking buyers to secure a letter of credit at an international bank before she hands over the Independent Film and Television Alliance certificate.
"That ensures we get full payment for the release of any material," said Patti Rose, director of international sales at IDT, a California film seller.
She said she found a copy of Valiant, a movie released by parent company Vanguard, in the Ladies Market in Kowloon.
Piracy cost American filmmakers in Asia Pacific more than US$896 million (HK$6.99 billion) in 2004, according to the Motion Picture Association, Asia Pacific.
Imports account for more than 60 percent of Hong Kong's movie tastes. Revenue from non-Hong Kong films grew from US$64 million in 2001 to US$66 million in 2002.
US films make up 80 percent of that market, according to the US Commercial Service, which aids Americans in setting up businesses in Hong Kong.
But as piracy grows, movie dealers are becoming tentative in the market, according to dealers.
"Who it hurts in the end is the movie dealer," said Rami Rivera Frankl, who runs Hobokenwest, a DVD technology company with experience in creating anti-piracy software.
He spoke at the forum that is being held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Small to medium-sized movie dealers are suffering the most because of "razor-thin profit margins," Frankl said.
A movie distributor from Los Angeles, Pierre David, who owns Imagination Worldwide, said it is becoming increasingly difficult to sell film rights in the market because of the lack of knowledge about the everchanging regulations in China and the piracy situation in the mainland.
"China is a mystery," said David, who is in Hong Kong trying to pitch full distribution rights to Chinese buyers at about US$5,000 a film.
"One woman from Beijing said she only wanted Internet rights. I don't want to give only Internet rights," he said.
He added that he was intrigued by the number of Chinese buyers asking him questions about the market when he himself felt he didn't understand it.
"I think they are searching for their own market," David said.
The piracy problem has angered the global film industry and led to efforts by the United States and the European Union to combat the problem.
US President George W Bush recently signed the Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act, which is seen by some China watchers as a significant step in addressing the problem of infringement on intellectual property rights for products sold in China.
The anti-piracy and intellectual protection drive has sparked new initiatives in technology to thwart the piracy threat.
When film companies license video- on-demand products from large motion picture companies, they now go to a post-production company that specializes in encrypting data on DVDs.
These post-production houses compress files on DVDs that make them nearly impossible to decode.
One film agent attributed the difficulty in pitching to the Asian market, especially in Hong Kong, to the rising popularity of local films.
Recently, several Chinese films or films by Asian directors have received massive media attention worldwide.
Taiwanese director Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain about two gay cowboys won the best director accolade at the recent Oscarss ceremony amd actress Zhang Ziyi starred in an all- Chinese geisha lineup in Memoirs of a Geisha, a story about Japanese ladies- in-waiting living in World War II Japan.
The forum catalogue lists 25 Asian directors and screen writers, most of whom are from the mainland, Hong Kong or Taiwan, who are looking for financial support for their films or upcoming projects.
March 30th, 2006, 04:17 PM
Jackie Chan Injured by Stuntman
28 March 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - A stuntman wearing the wrong shoes kicked Jackie Chan in the chest, sending the action star to the hospital for a checkup earlier this month.
"These things just happen," Chan said Tuesday on his Web site. "I always put safety first when filming, but still, sometimes things just go wrong. It was just an ordinary accident. The stuntman working with me had on the wrong shoes and I got hurt."
The 51-year-old actor was injured while shooting the action-comedy "Rob-B-Hood" in Hong Kong.
The injury was painful but doctors said Chan was in "good shape." He continued to feel pain for several days after the March 23 accident, but he is improving, according to the Web site.
Chan's films include the "Rush Hour" movies, "The Medallion" and "Shanghai Knights."
April 1st, 2006, 05:48 PM
Chan Still in Pain From Chest Injury
1 April 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Jackie Chan says he's still in pain from a recent chest injury sustained while filming his latest movie, "Rob-B-Hood."
"It's still swollen. It really hurts," the 51-year-old action star told reporters Friday at the opening festivities of a Hong Kong rugby tournament.
Chan, whose screen credits include roles in the "Rush Hour" movies, said an X-ray showed no broken bones but cartilage injury.
"Breathing hurts. ... It hurts to draw my fist. It's been hard filming fight scenes these past two days," he said.
Chan was injured March 23 when a stuntman wearing the wrong shoes kicked him.
He has suffered numerous injuries performing his own stunts.
April 3rd, 2006, 04:38 PM
Can Hong Kong Produce New Jackie Chan?
By MIN LEE
3 April 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - "The Matrix" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" action director Yuen Wo-ping fears that Hong Kong may not be able to produce another Jackie Chan or Jet Li.
Yuen said Monday Hong Kongers tend to shy away from the hard work that martial arts training entails.
"More people learn martial arts in China. Hong Kong doesn't have another generation of action stars. Many people don't want to learn martial arts because it's too hard," Yuen said on the sidelines of a tribute to action choreographers organized by the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
Chan's action prowess came from training at a Peking Opera school while Li was a national martial arts champion in China.
Yuen named Chinese newcomer Wu Jing, who played a vicious killer in the recent "Sha Po Lang," as a promising talent.
He also praised Donnie Yen, who choreographed "Sha Po Lang."
"His fundamentals are really good," Yuen said. "He's willing to rack his brains in designing new moves."
Yuen, whose Hollywood credits also include "Kill Bill," said U.S. filmmakers were drawn to Hong Kong action style because they can't reproduce the same moves.
"Their action sequences aren't as diverse as ours," he said.
Yuen said he is currently working on two U.S. projects, one set in modern day and the other revolving around Snow White. He did not give further details.
Monday's tribute also honored Chan, "Hero" action director Ching Siu-tung, "Martial Law" star Sammo Hung and Lau Kar-leung.
Hung said he's gratified that action choreographers are getting more credit these days.
"Many years ago action choreographers weren't recognized for their blood and sweat. Gradually there were prizes recognizing action design. Gradually we have been comforted," he said.
April 7th, 2006, 06:39 AM
Hong Kong star tapped for Hollywood's "Grudge 2"
HONG KONG, April 6, 2006 (AFP) - Hong Kong star Edison Chen will reportedly take the lead role in upcoming Hollywood blockbuster "The Grudge 2", the sequel to a remake of a popular Japanese horror film.
Several Hong Kong newspapers said the Canadian-born 25-year-old heartthrob will star alongside Sarah Michelle Gellar from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", who also appeared in the first film, and Jennifer Beals.
"The Grudge 2" will be directed by Takashi Shimizu, who helmed the Japanese original "Ju-On" and the first English "Grudge".
The Oriental Daily News reported that Shimizu cast Chen after being impressed with his performance in Hong Kong smash hit "Initial D".
Filming reportedly will be begin in Japan next month.
April 7th, 2006, 06:40 AM
Crime pays for Hong Kong's "Godfather" director Johnnie To
HONG KONG, April 6, 2006 (AFP) - For someone so closely linked to Hong Kong's ultra-violent action-drama movie genre, internationally acclaimed director Johnnie To cuts a remarkably sedate figure.
In scholarly rimless glasses, blue V-neck jumper and clean-cut hairstyle, To gives away little of the tough, deprived upbringing that informs films so stark and brutal they have been called the Chinese "Godfather" series.
But scratch the surface a little and the dark shadows that lurk in the imagination that created "Election 2", his latest gripping gangster drama which premiered this week, come to the surface.
"The most memorable thing about the place was the darkness everywhere," 51-year-old To, a darling of film festivals from Venice to Cannes, recalls of his childhood in the notorious Kowloon Walled City.
The decrepit tenement block was a semi-lawless Chinese-controlled enclave in the heart of urban British-ruled Hong Kong until 1994, a seedy dead-end where triads, drug addicts, pushers and prostitutes roamed free.
"During heavy rain, the water would reach up to our bed and all the dead rats would float to the surface in the flat," says To.
"There were a lot of little interesting details inside. We always saw the druggies lying dead on the narrow cobbled streets. Their bodies were often left there for one or two days until someone came and collected them.
"No one cared about them. Human lives did not matter in there, perhaps that's because people were poor," he recalls.
To has evoked the enclave's depravity and his other childhood experiences of the underworld in some of the city's best-known gritty crime thrillers in the past two decades, such as "Running Out of Time" and "Full-Time Killer".
Although he found early fame with comedies after starting out in the industry almost by accident, his forte was action set within the dark double-crossing world of Hong Kong infamous triad gangsters.
To believes the feared underworld mobsters represent an important part of Hong Kong's history. No matter how taboo the subject, their existence is undeniable, he says.
"No matter where we moved to, there was always going to be a lot of triad members around. I was probably influenced by this while I was growing up," he says while puffing on a cigar.
"There are so many different types of characters in the triads. That's why I choose to make films about them. They are like heroes; they have their regrets, there is life and death, brotherhood and friendship."
To's sequel to the popular "Election" movie, which competed at Cannes last year, takes his fascination with Hong Kong's underworld to its next logical step and explores how the triads cope under the iron rule of a Chinese regime that regained control of the city in 1997.
"That was a very key date for Hong Kong; it's a period that has a very important historic value. After 1997, Hong Kong people were at a loss," To says. "It was the same for the triads; what will their future hold? No one knows."
Such was the popularity of the first "Election" movie that tickets for the premiere on Tuesday of "Election 2" at the Hong Kong International Film Festival sold out within two hours.
-- 'You can only do such films in Hong Kong' --
The son of a builder and a factory worker and with 48 movies to his name, filmmaking was not what the young To expected of himself and he received no formal training.
At 17, he was only looking for a "nice" and well-paid job when he signed up for an acting class at a local television company, hoping he could find work behind the scenes.
He got into television production in the early 1970s and directed his first feature film in 1979 with martial arts thriller "Enigmatic Case". He set up his film production company Milkyway Image in 1996.
"It took time and filmmaking slowly grew on me, then I realised how important it is to me," he says.
To's films also won an international following. His superhero action fantasy, "The Heroic Trio" and its sequel "Executioners", were cult classics and inspired French director Olivier Assayas's "Irma Vep".
Many of his movies were openly commercial successes, especially his early comedies.
But To sees humour as "just a way to balance investors' confidence in the company", and says his passion remains the action-drama genre, which he says gives him the room for creativity, given full reign on such films as his 1999 crime thriller "The Mission" and "PTU" in 2003.
"Sometimes I really don't care whether the audience wants to see them. I don't care about the bosses. As long as I am given this budget, they shouldn't ask and care what I'm going to do with it. If they are okay with it, then it's okay with me," To says.
The director says he is not in a hurry for Hollywood prestige, although he claims to have received many offers.
Neither is he likely to look north to Beijing for fame, as many of his contemporaries have, for fear he will fall foul of communist censors.
"I would not compromise on the major principles. If you change 'Election' to suit China's regulations, you would not be allowed to call the characters triads and you would have to change most of the characters. That wouldn't work," he says.
"You can only do such films in Hong Kong. But do you believe the China audience would see it? I believe they would."
April 7th, 2006, 06:40 AM
Martial arts epic fights musical romance at Hong Kong film awards
HONG KONG, April 6, 2006 (AFP) - Tsui Hark's martial arts epic "Seven Swords" faces fierce competition from Peter Chan Ho-sun's musical "Perhaps Love" at the territory's star-studded film awards on Saturday.
The two movies garnered 11 nominations each in top categories, including best film and best director, for the 25th Hong Kong Film Awards to be held before an audience of 6,000 at the Hong Kong Coliseum.
Stars including Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi and Korea's Jun Ji-hyun of hit movie "My Sassy Girl" are expected to walk the red carpet at the ceremony.
Switching between 1930s and modern-day China, "Perhaps Love" was the first Chinese musical made in 40 years, while "Seven Swords" was a box-office smash on the mainland.
Johnnie To's gangster flick "Election", and Andrew Lau and Alan Mak's car racing movie "Initial D" follow close behind with 10 nods each, also competing for the best film and director prizes.
"Initial D", an adaptation from Japanese comics, stars Taiwanese pop sensation Jay Chou who picked up a nomination for best new performer.
Action hero Jackie Chan's "The Myth", received four nominations including best film, while Derek Yee has been nominated in the best director category for "2 Young".
Tony Leung Ka-fai, who was given a suspended jail term for drink-driving in January, won two nominations, one in the best actor category for his fiery-tempered mobster role in "Election" and the other for his portrayal of a photographer in Stanley Kwan's "Everlasting Regret".
"Everlasting Regret", based on Wang Anyi's multi-award winning novel of the same name, was in competition in last year's Venice Film Festival and has six nominations for the Hong Kong awards.
Leung, who lost out in the best actor prize to "Divergence" star Aaron Kwok in last November's Taiwanese Golden Horse Film Awards, comes up against him again in the same category.
Leung is also vying with his fellow actor in "Election", Simon Yam, and "Wait 'Til You're Older" star Andy Lau for the category.
Chinese starlet Zhou Xun has been nominated in the best actress category for her role in "Perhaps Love", alongside Sylvia Chang in "Rice Rhapsody", Sammi Cheng in "Everlasting Regret", Karen Mok in "Wait 'Til You're Older" and "Home Sweet Home" star Karena Lam.
Martial arts fantasy epic "The Promise" by Chen Kaige picked up five nominations for its cinematography, art direction, costume and make-up design, as well as sound design and visual effects.
"The Promise" is China's biggest-budget movie, costing 40 million US dollars to make.
Peter Kam, who won the Silver Bear for best music for "Isabella" at this year's Berlin Film Festival, received a nomination for best original film score with co-composer Leon Ko for "Perhaps Love".
Although not as prestigious as the Golden Horse Awards, the Hong Kong Film Awards are considered among Chinese cinema's top accolades. Films must meet one of several criteria establishing a strong Hong Kong connection to be eligible.
April 7th, 2006, 12:49 PM
Didn't HK made alot of martial arts movies back in the 1980s? OK they still make them but not as strong as it used to be.
April 7th, 2006, 05:08 PM
Hong Kong actress Maggie Q learns mission impossible
KUALA LUMPUR, April 7, 2006 (AFP) - Hong Kong actress Maggie Q says working on Tom Cruise's upcoming movie "Mission Impossible III" has taught her combat skills -- including how to rescue a hostage.
"This is not a kung fu movie where I have to spend a lot of time kicking and punching. This is Mission Impossible so I was trained by hostage negotiators and military experts -- people who actually did this for a living," the 26-year-old model-turned-actress told Malaysia's Star daily.
"It was no joke. What I did in the film is real. I actually know how to rescue a hostage now. It was unbelievable and pretty surreal. That was the part that made me nervous," she added.
The Honolulu-born actress, whose full name is Maggie Quigley, said working with Hollywood heavyweight Cruise was a doddle in comparison.
"Tom was a sweetheart compared to these military guys who killed people for a living," she said, adding that she has now developed a taste for action.
"I like being a tough girl. I like whacking people," she told the paper.
In the movie directed by J.J. Abrams, Quigley is part of the crack Mission Impossible team alongside Cruise, Ving Rhames and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Recent Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the villain.
Born to an American father and a Vietnamese mother, Quigley has previously had brief roles in "Rush Hour 2" and "Around the World in 80 Days" with Hong Kong action hero Jackie Chan.
April 7th, 2006, 05:10 PM
Didn't HK made alot of martial arts movies back in the 1980s? OK they still make them but not as strong as it used to be.
They still do, but the variety has increased to different genres as well. However, action movies are a significant branding for Hong Kong movies abroad (ie. Jackie Chan).
April 8th, 2006, 09:25 AM
Stars gather for Hong Kong's premier film awards
HONG KONG, April 8, 2006 (AFP) - Leading Chinese stars will gather in Hong Kong Saturday for the territory's premier film awards ceremony, where 19 gongs will be handed out to the city's best movies of the year.
Celebrities including action hero Jackie Chan, and heart-throbs Andy Lau and Tony Leung Chiu-wai are expected to walk the red carpet for the 25th Hong Kong Film Awards, to be held before an audience of 6,000 at the Hong Kong Coliseum.
Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi, Korea's Jun Ji-hyun of the hit movie "My Sassy Girl" and Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien are also expected at the ceremony that kicks off at 7:30 pm (1130 GMT).
However, Tony Leung Ka-fai and Sammi Cheng, tipped as favourites to win the best actor and the best actress prizes, will be unable to attend, organisers said.
The star-studded ceremony will see Tsui Hark's martial arts epic "Seven Swords" do battle with Peter Chan Ho-sun's musical "Perhaps Love" for top honours.
Each garnered 11 nominations in the top categories, including best film and best director.
Johnnie To's gangster flick "Election", and Andrew Lau and Alan Mak's car racing movie "Initial D" follow close behind with 10 nods each, and are also competing for the best film and director prizes.
Taiwanese pop sensation Jay Chou picked up a nomination for best new performer for his role in "Initial D".
Chan's "The Myth" received four nominations including best film, while Derek Yee has been nominated in the best director category for "2 Young".
Tony Leung Ka-fai won two nominations in the best actor category for his roles in "Election" and Stanley Kwan's "Everlasting Regret".
Leung, who lost out to "Divergence" star Aaron Kwok for top acting honours in last November's Taiwanese Golden Horse Film Awards, comes up against him again in the same category.
Leung is also up against his "Election" co-star Simon Yam and "Wait 'Til You're Older" star Lau.
Chinese starlet Zhou Xun has been nominated in the best actress category for her role in "Perhaps Love", alongside Cheng, Sylvia Chang in "Rice Rhapsody", Karen Mok in "Wait 'Til You're Older" and "Home Sweet Home" star Karena Lam.
Chen Kaige's 40-million-dollar martial arts fantasy epic "The Promise" picked up five nominations including nods for best cinematography and art direction.
Peter Kam, who won the Silver Bear for best music for "Isabella" at this year's Berlin Film Festival, received a nomination for best original film score with co-composer Leon Ko for "Perhaps Love".
Although not as prestigious as the Golden Horse Awards, the Hong Kong Film Awards are considered among Chinese cinema's top accolades. Films must meet one of several criteria establishing a strong Hong Kong connection to be eligible.
April 8th, 2006, 09:25 AM
Kung fu epic, gangster tale compete for best movie prize at Hong Kong Film Awards
By MIN LEE
AP Entertainment Writer
7 April 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - The contenders for the best film prize at Saturday's 25th Hong Kong Film Awards include the martial arts epic "Seven Swords," the gangster movie "Election," Jackie Chan's "The Myth" and "Initial D" -- a car racing movie starring Taiwanese pop idol Jay Chou.
The annual ceremony is one of the Chinese-language film industry's most celebrated events and the audience was expected to be full of stars from across Asia.
Veteran director Tsui Hark hoped to win best film for his "Seven Swords," a story about seven martial arts fighters defending a village.
Action mega star Jackie Chan's "The Myth" is about a reincarnated ancient general who pursues his lost love from a previous life. It's competing against the Broadway-style musical "Perhaps Love" and director Johnnie To's "Election," about a power struggle within the shadowy world of Hong Kong's mobsters, or triads.
The movie "Initial D" -- based on a Japanese comic about street car racers -- attracted a lot of attention for featuring Taiwanese singer Chou in his first film role. He's nominated in the best new performer category.
Other singers hoped to be recognized for their acting talents Saturday night. They included Hong Kong diva Sammi Cheng, nominated for best actress for her breakthrough performance in "Everlasting Regret." She plays a beautiful Shanghai woman who endures a turbulent love life amid the political upheaval of modern China.
Another favorite to win best actress was mainland Chinese performer Zhou Xun, who played a movie star caught between her present and past loves in "Perhaps Love."
Hong Kong pop star Karen Mok was also nominated for her portrayal of a mother in "Wait 'Til You're Older," and Taiwan's Sylvia Chang hopes to be recognized for her role as a cook in "Rice Rhapsody."
Hong Kong heart throb Andy Lau was up for the best actor award for his performance in "Wait 'Til You're Older." He played an unhappy child who is transformed into an adult with the help of a magical potion.
His competition includes Hong Kongers Tony Leung Ka-fai and Simon Yam, who portrayed rival gangsters in "Election." Leung was also nominated for "Everlasting Regret," in which he plays a man with a crush on a lifelong friend.
The best director nominees include Tsui for "Seven Swords." He's competing against "Election" director To and Peter Chan, who directed "Perhaps Love."
Movies nominated for the best Asian film prize include China's "Ke Ke Xi Li," Japan's "Howl's Moving Castle," Taiwan's "Three Times," South Korea's "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance" and Japan's "Be With You."
On the Net:
Hong Kong Film Awards: http://www.hkfaa.com
April 8th, 2006, 06:02 PM
Winners at the 25th Hong Kong Film Awards
By The Associated Press
8 April 2006
Winners in the top categories for the 25th Hong Kong Film Awards ceremony on Saturday:
Best Film: "Election"
Best Director: Johnnie To ("Election")
Best Actor: Tony Leung ("Election")
Best Actress: Zhou Xun ("Perhaps Love").
Best Supporting Actor: Anthony Wong ("Initial D").
Best Supporting Actress: Teresa Mo ("2 Young").
Best New Performer: Jay Chou ("Initial D").
Best New Director: Kenneth Bi ("Rice Rhapsody").
Best Asian Film: "Ke Ke Xi Li" (China).
Best Cinematography: Peter Pau ("Perhaps Love").
April 8th, 2006, 06:03 PM
Gangster movie "Election" wins best film at 25th Hong Kong Film Awards
By MIN LEE
8 April 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - "Election," a dark and violent tale about gangsters, was the big winner Saturday at the Hong Kong Film Awards, taking home the prizes for best movie, director and actor.
Johnnie To got the top honors for directing, while Tony Leung won best actor for his portrayal of a hotheaded mobster angry about how the leaders of his gang have been chosen.
The best actress award went to Zhou Xun of mainland China. She played a movie star caught between her present and past loves in the Broadway-style musical "Perhaps Love."
Hong Kong's Teresa Mo was named best supporting actress for her performance in "2 Young," about a teenage couple dealing with an unexpected pregnancy.
Anthony Wong of Hong Kong was named best supporting actor for his role in "Initial D," a movie based on a Japanese comic about street car racing.
Wong won the same award last year at Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards -- the Chinese-language equivalent of the Oscars.
Taiwanese pop idol Jay Chou was named best new performer for his leading role in "Initial D."
Chou, famous for his soulful ballads, said his success for his role as a street car racer in "Initial D" won't cause him to walk away from his singing career.
"I'll still focus on music. This is what I'm best at," Chou said as he accepted his award.
He also won the best newcomer prize for the same film last year at the Golden Horse Awards.
China's "Ke Ke Xi Li" won the top Asian movie honors. The film is about volunteers protecting the Tibetan antelope from ruthless poachers in remote western China. The movie, directed by Lu Chuan, won the best film award in 2004 at the Golden Horse Awards.
Other nominees Saturday for best Asian film were Japan's "Howl's Moving Castle," Taiwan's "Three Times," South Korea's "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance" and Japan's "Be With You."
The best new director award on Saturday went to Kenneth Bi for "Rice Rhapsody" about dueling chefs.
Peter Pau won the prize for best cinematography for "Perhaps Love," a Broadway-style musical.
April 9th, 2006, 06:54 PM
Film festival could use some help in promotion
9 April 2006
South China Morning Post
Last night's film awards are a reminder that the industry has been instrumental in promoting Hong Kong's claim to be a world city. It remains one of the few film-making centres in the world with its biggest box office sales overseas.
The awards coincide with the 30th Hong Kong International Film Festival, still one of the most anticipated events for Asian filmmakers and local movie buffs.
However, these showcases do not hide the slump in the local film industry. Sadly, this is undermining the Hong Kong festival's role in promoting our best movies. Its standing in the region is under challenge, with rivals jostling to take over as Asia's premier star-studded event.
The festival organisers say it is disadvantaged because they cannot match the financial incentives other Asian centres offer filmmakers and international critics to take part in their festivals. From the $7 million grant they receive from the Hong Kong government to help put the festival on, they can spare only $700,000 for hospitality for visitors.
As we report today the organisers are looking to the Hong Kong Tourism Board for more support for the costs of inviting film-makers and overseas guests. They claim the Tourism Board devotes all its attention to Disneyland and the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens and ignores local events as a means to attract overseas visitors.
Disneyland and the Sevens, along with Ocean Park, are major drawcards in their own right for large numbers of overseas visitors who contribute significantly to the city's economy. The Tourism Board is right to ensure their appeal gets the broadest exposure.
But there is more to this than backing sure winners. Culturally, Disney and the Sevens are foreign imports with global brand names, whereas the film festival showcases a cultural export for which Hong Kong is famous. Festival executive director Peter Tsi Ka-kei's appeal for more help from the Tourism Board with overseas promotion and hospitality funding may win some sympathy. This year organisers could only afford to invite about 90 people from overseas, compared with the thousands of guests, critics and journalists invited to the festival in Pusan, South Korea.
Our film industry still has a key role to play in positioning Hong Kong as an international city with a thriving cultural industry to drive economic growth.
Film is our main cultural export to the rest of the world. Hong Kong techniques still inspire filmmakers from Hollywood to Mumbai. Our directors, actors and cinematographers are in demand overseas.
The government already supports the industry with measures to combat piracy and assistance to filmmakers.
The festival is one of the most effective ways to promote our movies. The few million extra it would cost to invite a few hundred visitors instead of less than 100 could be a good investment.
April 12th, 2006, 05:56 AM
Hong Kong actor Chen filming 'The Grudge' sequel with Sarah Michelle Gellar
11 April 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong actor-singer Edison Chen on Wednesday confirmed recent reports that he is making his Hollywood debut in the sequel to the horror film "The Grudge," also featuring Sarah Michelle Gellar of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fame.
"In the fourth week of filming my first Hollywood movie," Chen wrote in a posting on his blog Wednesday. "I have returned to Tokyo. It is exciting this week. I got some crazy scenes to do in the movie. Yep, I am doing 'The Grudge' part two."
"I am thinking I got something good here," Chen said, noting "The Grudge" made US$178 million (euro147.05 million) in the U.S. and over US$200 million (euro165.22 million) worldwide.
Chen's film credits include the "Infernal Affairs" trilogy and "Initial D."
On the Net:
Edison Chen's blog:
April 13th, 2006, 05:17 PM
Jackie Chan says working with babies in new movie was frustrating
11 April 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Jackie Chan says working with babies in his new action comedy "Rob-B-Hood" was a frustrating experience.
"I saw babies every day, how noisy they were. If one cried, then one, two, three, four, they would all cry," Chan said at a press conference for the Chinese-language movie in Beijing on Tuesday.
A transcript of the press conference was posted on the Chinese news Web site Sina.com Wednesday.
Chan, who appeared at a news conference with a baby girl who's in the movie, said baby moods were unpredictable.
"It's hardest to get a girl to smile. She just doesn't smile. She looks at the people manning the cameras like they're idiots. She would smile right after we run out of film," Chan said of the baby girl.
"Once she sees the set she cries," he said.
"Rob-B-Hood" is reportedly about gangsters who kidnap a baby.
Chan said "Rob-B-Hood" is the latest in a recent trio of films in which he tackles genres unconventional to him -- in this case a "very happy, very heartwarming" film. The other two are "New Police Story," in which Chan plays a tragic hero, and "The Myth," a mythology epic that tracks the journey of a man who seeks his lost love from a previous life.
"I've been telling myself these past few years I need to change," he said.
April 16th, 2006, 08:51 AM
Armchair film critics challenged to do better
16 April 2006
South China Morning Post
Organisers of the Hong Kong International Film Festival are daring anyone who has ever criticised a film to make their own and then let international critics be the judge.
Festival chief executive Peter Tsi Ka-kei issued the dare as he told the Sunday Morning Post a new category of submissions from young people with no film experience would be accepted in next year's lineup.
The as yet unnamed short-film category - intended to help cultivate new talent for the local film industry - is an expansion of the Fresh Wave short film competition introduced this year.
"This year we had the Fresh Wave competition for university students. But I don't think the privilege should be reserved for university film majors only. We want to open it up," he said.
"People complain about why bad films are shown. Don't just talk. Do something about it. If you think you can do better, show us. It's cheap enough to make a short digital film."
Mr Tsi said any young person could try their hand at filmmaking after paying an entry fee of a few hundred dollars. The film could be about any subject so long it is less than 30 minutes long and has English subtitles if the soundtrack is not in English.
Director Abe Kwong Man-wai said: "Most young people don't want to work hard, nor do they want to start from scratch. If they expect to become stars right away, I can say that their chances of making it are very slim. It's like winning the Mark Six - it's possible, but not likely."
The Fresh Wave short film competition this year showcased entries from eight universities and film schools for the best short film and the most creative film awards. Shortlisted entries are being screened at the film festival, which ends on Wednesday.
Wasted, entered by a group of students from the Academy of Performing Arts, won the top prize.
April 18th, 2006, 01:57 PM
BTW, aren't there some triad involvement in some of HK's film industry?
April 25th, 2006, 01:10 AM
Reviving local film's Golden Age
Hong Kong Standard
Monday, April 24, 2006
Famed movie director Tsui Siu-ming seems to be getting in on the financial and creative action at just the right time.
Hong Kong filmmaking took a nose dive during and after the Asian financial crisis, but Tsui says he can turn around the decline in filmmaking and restore the glory days of its golden era in just two years.
Tsui, president of Sundream Motion Pictures, a production company launched in March 2003, plans to make in- house movie production - the crafting of a film almost exclusively from start to finish-- a hallmark of Hong Kong moviemaking.
The first thing Tsui's public relations manager, James Chick, shows off before the interview is the office of i-Cable Satellite Television, where Tsui wears his second hat as chief operating officer.
This is Tsui's attempt to develop the first Rupert Murdoch-type institution for making, marketing and distributing major motion pictures in a territory that used to be the pinnacle of the industry but has seen a total slump in the past 10 years.
The industry famous for producing about 200 films a year in the 1970s and 80s only managed about 90 a year in the late 90s due to the Asian financial crisis. Moviegoers could not afford to visit theaters. Producers refused to back risky ideas and did not financially support a movie unless it promised a big profit. So movies started to decline in quality as the industry became mired in stereotypes.
It was not until January 2004 that Hong Kong moviemakers saw the potential to lift the industry out of its morass.
When the SAR and mainland governments signed the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement in that year, Hong Kong directors working in China earned the "domestic" trademark. They now no longer take on seven mainland talents for every three Hong Kong ones. The ratio is now 5:5. And propagandistic nationalist mainland topics are no longer the focus.
Big problem. That near-10 year gap in movie production left Hong Kong woefully lacking in gifted writers, costumers, cinematographers and willing directors.
Hong Kong's movie moguls are obsessed with finding the next Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Seven Swords, says Tsui, who counts the latter's director Tsui Hark and star Jet Li, as close friends.
But instead of blockbusters, Tsui Siu-ming wants small and medium- sized films from young and independently minded creators. He wants to grow an idea and to do it in the same office, together.
Tsui plans to produce an expected 15 films in two years. To do that, he has joined i-Cable Satellite Television, arguing that satellite will launch the careers of future great names in Hong Kong movies at a cheaper price and to wider North American, European and mainland audiences.
Tsui sits at a table in his velvet- paneled screening room in Cable TV Tower in Tsuen Wan, flipping through PDA e-mails while Jeffrey Chick, his translator, explains what makes Tsui so special.
Back in the 1980s, when tensions between China and Taiwan were at a high, Tsui directed two films, The Holy Robe of Shaolin Temple and Mirage, despite the risk of damaging his relations with Taiwan. Because of the sensitive political climate, the Taiwanese told Tsui they "would ban him forever" from visiting the island.
"I love China, and I love movies," Tsui interjects in English, when asked why he wanted to risk losing out on a career that could span to Taiwan, a famous destination for moviemakers. He smiles, arranges his tie and nods.
He understands, Chick says, but Tsui is in the vanguard. He knows where to go to find something successful.
And six years later, buoyed by a surging domestic film industry and desperate to tap into what proved to be a growing market in China, the Taiwanese invited Tsui to speak about his role in breaking through the regulatory walls created in post-Mao China.
"It was a brave thing," Tsui says. His cherubic cheeks puff out in a smile.
He no longer resembles the guy who orchestrated the kung fu moves in several 1980s movies. Instead, wearing glasses, he looks more like a pudgy academic.
Learning from that experience, Tsui decided two years ago that Hong Kong must nurture its young talent as there was no one yet willing or able to fill the shoes of former television actors-turned movie stars such as Tony Leung, Andy Lau and Maggie Cheung, all of whom feature in internationally released movies. Lau has just signed on to act in his first film for Sundream, A Battle of Wits.
He and his peers all learned how to act in small television studios in a close community of equals who shared a vision, who communicated their ideas together and who grew in a cohesive, harmonious environment.
Only two years into CEPA, Hong Kong still draws excessively on China's film world for writers, costume designers and directors.
Tsui believes that producers and actors in the Hong Kong movie industry focus on profit and big budgets.
"Movies now are not realistic. They use gimmicks to make a story, they don't think of core elements," Tsui says.
China does a much better job in producing the young talent that makes it into great films, he says. "We need to follow their trend to get into the market."
In the 1970s, when Bruce Lee went international with kung fu, and the late 80s in movies such as Sun, Moon and Star, and Island of Greed, a 1997 film starring Leung and directed by Michael Mak, who works with Tsui, Hong Kong movies actually made it big in the world.
Tsui thinks that tradition can be revived, but that ideas have to start small and must focus on local industry players.
Working with a team of 15 creative workers, Sundream plans to pour US$400 million (HK$3.12 billion) into small and medium-sized Hong Kong films - some with international backing - in the next three years.
Fist of Love, a new movie set to begin filming on location in April, already has a US$16 million price tag.
Its executive producer, Mak, who brought to Hong Kong the Asian version of the US television hit Charlie's Angels, says people have to adjust their perceptions of what a good film is to something beyond movies such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
"We cannot just stick with this kind of topic," Mak says.
But life has not been easy.
During a meeting in late March a brainstorming session on new movie ideas came up short.
"We cannot find one you need to film," Mak says. "Different companies [already] produce a certain kind of movie."
Mak, who used to work for Rupert Murdoch's son James says he heard one piece of advice that still makes sense to him.
"I always remember one sentence from James Murdoch: `Where is the money?"' Mak says.
"Because making movies is a business.
The key now is to make small movies. The smaller, the better.
Make a trailer, put it on satellite, and snap!
"The budget is so low, it's a success," Mak says.
April 25th, 2006, 06:16 AM
Hong Kong Films Featured in the San Francisco International Film Festival
Government Press Release
Monday, April 24, 2006
(From left) Andy Lau, leading actor in "All About Love"; Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in San Francisco, Ms Doris Cheung; Daniel Yu, director of "All About Love"; and Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society, Mr Graham Leggat, attending the reception in San Francisco on April 23 celebrating the screening of "All About Love" in the 49th San Francisco International Film Festival.
(From left) Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in San Francisco, Ms Doris Cheung; Peter Chan, director of "Perhaps Love"; Mrs Andre Morgan; Mr Andre Morgan, producer of "Perhaps Love"; and Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society, Mr Graham Leggat, attending the reception in San Francisco on April 20 celebrating the screening of "Perhaps Love" as the opening night film of the 49th San Francisco International Film Festival.
The award-winning Hong Kong film "Perhaps Love" launched the 49th San Francisco International Film Festival on April 20 (San Francisco time).
For the first time in the San Francisco International Film Festival's 49-year history, a Hong Kong film was selected as the opening night film. "Perhaps Love," a heartfelt love story told through a kaleidoscope of flashbacks and the plot of film-within-a-film, is directed by the highly acclaimed film director Peter Chan.
Another Hong Kong film "All About Love" is also featured in the festival. Starring Andy Lau, the melodrama is the latest work of film director Daniel Yu and will be screened on April 23 and 26.
Delighted to see Hong Kong films receiving high commendations in the San Francisco International Film Festival, Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in San Francisco Ms Doris Cheung said this was not just a recognition of the outstanding work of Director Chan and Director Yu, but was also an honor for the Hong Kong film industry as a whole.
"Hong Kong has a long history of film-making. With our historical background which makes Hong Kong the meeting point for Eastern and Western culture, and our emphasis on free flow of information and talents, Hong Kong has been the place for creativity and movie production," she said.
Ms Cheung also highlighted the various benefits the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) could bring for Hong Kong film-making companies and how foreign companies could leverage on Hong Kong to enjoy such benefits. "Under our partnership arrangement with Mainland China, Chinese language films produced by Hong Kong companies can enjoy a quota-free access to the China market," Ms Cheung said. She added that Hong Kong's film industry was a flagship of Hong Kong's creative industry and the Hong Kong Government was dedicated to building a favorable environment for the industry to flourish.
Celebrating the recognition of Hong Kong films in the San Francisco International Film Festival, the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in San Francisco hosted receptions before the screening of both Hong Kong films, with the participation of directors Peter Chan and Daniel Yu as well as actor Andy Lau.
The 49th San Francisco International Film Festival runs from April 20 to May 4. Bringing together some 95,000 film-makers, industry representatives, journalists and film lovers, the festival features some 200 films representing 50 countries.
May 23rd, 2006, 09:18 PM
Jackie Chan says his underwear and socks off-limits to fans: report
4 May 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Jackie Chan was happy to give his clothing and shoes to his fans as lucky draw presents, but said his underwear and socks were strictly off-limits, a newspaper reported Thursday.
Chan agreed to fans' demands to have his clothing, shoes, and mobile phone during a fan club party attended by over 300 admirers from 20 different countries on Wednesday, Hong Kong's Oriental Daily News reported.
But the action star refused demands for his underwear and socks. "You could ask for anything except these two things. So disgusting!" Chan reportedly said.
Chan also said he has been battling with an injury to his right shoulder, which he hurt when exercising, the paper said.
"Now the bone sticks out. I tried to throw myself against a wall to push it back but it doesn't really work," he was quoted as saying. "I thought I should muster up courage to have it operated on, but I am really scared of injections. I have to persuade myself first," he said.
May 23rd, 2006, 09:19 PM
Wong Kar-Wai rewarded for evocative Hong Kong films
CANNES, France, May 21, 2006 (AFP) - Chinese director Wong Kar-Wai, who heads up this year's jury at the Cannes Film Festival, was Sunday handed France's top civilian award for capturing the sights and sounds of Hong Kong on film.
"Your genius has lit up screens the world over with the colours, perfumes, sounds and emotions of Hong Kong"," Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres told Wong as he made him a Knight of the Legion of Honour.
"You have invented a new cinema, a new way of writing in ink and light which have overturned the public emotions and lit the way for a whole new generation of filmmakers," the minister added.
The ceremony was attended by other jury members including Tim Roth, Elia Suleiman, Samuel L. Jackson and French actor Patrice Leconte.
Wong, who won the best director prize here in 1997 with "Happy Together" was clearly moved by the award, saying he was very flattered by the honour that France had bestowed on him.
"I will never forget this moment of joy and emotion," he added, also thanking the French public for their support.
May 23rd, 2006, 09:20 PM
Hong Kong director plans movie set during Nanking Massacre, Hollywood producer reportedly plans another
By MIN LEE
AP Entertainment Writer
21 May 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong director Stanley Tong said Sunday he has secured financing for a movie set during the Nanking Massacre, the mass killing in the eastern Chinese city now known as Nanjing during Japan's World War II-era invasion.
Separately, the South China Morning Post weekly magazine reported Sunday that William J. Macdonald, co-creator and executive producer of the HBO TV series "Rome," is planning another film that addresses the massacre head-on.
The films could influence already tense Sino-Japanese relations because of their sensitive content.
Many Chinese are still upset over the Japanese atrocities and believe Japan's government hasn't sufficiently atoned for them. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has angered China by repeatedly visiting Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors Japan's war dead, including convicted war criminals.
Director Tong said he has found financial backers in Germany, the U.S., China and Hong Kong, as well as Japan, for the film, with a budget of at least US$35 million (euro27 million) -- big by Chinese standards.
Tong said the film, tentatively called "Diary," won't focus on the atrocities in Nanjing, although its events will take place during the same period as the killings.
"The main thrust of the story is events during that time in Nanjing, but it may not necessarily be the massacre," he told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
"It's about the memories of a lot of people," said Tong, whose credits include "Rumble in the Bronx," starring Jackie Chan, the Hollywood film "Mr. Magoo" and the U.S. TV series "Martial Law."
Meanwhile, Macdonald's movie starts in a Tokyo courtroom where a Japanese general Iwane Matsui stands trial, then flashes back to the story of a Chinese family who live in Nanjing during the killings, the Post's magazine reported.
Macdonald's film is reportedly a joint production with a Chinese company, the Jiangsu Culture Industry Group. The producer's credits include "The Saint," "Jade" and "Sliver."
Mention of the Nanking Massacre in both Tong's and Macdonald's movies will subject them to intense scrutiny.
China says up to 300,000 people were killed in Nanjing during a rampage of murder, rape and looting by Japanese troops in 1937.
Japan avoids giving death toll estimates, while conservative lawmakers and academics still try to whitewash the event.
The films are likely to be carefully examined by China's censors with an eye toward its implications on Sino-Japanese ties.
Earlier this year, the Beijing government canceled the release in China of "Memoirs of a Geisha" amid speculation that officials were worried that the sight of ethnic Chinese actresses playing Japanese geishas -- woman trained in conversation and dance -- would stir a backlash.
In a flare-up of anti-Japanese sentiment in China in April last year, demonstrators vandalized Japanese-related shops and smashed windows at Japanese diplomatic offices in Shanghai and Beijing to protest the downplaying of wartime atrocities in Japanese textbooks.
Tong said he hasn't finalized the movie's cast or when filming will begin.
A number for Macdonald wasn't immediately available.
May 23rd, 2006, 09:25 PM
Love triangle draws Woo back to Hong Kong
23 May 2006
After a decade spent making his name in Hollywood as a master stylist of the action film, Hong Kong director John Woo plans to mark his return to Chinese-language cinema by producing a tale of a love triangle.
According to news reports in Hong Kong, the film is set to star Chang Chen, Shu Qi and Daniel Wu, and will have a budget of HK$47m (Ł3.2m). Taiwanese music video director Chen Yi-li will direct, and shooting will start in September. The title - which would surely cause anxiety in Hollywood, where Michael Cimino's megabudget flop of the same name remains a byword for cinematic follies - is Heaven's Gate.
John Woo patented his style of balletic violence in Hong Kong with such films as A Better Tomorrow and Once a Thief before answering the siren call of Hollywood in the early 90s, where he made Broken Arrow, Face/Off and Mission: Impossible II.
His return to Hong Kong may have been influenced by his faltering track record in the noughties, with such duds as Windtalkers, Hostage and Paycheck in recent years.
In addition to Heaven's Gate, Woo plans to direct the historical epic Battle of Red Cliff in China starting in March 2007.
May 24th, 2006, 11:39 AM
Didn't HK made alot of martial arts movies back in the 1980s? OK they still make them but not as strong as it used to be.
it seems from early 90's onwards now HK has been making alot of Gangstar/triad related movies or series
the likes of Young & Dangerous (6 parts w/another 6 movies revolving around other characters lives..12 movies in all
divergenace(a lil bit)
color of loyalty
infernal affairs trilogy..
last HK movie i saw was spl...any movie w/Donnie Yen is good...choreography is always well done...nice tp see Sammo Hung play a bad guy...Jet-li has Played a baddie before but you'll never see Jackie Chan do it...maybe in his early days though not sure
May 24th, 2006, 10:47 PM
Jackie Chan played a bad-guy in the Bruce Lee movie 'Enter the dragon' as one of the guards of the enemy. He played a very short role though, his role was also a bit humiliating. m))
May 25th, 2006, 02:02 AM
Everytime Hollywood depicts the future, Asians have simply disappeared or are subordinate background extras of the Western world in the future. There needs to be science fiction movies depicting Asians in the future. And I'm not talking personal stories like 2046. I'm talking epic drama and action. I don't know if Far East countries are into science fiction. The Japanese have anime but they tend to make the characters look phsyically neutral. Their live character science fiction tends to look cheap. I know some great computers effects are coming out of Asia on par with Hollywood. So I don't see a problem with quality special effects.
May 29th, 2006, 04:12 PM
Hong Kong action star set to lead in Japanese classic remake
HONG KONG, May 29, 2006 (AFP) - Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen is set to lead in the Hollywood remake of Japanese classic "The Seven Samurai", alongside George Clooney and Chinese starlet Zhang Ziyi, a film company said Monday.
Yen met with Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein during Cannes film festival to discuss the remake of the 1954 action film directed by Japanese master Akira Kurosawa.
Weinstein has invited Yen to play one of the seven sword heroes in the film, according to Mandarin Films, which represents the actor.
"Donnie has met Harvey Weinstein in Cannes to discuss the project," a spokeswoman for Mandarin Films told AFP. "We don't know more details as it is still at an early stage."
She said Weinstein has also invited Clooney and Zhang to lead the film. It is not clear how much the project will cost.
Yen, 43-year-old actor, director and action choreographer, has starred in over 40 films, including "Blade II", "Seven Swords" and Zhang Yimou's "Hero".
The Seven Samurai tells a story of seven Samurai heroes' who battle with 40 bandits who try to control and constantly attack a small village.
June 17th, 2006, 04:38 PM
Hong Kong films showcased at Sydney Film Festival
Friday, June 16, 2006
Government Press Release
Five block-buster Hong Kong movies will be featured in this year's Sydney Film Festival, providing Australian viewers with a fascinating glimpse of the extraordinary depth of Hong Kong's creative talent.
This is the third time the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Sydney (HKETO) has sponsored a Hong Kong segment in the Sydney Film Festival. At the reception in honour of the "Hong Kong Express" this evening (June 16, Sydney time), Director of the HKETO Mrs Jenny Wallis said that the Festival had provided a marvellous showcase for Hong Kong's film industry to demonstrate its vibrancy and innovative flair.
While the film industry might not be as prolific as it was in the past, Mrs Wallis said that Hong Kong still produced some 55 films last year. "More importantly, many of Hong Kong's actors, directors, cinematographers and producers have become household names, not just in Asia, but around the world. They are winning acclaim for their unique style, incisive direction and sometimes off-beat story lines," she said.
The Government was also playing its part, behind the scenes, to encourage the industry.
"We are promoting 'Hong Kong on location' as a film centre with the facilities, expertise and support for every movie occasion. We have established a Film Services Office, which streamlines procedures for location shooting, provides location scouting services, and makes land available for film production facilities." Mrs Wallis said.
"A Film Development Committee was appointed in November last year to advise the Government on all matters relating to the development of the film industry, and to promote Hong Kong films in Mainland China and overseas markets."
"Furthermore, there is a Film Development Fund to provide financial support to projects conducive to the healthy and long term development of the industry; as well as a Film Guarantee Fund to assist Hong Kong film production companies obtain loans from local lending institutions for film production."
The reception was followed by the screening of "Perhaps Love", a bitter-sweet musical, featuring an all-star pan-Asian cast, which has won six awards, including Best Actress at the recent Hong Kong Film Awards. The director of the film, Peter Chan Ho-sun, travelled from Hong Kong to join the Australian premiere of his film and shared an enthusiastic question and answer session with the audience at the end of the screening.
The five films featured in the festival this year are "Perhaps Love" directed by Peter Chan Ho-sun and starring Zhou Xun, Kaneshiro Takeshi, Jacky Cheung and Ji Jin Hee; "A Side, B Side, Seaside" directed by Chan Wing-chiu and starring Kong Ling and Larry Chan; "The Myth" directed by Stanley Tong Kwai-lai and starring Jackie Chan, Kim Hee Seon, Tony Leung Ka-fai and Mallika Sherawat; "McDull, The Alumni" directed by Samson Chiu and starring Ronald Cheng Chung-kei, Kelly Chan Wai-lam, Anthony Wong Chau-sang, Gigi Leung Wing-kay, Eric Tsang Chi-wai and Sandra Ng Kwan-yu; and "Fearless" directed by Ronny Yu Yan-tai and starring Jet Li Lianjie, Shidou Nakamura and Betty Sun.
June 25th, 2006, 10:24 PM
Hong Kong actor-singer Andy Lau denies rumors he's gay
By MIN LEE
25 June 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Veteran Hong Kong actor-singer Andy Lau has denied rumors that he's gay.
Asked by an interviewer on Hong Kong's TVB station whether he's a homosexual, Lau said, "I'm not, but if you say I am, I don't think it's a bad thing. Maybe my attitude has caused misunderstanding. I've never pronounced loudly I'm not gay, and I don't think there's the need to do so."
"I have gays friends," said Lau, 44, in the interview, carried in the current issue of the Ming Pao Weekly magazine on Sunday after being aired Saturday.
Asked about experiences with gays showing romantic interest in him, Lau said, "It's very direct. They're a very frank crowd."
Separately, Lau said he had auditioned for the Hollywood movies "M. Butterfly" and "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story" -- two films he ultimately didn't sign up for.
Lau has said he gave up "M. Butterfly" -- about a love affair between a Chinese transvestite and a French diplomat -- because he found a scene offensive.
"I asked the director if he could change that scene," said Lau. "I said I'm a superstar in Asia. This movie factors in the Asian market too. If I do that, it will affect my image."
The director refused.
"To them, I'm nothing," Lau said.
He said the lead role in "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story" went to Jason Scott Lee because he's a better fighter.
Asked if he still wants to pursue a career in the U.S., he said, "I don't think they have any roles to offer to Asian men ... It's not something I have a great desire to do. The reality is they rarely make movies with Chinese. I don't think they respect Chinese, unless I make a film directed by a Chinese director."
Lau is known as a fierce Chinese nationalist.
In the interview, he took issue with people who complain that he frequently performs in the traditional Chinese robe-like cheong sam.
"Some people say, 'he's singing in cheong sam again?' I think it's very annoying," Lau said. "What's wrong with cheong sam? I don't know if the people who say that are Chinese."
June 28th, 2006, 10:13 PM
Jackie Chan says he's bequeathed half of personal fortune to charity
By MARCO LUI
28 June 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Jackie Chan announced Wednesday he has bequeathed half of his fortune to charity, saying he looks up to philanthropists like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.
The exact amount involved, however, wasn't clear, because Chan declined to reveal his net worth.
Chan revealed the terms of his will when asked about tycoon Warren Buffett's recent US$37 billion (euro29.44 billion) dollar donation at a press conference on a tiger conservation campaign.
Buffett said he'd give away the bulk of his stock holdings in the company he runs, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., with five-sixths of the shares earmarked for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the fund set up by the Microsoft chairman and his wife.
"I admire the efforts by Buffett and Gates to help those in need a lot," Chan said.
"Like Buffett and Gates, I want to help people, but I don't have as much money as they do," he said.
The 52-year-old action star said the portion of his fortune reserved for charity would go to his own Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation, which was launched in 1988 to help needy Hong Kong youngsters but has since branched out into disaster relief, medical donations and supporting the performing arts.
The exact amount that the fund would receive remains unknown, because Chan refused to disclose his net worth.
Comparable stars make millions of U.S. dollars each year, according to estimates. Will Smith earned US$25 million (euro19.89 million) in the period from June 2005 to June 2006, and Jennifer Anniston made US$18 million (euro14.32 million), Forbes magazine has reported.
Chan's earnings may be lower because he primarily works out of Asia, where pay levels are generally lower in the entertainment industry.
A significant source of Chan's income comes from his Hollywood films like the "Rush Hour" series. The actor has said he can fund entire movies made in Hong Kong with his Hollywood paychecks. His last Hollywood film was "Around the World in 80 Days," released in 2004, but Chan is due to start filming "Rush Hour 3" late this summer.
Earlier this year, Forbes named Chan one of the world's 10 most generous celebrities.
As for the remaining 50 percent of his wealth, Chan said his wife may get 25 percent but the amount wasn't fixed. Chan also has a son, actor-singer Jaycee.
Wednesday's press conference aimed to raise awareness of the endangered South China tiger, which now numbers fewer than 100. Chan has filmed a video for the cause in which his face is painted in yellow and black stripes.
"Tigers are the king of animals and are very beautiful, Chan said Wednesday.
July 9th, 2006, 04:23 PM
Hong Kong director Lau says he's honored by Scorsese remake
By MIN LEE
9 July 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong director Andrew Lau said Sunday he's honored by Martin Scorsese's decision to remake his acclaimed crime thriller "Infernal Affairs."
"Infernal Affairs," starring Cannes best actor winner Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Andy Lau, is the story of a police officer who infiltrates a gang and an undercover mobster in the police force.
Scorsese's remake is named "The Departed" and features Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg.
Lau, who hasn't seen the remake, said he considered famed U.S. director Scorsese's decision an honor, and that he is hoping for the best about the remake.
"Of course I want it to be good," Lau said. "After all, its a remake of a local film. Its very rare for Hollywood to remake a Hong Kong film."
He declined farther comment, saying he wants to seen the Hollywood version of his film first.
It wasn't immediately clear when "The Departed" will be released. "Infernal Affairs" came out in 2002.
Lau made the comments after a news conference for his coming film, "Confession of Pain," which also has a police theme.
The Hong Kong-China-Japan co-production is budgeted at 80 million Hong Kong dollars (US$10.3 million; €8 million). Its star-studded lineup including Cannes winner Leung, Taiwanese sex symbol She Qi and Taiwanese-Japanese heartthrob Takeshi Kaneshiro.
Meanwhile, Lau has made his Hollywood debut with "The Flock," starring Richard Gere and Claire Danes.
He said he has finished filming the movie, which is in post-production and set for release in November.
Lau said filming in Hollywood isn't vastly different from shooting in Hong Kong, but he has more creative control in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is known for its flexible, sometimes chaotic filming schedule. Hollywood has a reputation for being more systematic.
"In Hong Kong, directors are the boss. They can do whatever they want. In Hollywood, producers, the studios are involved. There are a lot of things to keep you in check," Lau said.
"In Hong Kong, the investors won't hold meetings with you to air their views. In the U.S., they like to express their opinions," he said.
July 12th, 2006, 09:06 PM
Bonds raise $100m for movie firm Golden Harvest
Hong Kong Standard
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Golden Harvest Entertainment, a filmmaker and distributor, in which tycoon Li Ka-shing holds a minority stake, has raised HK$100 million through a bond sale to retire some loans, as well as financing investments in new cinemas and digital screen advertising business in China.
The exercise price of the convertible bonds, due in 2008, is HK$0.22 a share, or a 46 percent premium to Golden Harvest's Wednesday's closing stock price of HK$0.15.
The notes represent 454.54 million new Golden Harvest shares, which in turn would account for 24.23 percent of the company's enlarged issued share capital, the company said Wednesday.
Cheung Kong (Holdings) chairman Li will subscribe to 90.9 million new shares for HK$20 million, although his stake in Golden Harvest will be diluted from 16.73 percent to 16.71 percent.
Golden Harvest's executive chairman, Raymond Chow Ting-hsing, is also shelling out another HK$20 million, and will see his stake in the company slip to 20.47 percent from 22.03 percent.
Meanwhile, electronics manufacturer Hanny Holdings, controlled by tycoon Charles Chan Kwok-keung, will pay HK$50 million for 227.3 million new shares, giving Hanny a 12.11 percent stake. Hanny's stock price dropped 6.56 percent to HK$2.85 Wednesday after it announced its intention to invest in Golden Harvest.
The Golden Harvest group's principal activities include film exhibition in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and the mainland, as well as worldwide film distribution, film and television drama series production, video distribution and investment holding.
Cash raised through the sale of the new convertible bond will be used for new acquisitions and investments in new businesses that are complementary to existing ones.
About HK$50 million will be used to discharge current demand loans.
July 21st, 2006, 04:08 PM
Bruce Lee's family to tell kung fu movie legend's story
HONG KONG, July 21, 2006 (AFP) - Bruce Lee's family is set to tackle unspecified "fabricated or exaggerated" stories about the late kung fu legend by making a movie and publishing a book about him, his brother said.
"To this day, many stories about Bruce Lee continue to be told, many of which are fabricated or exaggerated," Robert Lee, president of the Bruce Lee Club, said in a statement.
"Today, as Bruce's brothers and sisters are getting older, and in order to help the public understand the real life of Bruce Lee, Robert has been appointed a very heavy responsibility from the family to clarify the legend of Bruce Lee," the statement added.
Lee said the film would be planned and produced by the family, with auditions for the lead role beginning soon.
Lee also said he had spent the past 10 years collecting information on Bruce Lee's life for a book, which is being edited and is to be published on November 27, the anniversary of Bruce Lee's birth.
The Lee family and mainland Chinese production company J.A. Media will jointly produce a series of other movies, TV shows and documentaries about the martial arts legend, he added.
Bruce Lee was born in the United States but his fame grew from Hong Kong where he made movies including "Fist of Fury" on his way to worldwide superstardom.
The actor, who died at the age of 32 on July 20, 1973, helped to popularise martial arts in the West and opened the door to Hollywood fame for other Asian stars such as Jackie Chan and Jet Li.
July 24th, 2006, 02:54 PM
Kin Plan to Produce Bruce Lee Bio-Pic
23 July 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Bruce Lee's family plans to produce a film on the late martial arts star, the first such movie it has actively supervised, the Chinese company making the motion picture said Sunday.
The film, which will be made by the Lee family and the Beijing Jian Yongjia film company, will be based on an upcoming biography of the late actor by Lee's brother, Lee Chun-fai, Beijing Jian Yongjia said in a statement.
"Bruce Lee died young, but stories about him haven't stopped surfacing for 30 years. A lot of them were rumors fed by rumors and exaggerated. Bruce Lee's family didn't make its opinions known because they understood people's passion about Bruce Lee," the statement said.
"As the members of the Lee family enter old age, to let people know the true story about Bruce Lee, Lee Chun-fai assumed responsibility and carefully organized materials kept by the family, writing the biography 'Bruce Lee,' a real and little-known true story," it said.
The book will debut on Nov. 25, Bruce Lee's birthday, and Beijing Jian Yongjia will produce a series of films, TV shows and documentaries based on it, including a movie titled "Bruce Lee," it said.
The Chinese news Web site Sina.com reported Sunday that Hong Kong comedian Stephen Chow of "Shaolin Soccer" fame is a likely lead actor and that the film is budgeted at $12.5 million, with filming possibly to start early next year.
Hong Kong native Lee died in 1973 at age 32 from swelling of the brain. He is known for films in which he portrayed characters that defended the Chinese and working class from oppressors.
The announcement of the film came on the 33rd anniversary of his death.
July 26th, 2006, 05:28 AM
Film festival to have a fresh shot at shorts
26 July 2006
South China Morning Post
A new film festival starts this autumn for independent short films in Hong Kong. I Shot Hong Kong will debut between October 4 and 6, co-organised by Ocean Vista Films as a four-day event at the Fringe Club. Actually, the first festival took place last July but included only three films. Hopefully, the event will be a little larger this year and to boost participants there is now a call for submissions, which must be received by September 15.
The festival is open to international and Hong Kong filmmakers. The only criteria are that Hong Kong must be the main location in the work, and the production and post-production must be done in the city. There will be open, animation and music-video categories. For more details and a submission form, visit www.ishothongkong.com .
July 31st, 2006, 06:21 AM
Donnie Yen: the dragon who rises above Asian stereotype in Hollywood
HONG KONG, July 30, 2006 (AFP) - Jackie Chan and Jet Li may be modern Hollywood's most sought-after kung fu stars, but lesser known Donnie Yen is perhaps the most credible claimant to the mantle of the legendary Bruce Lee.
Like the late hero, Yen, whose new movie "Dragon Tiger Gate" was released here Friday, is an ethnic Chinese American who found fame at a young age in Hong Kong with his high-kicking martial arts skills.
Yen is also similarly rebellious. As a teenager he regularly fell foul of the law after getting mixed up in street fights.
So it is unsurprising that Lee became Yen's idol many years ago.
"I wanted to be Bruce Lee because I found someone I could relate to, someone I could look up to," Yen told AFP ahead of a star-studded Hong Kong premier of "Dragon Tiger Gate".
Lee only began to realise his commercial potential at the end of his tragically short career, but he is now regarded as one of world cinema's true greats and Hong Kong has belatedly begun to recognise that too.
Last week, the city Lee went on to call home marked the 33rd anniversary of his death with a gala event at a statue recently unveiled to honour his contribution to popular culture.
"A lot of very successful characters in movies have used the Bruce Lee formula -- the underdog who has been training and suppressed; in the end they arise," said the 43-year-old star of "Blade II" and "Hero".
Yen said he tapped into the core elements of Lee's films -- real action, emotion and passion -- to produce "Dragon Tiger Gate", based on a massively popular Hong Kong comic series in the 1970s.
For a start, he promises true combat scenes with few special effects.
"It's very difficult to make films with convincing martial arts," said Yen, who choreographed the action. "People think it is enough to cast a couple of idols or train the actors for a couple months. But the audiences can see through that."
Yen said he demanded intensive training from the two main actors in the movie, rebel pop star Nicholas Tse and Shawn Yue, who had little kung fu experience before this movie.
But "the truth is it's impossible" to do without proper martial artists, added Yen.
-- Gang member --
Born in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, Yen came to Hong Kong at the age of two and later moved to the US, growing up in Boston's Chinatown.
Much of the star's inspiration comes from his mother, Bow Sim-Mark, a world famous Wushu and Tai Chi master, at whose internationally-known Chinese Wushu Research Institute the young Yen learned kung fu.
"Very early on, I discovered that I was very gifted in expressing my body and physical movements with martial arts, I spent a lot of time with it," he said.
But it has been a tough career path and repeated blows have left Yen with a disjointed nose, a snapped tendon in his shoulder and regular back pain.
He had ample opportunity to put his skills to use as a youngster, running with a gang in the mean streets of Boston's notorious Combat Zone where fighting was routine.
Concerned for his future, his parents sent the then 16-year-old Yen to Beijing where he spent two years training with the famed Beijing Wushu Team, studying with the same masters as Jet Li.
"I wanted to leave (the US) because if I had continued that way, I know I would have ended up like some of the friends I was associating with: they were killed, they were in jail..." said Yen, also a classical pianist.
The turning point for him came when veteran film director Yuen Wo-ping, the action choreographer for the "Matrix" trilogy who launched the career of Jackie Chan, discovered Yen and helped him break into movies as the new kung fu hero.
Yuen cast Yen in 1984's "Drunken Tai Chi" and his career took off.
-- Hollywood stereotypes --
Now credited with more than 40 films and being the first Hong Kong Chinese filmmaker to co-direct a German TV series, "Codename: Puma", Yen hopes to use his celebrity to fight a long-standing off-screen battle to kick the Asian stereotype out of Hollywood.
In the mid-1990s, Yen turned down an offer from Francis Ford Coppola because of scripts which he said contained "a ridiculous stereotype about the Chinese".
He also rejected an offer to play in the Tomb Raider sequel, which China banned for making the country appear lawless and run by secret societies.
"I couldn't play it. That, truthfully speaking, disgraced the Chinese," he said.
"A lot of these people (in Hollywood) are actually quite ignorant about other cultures, that's the strangest thing ... they truly believe they understand other cultures and their point of view.
"But it's incorrect culture and incorrect knowledge. I got that all the time. I try my best on a personal level to correct that whenever I come across these prejudices," he said.
Yen is drawing on Bruce Lee's legacy in his quest.
"Before Bruce Lee, Asians were always perceived as of secondary importance and had negative images. Bruce Lee was the first one who came forward and represented a very strong, confident and positive individual and that's why he was so great," Yen said.
"Lee spoke a universal language, all races love him. He represents a certain strength for society, showing that you can make it, you can do it too."
So far, he said, his mission appeared to be working.
"(Job offers) still come forward and each time they come forward, they come with a lot more respect, for me and for the Chinese culture," Yen said.
"The tiger is growing and playing one of the most important roles in the world now. They can't deny that."
August 1st, 2006, 07:50 PM
Jackie Chan: Movie Deal With Jet Li Near
By MIN LEE
1 August 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - A movie costarring two of the biggest names in kung fu cinema -- Jackie Chan and Jet Li -- is nearly a sealed deal, with the only outstanding issue being the script, Chan said Tuesday.
"All the hurdles have been overcome. The only problem left is the script," Chan told The Associated Press after a press conference to promote his new action comedy, "Rob-B-Hood."
"We need a script that he approves and I approve. If that goes well, shooting will start in March or April in Shanghai," he said.
Asked about the plot, Chan suggested it will be action-oriented fare, saying he and Li must defer to the movie's Hollywood backers.
"It will be more American-style. It will be more suited to foreign audiences than Chinese audiences," he said. "If you make a Hollywood movie, of course you have to follow their wishes. They're paying us so much money."
He also revealed he will soon start shooting the third installment of the popular action comedy series "Rush Hour" with Chris Tucker, spending about a dozen days in France starting in September, followed by 10 days of shooting in New York and further filming in Los Angeles. He said the movie will wrap by March or April next year.
To cap off a busy filming schedule, Chan said he is also due to shoot a film in Japan that translates as "Shinjuku Incident" with Hong Kong director Derek Yee. He declined to reveal the plot, only saying it is based on a true story.
Asked about a recent Hong Kong pop concert that Chan disrupted with a surprise, somewhat drunken appearance on stage, he said he's resigned to the fact that his actions generate news.
"I'm used to it. I'll definitely be written about. I don't blame the writers," he said.
Chan appeared unannounced on stage at Taiwanese singer-songwriter Jonathan Lee's concert in Hong Kong last month. He then insulted the band and replied to heckles from the audience with a coarse insult.
But Chan, who has apologized for the incident, expressed frustration at the level of attention it drew.
"Everyone in the world has made mistakes, but it's just that we're celebrities. TV station managers, magazine editors, who doesn't drink, who doesn't get drunk?" Chan said.
August 7th, 2006, 03:01 PM
Lau Mum on Drug Use for 'Protege' Role
5 August 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Andy Lau may play a major narcotic dealer in the upcoming movie "Protege," but the Hong Kong star had little to say when asked if he had tried drugs to prepare for the role.
Director Derek Yee told reporters at a news conference that one of the movie's stars, Chinese actress Zhang Jingchu, had wanted to try drugs to better portray a drug user but that he talked her out of it.
Zhang denied the claim.
But Lau -- who plays a heroin kingpin grooming his successor to take over the business -- stayed silent. As did co-stars Daniel Wu, Louis Koo and Anita Yuen.
Publicity material for the film claims the actors took career risks by signing on for a movie revolving around drugs. "All the five stars ... are willing to forsake their star images to have breakthrough performances," a press handout says.
The actors said during a news conference on Thursday that they did extensive research for their parts. Both Zhang and Koo said they met recovering drug addicts. Yee said he had met former drug dealers referred to him by police contacts.
But asked if they had considered trying drugs to prepare for their performances, or if they had ever used drugs, they fell silent.
"Protege," backed by financing from England, the U.S., China, Hong Kong and Singapore, is due to be released early 2007.
August 12th, 2006, 04:18 AM
Hong Kong opens first sex workers film festival
HONG KONG, Aug 11, 2006 (AFP) - Hong Kong's first sex workers film festival will kick off later on Friday, showing movies about prostitutes' lives aimed at shedding light on a taboo subject in Chinese society.
Concern group Zi Teng will show a total of nine films on prostitutes from Hong Kong, Taiwan, India and the United States, some of which were shot by the sex workers themselves.
Zi Teng spokeswoman Elaine Lam said response for the festival has been better than expected with several shows sold out.
"I guess it's the first time we do this in Hong Kong. When we talk about sex and sex workers, people tend to be interested in it," Lam said in her office decorated with bras and underwear donated by prostitutes.
Lam said she hopes the film festival will challenge stereotypes in a conservative Chinese society which discriminates against sex workers.
"There are deep prejudices towards them. Everyone thinks they only love money, all of them are linked with gangsters or drug dealers, so we hope to use this opportunity to allow the sisters to tell their stories through their own eyes," Lam said.
The films include a documentary on homosexual sex workers, another on Taiwan's 'mail-order brides' and an X-rated portrayal of Carol Leigh, one of the most prominent campaigners for sex workers' rights in the United States.
August 30th, 2006, 12:43 AM
Hong Kong's Johnnie To won't start filming new movie until at least mid-Sept: Assistant
29 August 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong director Johnnie To won't start shooting his new movie "Linger" until he returns in mid-September from film festivals in Toronto and Venice, an assistant said Tuesday, denying a media report that filming had already begun.
To is scheduled to attend the Toronto International Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival. His movie "Exiled," about hit men who pursue a target in Macau -- a Chinese gambling haven near Hong Kong -- is competing for the Golden Lion award at the Italian festival.
The assistant, Ding Yuin-Shan, denied a report in the Bandao Dushi Bao newspaper that the film "Linger" has started shooting.
"It's in its preparation stages," Ding said.
"The soonest he can start is when he comes back from Venice and Toronto," he said, adding that To is expected to return to Hong Kong in mid-September.
The Venice Film Festival runs from Wednesday to Sept. 9, while the Toronto event is scheduled for Sept. 7-16.
Ding said To had cast mainland Chinese actress Li Bingbing and Vic Chou, a member of the popular Taiwanese boy band F4 in "Linger," but declined to give any plot details.
Ding said filming on another of To's projects, "The Sparrow," about four pickpockets, is ongoing.
To's most recent films were the gangster movies "Election" and "Election 2." "Election" was a big winner on the Hong Kong film awards circuit this year, bagging the best film prize at both the Hong Kong Film Awards and the Hong Kong Film Critics Society awards.
"Exiled," "Election" and "Election 2" are screening in Toronto.
August 31st, 2006, 05:13 PM
Film competes for gold in Venice
Hong Kong Standard
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
The nomination of Hong Kong film Exiled for the Golden Lion Award at the upcoming Venice Film Festival shows that its director, Johnnie To Kei- fung, belongs in the pantheon of modern cinematic masters, said acclaimed actor Francis Ng Chun-yu.
In a government-organized send-off party for those representing Hong Kong at the festival, To said he was merely content to be among "global masters" and was excited by the potential learning experience.
But Ng - who won Taiwan's Golden Horse Best Actor Award for his work in To's 1999 film The Mission and who stars in Exiled - said To had been recognized as "one of the masters."
To's signature film-noir style has been a consistent presence at Asian film award ceremonies for almost a decade, but recent high-profile productions, such as PTU, Breaking News and Election, have been attracting greater global attention.
Election 2, a political allegory told as a power struggle within a powerful triad society, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May to much acclaim.
The Hong Kong-Malaysian film Rain Dogs, directed by the up-and- coming Ho Yuhang, will also be competing in the "New Horizons - Orizzonti" category for new trends in cinema.
Jackie Chan's Rob-B-Hood and the Hong Kong-mainland production The Banquet, starring Daniel Wu Yin-cho and Zhang Ziyi, will be screened at the festival as noncompetitive features.
Representatives of all four films attended the government's send-off party Monday, with the cast of To's Exiled turning up in force and hogging the spotlight.
Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen thanked the representatives for beginning a "new journey" for Hong Kong cinema.
Tang said he was encouraged to see that two of the films were jointly produced with other jurisdictions and urged more such productions in future.
He said the government would fully support the Hong Kong film industry by protecting intellectual property rights and publicizing local movies to the world.
Nick Cheung Ka-fai, who starred in To's two Election films as well as Exiled, said the most successful film industries around the world were well supported by their respective governments, and thanked Tang for Hong Kong's support.
Chan, who will be going to Venice with his film Rob-B-Hood, said it did not matter whether the representatives brought back awards or not, as long as they made Hong Kong proud, "and add new luster to the Hong Kong film industry."
Lam Suet, who appears in Exiled and is a regular in To's award-winning films, said: "We'll do our best."
Josie Ho Chiu-yee, another Exiled cast member, said: "I've never walked on the red carpet before. I think I'll get wobbly legs."
The 63rd Venice Film Festival will be held from tomorrow to September 9. Its prestigious Golden Lion Award for best film - considered one of the film industry's highest accolades - was last year won by Taiwan-born Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain.
September 7th, 2006, 06:31 AM
Hong Kong director Johnnie To says he followed no rules while shooting new film
6 September 2006
VENICE, Italy (AP) - Hong Kong director Johnnie To said Wednesday that he followed no rules while shooting his latest film "Fangzhu," or "Exiled," which was making its premiere at the 63rd Venice Film Festival.
"During the shooting, I always did things spontaneously, without following a precise preparation or precise rules," he told a news conference.
The film is set in Macau -- a Chinese gambling haven near Hong Kong -- in 1998 and is about two hit men from Hong Kong sent to take out a renegade member who's trying to change his life,
"Macau was a very suitable place to shoot the movie, with its narrow alleys," To said. "If we had shot in Hong Kong, we couldn't have called it 'Exiled.'"
To's most recent films were the gangster movies "Election" and "Election 2." "Election" was a big winner on the Hong Kong film awards circuit this year, bagging the best film prize at both the Hong Kong Film Awards and the Hong Kong Film Critics Society awards.
"Fangzhu" is one of 21 vying for this year's Golden Lion, which will be awarded Sept. 9.
September 12th, 2006, 09:01 PM
Veteran Hong Kong actor, Cantonese Opera performer Kwan Hoi-shan dies
11 September 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Veteran Hong Kong actor and Cantonese Opera performer Kwan Hoi-shan, whose credits include Jackie Chan's film "Project A" and its sequel, has died, an official said Tuesday.
Kwan's wife found her husband's body Monday morning and took him to a hospital, where he was found to have died of natural causes, the Apple Daily newspaper said.
Kwan was taken to Kwong Wah Hospital but had died before he arrived, a Hospital Authority spokeswoman said on customary condition of anonymity.
Apple Daily said Kwan was 80, while the Ming Pao Daily News put his age at 82.
Kwan joined a Cantonese Opera troupe at age 11 and later moved into acting, joining Hong Kong TV station TVB in 1976, according to Apple Daily.
Among his film credits are Chan's "Project A," about a naval officer assigned to police duty after pirates destroy his fleet, and the sequel, "Project A II."
Kwan won best supporting actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 1992 for his role in "Lee Rock," which starred Andy Lau.
Kwan, nicknamed "Uncle Shrimp," suffered a stroke in 2001 which left him partially paralyzed, Ming Pao said.
Mourning Kwan's death, actor Chow Yun-fat, who worked on a TV series with Kwan, was quoted as saying in Apple Daily: "Uncle Shrimp took good care of young actors. He was a good actor. When I first started out I got to work with this experienced actor. He was willing to share his insights into acting with younger actors."
Apple Daily said Kwan is survived by four daughters and two sons from four marriages.
September 12th, 2006, 09:03 PM
Hong Kong's Lau to receive kudos at Pusan festival
SEOUL, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Actor Andy Lau, one of the biggest box office stars in Hong Kong, will be honoured with the Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award at South Korea's Pusan International Film Festival, organisers said on Tuesday.
The festival, which will run from Oct. 12-20 in the port city of Pusan, has steadily become one of the more important gatherings for the global movie industry because it is seen as a prime venue to spotlight movies and movie markets of Asia.
Lau will be honoured for his work as an actor in more than 100 films and for a new project to help cultivate directors in Asia. He has appeared in the "House of the Flying Daggers" and "King of Gamblers" while helping define Hong Kong's action genre.
The line-up for the 11th edition of the Pusan film festival will showcase 245 films from 63 countries.
"We aim to have PIFF be the leader for growing the horizons of the Asian film industry," festival director Kim Dong-ho told a news conference.
The South Korean tearjerker "Trace of Love" will open the festival while the dark comedy "Crazy Stone" from Chinese director Ning Hao will close the event.
Over the years, Pusan has served as a springboard for young Asian directors and helped make South Korea one of the key players in the Asian film industry.
Industry executives have said Pusan is one of key places where they can take their films, which are made with budgets far more modest than the expensive Hollywood fare, and try to market the products on a more grand scale.
September 13th, 2006, 06:58 AM
a sad lost of veteran actors, the most memorable performance is his role in "Lee Rock" movie in which he won best supporting actor
Veteran Hong Kong actor, Cantonese Opera performer Kwan Hoi-shan dies
11 September 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Veteran Hong Kong actor and Cantonese Opera performer Kwan Hoi-shan, whose credits include Jackie Chan's film "Project A" and its sequel, has died, an official said Tuesday.
September 13th, 2006, 07:34 PM
Ann Hui's film to be featured at Hong Kong Film Night in Vancouver
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Government Press Release
Renowned Hong Kong film director Ann Hui's latest film, The Post-Modern Life of My Aunt, is to be featured at the "Hong Kong Film Night" at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) early next month.
Miss Hui, who is also the president of the Hong Kong Film Directors' Guild, is currently visiting Toronto to promote her film for its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office (HKETO) in Canada will be presenting the film at the "Hong Kong Film Night" in Vancouver on October 3.
After its exposure in Toronto, the "The Post-Modern Life of My Aunt", starring Chow Yun-Fat, Siqin Gaowa, Lisa Lu, Shi Ke and Vicky Zhao Wei, will be shown at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) on September 29, October 3, 4 and October 5.
The HKETO Director, Mr Bassanio So, today (September 12, Toronto time) met with Hui in Toronto and briefed her on the film-related activities organised by the HKETO in Canada, including featuring Hong Kong films at different film festivals in major Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal, and organising film seminars for people in the film industry, and for university students who are interested in film-making.
They exchanged views on the challenges being faced by the film industry internationally. Miss Hui said the major concern of Hong Kong's film industry is to expand its international distribution network, so that investors could get back the money they invested. Both Miss Hui and Mr So agreed that co-productions between Hong Kong and Canada should be encouraged, making use of Hong Kong's talented film directors, its post-production facilities, and its proximity to China for location shooting.
"Taking part in international film festivals is a good way to promote Hong Kong films," said Mr So. The Toronto International Film Festival is one of the largest in North America. For the VIFF, it is expected to attract more than 150,000 people to 550 screenings of over 300 films from 50 countries. Other Hong Kong films to be featured at the VIFF include Karmic Mahjong directed by Wang Guangli with Francis Ng playing a leading role.
Film critics, media members, people from Vancouver's film industry and business community, etc, will be invited to the VIFF "Hong Kong Film Night" at Vancouver International Film Centre (1181 Seymour Street) on October 3. The pre-show reception will start at 5.30pm with the screening of "The Post-Modern Life of My Aunt" at 6.30pm. A photo exhibition entitled "The Sparkling Stars of Hong Kong in the Last 30 Years", jointly organised by the VIFF and Ming Pao Daily, will be displayed at the Hong Kong Film Night.
For more information about VIFF and ticket sales visit: http://www.viff.org/boindex.html
September 14th, 2006, 08:09 PM
Purported list of Hong Kong celebrities' home addresses raises privacy concerns
14 September 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong's privacy commission said Thursday it's investigating an online posting identifying the addresses of dozens of local celebrities, including pop stars Leon Lai, Miriam Yeung and Edison Chen.
The general area where actors Andy Lau and Jackie Chan live is also named on the list posted on the Internet forum Discuss.com.hk, but their exact addresses aren't given.
Belinda Pui, a spokeswoman for Hong Kong's Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, said authorities are investigating.
"We're following up. We're looking at the relevant information," Pui said, adding the commission will examine if the posting breaks privacy laws.
The addresses for Lai, Yeung and Chen are either exact street addresses or name the building or housing complex they live in, but other purported addresses are more vague, giving only the neighborhood.
The Ming Pao Daily News newspaper said it has been able to verify 60 to 70 percent of the addresses on the list.
Yeung was quoted as saying in the Apple Daily newspaper Thursday, "I hope Internet users can leave some privacy for us."
Star privacy is a hot issue in Hong Kong right now after a recent uproar over a magazine cover that showed singer Gillian Chung, part of the female pop duo Twins, changing backstage at a concert in Malaysia.
Jackie Chan led a protest at Hong Kong's government headquarters, the Hong Kong Journalists Association called the photos a violation of professional ethics and government regulators received a deluge of complaints.
Discuss.com.hk didn't immediately respond to a reporter's e-mail seeking comment.
September 24th, 2006, 04:38 AM
Chow Yun-fat Sheds the Pounds for Epic
23 September 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Chow Yun-fat says he slimmed down and rode horses to prepare for his role in the upcoming John Woo historical epic, "The Battle of Red Cliff."
The battle of Red Cliff is a key war in 208 A.D. that determined the geography of the "Three Kingdoms" period, when China had three separate rulers. Chow said he expects to arrive in Beijing by late February for shooting.
"To prepare for this movie, I lost weight ... and rode horses. I did a lot by way of preparation," the 51-year-old Hong Kong actor said Friday at a news conference to promote a short film contest in Hong Kong.
The cast also includes Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Taiwanese model Lin Chi-ling.
Chow recently filmed Chinese director Zhang Yimou's "Curse of the Golden Flower" and Hong Kong director Ann Hui's "The Postmodern Life of My Aunt."
Asked if he plans to spend more time making Chinese movies, Chow, who has focused on his Hollywood career in recent years, said, "If there's a good script, it doesn't matter what language it's in."
But he noted there appears to be a growing trend of making movies in mainland China because it offers better backdrops.
"It's a big country. The sets and venues look more impressive ... if filmmakers feel that filming in China allows for greater creativity, I think more and more filmmakers will go back to shoot movies," Chow said.
September 27th, 2006, 05:00 AM
HK director wins slot at Rome film festival
27 September 2006
South China Morning Post
Director Patrick Tam Kar-ming's comeback feature After This, Our Exile will represent the city at the inaugural RomeFilmFest next month.
Tam's film, starring Golden Horse best actor Aaron Kwok Fu-shing (Divergence) and Charlie Young Choi-nei (Seven Swords), is the director's first film since the 1989 romantic drama My Heart is that Eternal Rose.
Tam, an assistant professor at City University's creative media school and mentor of internationally renowned director Wong Kar-wai, won the 1994 Golden Horse award for best editing for Wong's Ashes of Time.
Widely tipped to become a serious rival with the prestigious Venice Film Festival, the Rome event announced that mainland director Tian Zhuangzhuang's new film, The Go Master, will also compete at the festival.
The Rome event is scheduled to open on October 13 with the world premiere of international star Nicole Kidman's latest feature Fur.
Hollywood director Martin Scorsese's version of the acclaimed Hong Kong title Infernal Affairs, retitled The Departed, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon, will also be shown at the festival.
The projects of three Asian directors, including Hong Kong's Fruit Chan and Yu Lik-wai, and Thailand's Apichatpong Weerasethakul, have been selected to attend the festival's financing section titled New Cinema Network - New International Projects, a collaboration with the Hong Kong Asian Film Financing Forum.
Also showing will be mainland director Guo Xiaolu's How Is Your Fish Today? and Zhang Yimou's Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles in the festival's reality section.
RomeFilmFest is a nine-day event billed as a feast for film lovers and for those who work in the industry. One of its goals is to attract people who love films but have never attended a festival before. It includes panel discussions and shows on music, fashion and literature.
October 6th, 2006, 04:59 AM
Hong Kong to get film commissioner
By MIN LEE
5 October 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong movie industry officials Thursday welcomed a reported government plan to appoint a film commissioner and fund local productions, but also urged authorities to combat film piracy outside the territory.
Hong Kong's Apple Daily newspaper reported Thursday that Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang will announce in a policy address Wednesday plans to launch a film commissioner's office and to back local movie productions to revive the territory's struggling film industry.
The government currently guarantees bank loans to movie production houses and funds film awards ceremonies and movie courses.
Industry officials said the possible new measures will help, but said any eventual film commissioner had to ensure copyright protection in other parts of Asia and channel resources to new directors and actors.
"It serves as encouragement to the industry. It will boost the industry's confidence to invest," said Woody Tsung, chief executive of the Hong Kong, Kowloon & New Territories Motion Picture Industry Association.
He said government funding will help Hong Kong film makers compete with counterparts from other countries who already enjoy it.
Tsung said he hopes the film commissioner will lobby other governments to crack down on piracy of Hong Kong movies.
"It's quite a headache for movie companies to spend a lot of money or resources to deal with copyright issues in foreign countries during the Hong Kong film industry's recession ... This is not what we movie companies are best at. We're talking about negotiating with foreign governments and law enforcement in foreign countries," he said.
"The government can do these things," Tsung said.
Hong Kong's film industry has slumped in recent years. In the mid-1990s, it churned out about 300 movies a year. By last year, production was down to about 50.
Instead, local film makers are turning to regional co-productions with China and South Korea.
Federation of Motion Film Producers of Hong Kong Chairman Crucindo Hung said government funding should be used to educate the next generation of film makers.
"The most important thing is for the government to use its funding to cultivate newcomers," he said.
"Very few new directors or actors have emerged in the last eight or 10 years," Hung said.
Jacqueline Cheuk, a spokeswoman for Tsang, declined to confirm the Apple Daily report, saying Tsang's office does not comment on speculative reports.
Tsung added Hong Kong film makers realize they cannot rely on the government in the long run.
"In the long run, the industry has to work hard to find new actors and write better scripts so that it can compete," he said.
October 6th, 2006, 11:41 PM
Lau Gives 'Departed' an 8 Out of 10
6 October 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Andy Lau gives "The Departed" -- an Americanized version of one of his movies -- an eight out of 10. The new Martin Scorsese film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson was inspired by the 2002 Hong Kong crime thriller "Infernal Affairs," which features Lau and Tony Leung.
"It's correct that he gave it eight on a scale of 10," Lau spokeswoman Alice Tam said, confirming remarks published Friday. She added that Lau dislikes the amount of foul language in the film and the fact that it has only one main female character.
"Infernal Affairs" is about a gangster who infiltrates the police (Lau) and a police officer who goes undercover in a gang (Leung). In the original, the two have separate love interests.
In "The Departed," the undercover gangster in the police (Damon) and the undercover policeman in the gang (DiCaprio) both get romantically involved with the police psychiatrist played by Vera Farmiga.
Lau thinks "the effect of combining the two female characters in the original into one isn't as good as in the original," according to Tam.
She also said the veteran Hong Kong actor contrasted his approach to his role with Damon's.
"He said he focused on his character's psychology, and that the character didn't look like a bad guy on the surface," Tam said, whereas Damon's portrayal showed his character as an obvious bad guy.
October 12th, 2006, 06:04 AM
Hollywood remake pleases Andrew Lau
12 October 2006
South China Morning Post
In case you wonder what the two Hong Kong directors who made Infernal Affairs think of the Hollywood remake, The Departed, popular movie reference website imdb.com seems to have the answer. Their news section includes a short item on Andrew Lau Wai-keung who gives the new version an eight out of 10 rating.
"Of course I think the version I made is better, but the Hollywood version is pretty good too," said Lau, who co-directed Infernal Affairs with Alan Mak Siu-fai. "I have to admit that Martin Scorsese is very smart. He made the Hollywood version more attuned to American culture." On the other hand, Lau laments the amount of profanity in The Departed.
However, you might want to take the article's reliability with a grain of salt as it claims it got its info from the "Hong Kong English-language tabloid, the Apple Daily".
October 16th, 2006, 04:30 PM
Second movie set in China's 'Three Kingdoms' period to star Andy Lau, Maggie Q
15 October 2006
BUSAN, South Korea (AP) - After John Woo's recently announced "Battle of Red Cliff," fellow Hong Kong director Daniel Lee said Sunday he's going to shoot another film set in ancient China's "Three Kingdoms" period, starring Andy Lau and Maggie Q.
Woo's film revolves around a factual Battle of Red Cliff, a key war in 208 A.D. that determined the geography of the Three Kingdoms period, when China had three separate rulers.
Lee's film, called "Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon," is based on a battle from the classic Chinese novel "Three Kingdoms," set in the historical period of the same name.
Lee said he's always wanted to make movie based on the novel.
"When I was very young, my father told me stories from the 'Three Kingdoms,'" he said at a launch party on the sidelines of the Pusan International Film Festival.
He said "Three Kingdoms" is "the best Chinese novel ever written."
Hong Kong action star Sammo Hung, known for the U.S. TV series "Martial Law," will choreograph action sequences for Lee.
Shooting on the Hong Kong-South Korean co-production will start in China in March, the same time Woo aims to start filming "Battle of Red Cliff," a press booklet for the movie says.
Woo's movie, a co-production between the state-run China Film Group and Woo's Los Angeles-based Lion Rock Productions, stars Chow Yun-fat, Cannes best actor winner Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Taiwanese model Lin Chi-ling.
October 16th, 2006, 04:31 PM
Chan: Hollywood Rules Impede Stunt Work
15 October 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan, famous for his daredevil stunts, says he's frustrated by Hollywood's safety rules.
"There are so many safety and insurance rules to follow," Chan said in an interview on his Web site Sunday.
"I know that they want to make sure that I'm safe when I do my stunts, but sometimes they insist that I use protective gear for even simple things, and that is frustrating. It takes so much time," he said.
Chan said he feels less encumbered when making films in Hong Kong.
"In Hong Kong we just go ahead and do what needs to be done. There is no safety captain on the set. I use my own stunt team because they have experience and I trust them to make the action and stunts safe," he said.
Chan also said that when he first broke into Hollywood, he'd had little control over his own moves, even though he'd been choreographing stunts for decades in Hong Kong.
But that that has changed over time.
"When I first started making Hollywood films, the directors wouldn't listen to anything I said when it came to the action," he said.
"It's different now; the directors respect me and listen to me. Over the years I have gotten more involved in the planning of the action and stunts on my American movies and that makes me happy. But mostly it is difficult," Chan said.
November 9th, 2006, 04:04 PM
'Belly Dancer' rare, touching look at Hong Kong's working-class housewife
9 November 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong is famous for its macho kung fu and gangster movies.
Director Lee Kung-lok's "My Mother is a Belly Dancer" is a rare and heartwarming look at a female Hong Kong demographic that gets much derision and little appreciation -- the working-class housewife, known locally as "see lai."
In America, they're known as "soccer moms" -- busy suburban women who ferry their children to soccer practice. The Hong Kong equivalent has a more derogatory image -- gossipy, lack of fashion sense, uneducated.
The mink-wearing, Louis Vuitton-obsessed rich Hong Kong housewife who rides around town in a Rolls Royce, commonly known as a "tai tai," is more familiar to the public consciousness.
The women known as "see lai" are a different breed.
Director Lee paints a grim, touching picture of them in "Belly Dancer." The English title is a misnomer. The literal translation of the Chinese title -- "It's not easy being a see lai" -- better conveys the theme.
In "Belly Dancer," the "see lai" are the downtrodden underdogs -- hardworking, loving wives and mothers abused by their husbands and children, unable to escape because of their lack of education.
Lee tells the story of four suppressed women -- a garbage collector struggling to make ends meet, a teenage mother, an abandoned wife and another housewife who's constantly berated by her son and husband -- who escape their woes and bond by learning how to belly dance.
"Belly Dancer" moves audiences because it avoids cliches and idealized endings. There's undoubtedly humor to the mismatch of middle-aged Chinese women shaking their hips and bottoms on the roof of a public housing estate.
But the director is careful not to cast belly dancing as a panacea. At the end of the day, it's a welcome respite from the women's troubled lives, but not a cure. They return to their unpleasant homes and soldier on.
That's the message director Lee wants audiences to go home with -- that in this rich, developed society, working-class women don't have it easy.
On the Net:
"My Mother is a Belly Dancer" Web site (in "film projects" section): http://www.focusfirstcuts.com
November 9th, 2006, 04:06 PM
Hong Kong's Tsui Hark to direct third installment of 'Eye' horror series
8 November 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Veteran Hong Kong filmmaker Tsui Hark will make a rare foray into the horror genre and direct the third installment of the "The Eye" series, his wife said Thursday.
"The Eye 3" will be about a woman haunted by visions after her husband is killed in a diving accident, Tsui's wife, Nansun Shi, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
Fellow Hong Kong director Peter Chan's Applause Pictures, which produced the first two installments, will work on the latest Chinese-language film as well, said Shi, who is also the executive director of Tsui's production company, Film Workshop.
Shi did not reveal the cast of the movie.
The series began with "The Eye," directed by twin brothers Oxide and Danny Pang. The film was about a young woman who sees the visions of a dead woman whose corneas she inherited in a transplant.
"The Eye 2," also directed by the Pang brothers, revolved around a pregnant woman who becomes mentally troubled after several botched suicide attempts.
The remake rights to "The Eye" have been sold to Paramount Pictures, with Renee Zellweger reportedly cast in a starring role.
Tsui's repertoire is broad, encompassing animation, comedy and action. But he isn't known as a horror specialist. His last movie, "Seven Swords," is a kung fu epic about seven fighters who defend a village from invaders.
Tsui also directed "Knock Off" and "Double Team," both featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme.
December 6th, 2006, 07:59 AM
Jet Li's new movie a war epic about blood brothers set in imperial Qing dynasty
By MIN LEE
5 December 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Jet Li's new movie is a US$40 million (euro30.1 million) war epic revolving around three blood brothers set in the imperial Qing dynasty also starring veteran Hong Kong actor Andy Lau and Taiwanese-Japanese heartthrob Takeshi Kaneshiro, one of the investors in the Chinese-language film said.
Details of "Ci Ma" have been dribbling out in Chinese media recently. Director Peter Chan and the main cast members officially launched the production at a news conference in Beijing on Monday.
"Ci Ma" is a remake of famed martial arts director Chang Cheh's 1973 movie "The Blood Brothers." It is about the breakdown of the friendship between three men when one kills another to steal his wife, and the third seeks revenge.
Spokeswoman Emily Wong for Hong Kong's Media Asia Films, one of the investors in the movie, said director Chan will largely follow the story of "The Blood Brothers."
A statement from Media Asia says the three blood brothers, played by Li, Lau and Kaneshiro, rose up the ranks of the Qing dynasty army after joining the fight against rebels.
It quoted Chan as saying his treatment of the story will stress "friendship, compassion, and personal sacrifice in the time of war."
Much speculation has focused on the female lead for the movie, who has not been announced. Taiwan's Shu Qi, China's Zhou Xun and Chinese actress-director Xu Jinglei have been mentioned as possibilities.
Spokeswoman Wong said the lead actress has not been confirmed yet. Hong Kong's Apple Daily newspaper quoted Chan as saying that discussions with the likely female lead are near conclusion but he can't make a formal announcement yet because she hasn't signed a contract.
"Ci Ma" marks Chan's departure from the romance genre he is best known for. His credits include "Comrades, Almost a Love Story," about the relationship between two mainland Chinese immigrants living in Hong Kong and the Hollywood film "The Love Letter," about a woman's quest to find the author of a mysterious love letter.
His most recent work is the musical "Perhaps Love," a love triangle set against the filming of a movie starring Zhou, Kaneshiro and Hong Kong pop star Jacky Cheung. The film won Chan the best director prize at this year's Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan, the Chinese-language equivalent of the Oscars.
"Ci Ma" involves major scenes like a 10,000-man army fighting in a blizzard, Media Asia's statement said. It said filming is due to take place in Beijing, Shanghai and Hengdian, located southwest of Shanghai, with shooting in Beijing having kicked off Monday.
The film is scheduled for release at the end of 2007.
Among the other investors are the state-run China Film Group and Warner China Film HG, a three-way collaboration between the Hollywood studio Warner Bros., China Film Group and private Chinese conglomerate Hengdian Group.
December 12th, 2006, 11:29 AM
Director Woo Can't Film on Yangtze
9 December 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Director John Woo says efforts to depict an ancient Chinese battle in his new film have been frustrated because he can't shoot at China's largest river, the Yangtze.
Woo has had to rely on special effects to create a similar backdrop in the upcoming movie, "Battle of Red Cliff." It is based on a war of the same name in 208 A.D. that determined the geography of the Three Kingdoms period, when China had three separate rulers.
The movie, scheduled to start shooting in March, features Chow Yun-fat, Cannes best actor winner Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Taiwanese model Lin Chi-ling.
"Our biggest challenge is location because we can't shoot at the Yangtze. Due to many different reasons and circumstances, we can only shoot in Beijing and Hebei province," Woo said on the sidelines of an awards ceremony in Beijing on Thursday. Hebei is located in China's north.
Footage of Woo's remarks was posted on the Chinese news Web site Sina.com on Saturday. Woo didn't say why his production team can't shoot at the Yangtze. The river is the site of frequent dam construction aimed at meeting China's growing energy needs.
"Battle of Red Cliff" marks Hong Kong native Woo's return to Chinese-language cinema after moving to Hollywood, where his credits include "Broken Arrow," "Face/Off" and "Mission: Impossible II."
December 13th, 2006, 07:16 AM
Hong Kong grabs top honors at Taipei movie awards
TAIPEI, Nov 25 (Reuters Life!) - A Hong Kong movie took top honours on Saturday at the Taiwan Golden Horse Awards, the most coveted Chinese-language film prize in Chinese cinema.
Hong Kong's Peter Chen won the best director award with his film "Perhaps Love", a musical, which had 12 nominations.
Taiwan's own film industry has suffered in recent years at the awards ceremony, equivalent to the "The Oscars" in Chinese cinema, due to a focus on low-budget films that win overseas awards, but fare poorly at the box office.
Hong Kong pop singer Aaron Kwok won best actor for the film "After This our Exile" -- the second time in a row that Kwok won the award. China's Zhou Xun grabbed best actress for "Perhaps Love".
Taiwan's last claim to fame was Taiwan-born director Ang Lee, who won an Oscar for best director for "Brokeback Mountain", in 2005.
Taiwan has played host to the Golden Horse Awards for the past 43 years, and has had to watch the growing dominance of Hong Kong and Chinese films, as its own industry struggles to make profits.
December 20th, 2006, 10:52 AM
Director Patrick Tam is anomaly in prolific, improvisational Hong Kong movie industry
16 December 2006
HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong's film industry is famous for churning out a large volume of movies. Sometimes scripts are written at the last minute -- or not at all. But veteran director Patrick Tam doesn't work that way.
He waited 17 years before releasing his latest movie, the family drama "After This Our Exile." It's only the eighth film for the director who was part of Hong Kong's "New Wave" of the 1980s.
Tam is a perfectionist who strives for total preparation.
"When you make a movie, if your script isn't complete, it's a dangerous thing for the actors and others working on the film because I think everyone should know exactly what they're doing," Tam said at a recent public talk.
The son of a piano teacher and a government administrator who loved films, Tam grew up in a cultured environment. European film and existentialist writers were among his teenage hobbies.
Tam said his father dispensed movie criticism, telling him he appreciated the symmetry in the 1954 Western "Vera Cruz," which started with a shot of a lone horse rider and ended with a character leaving the scene alone.
Passionate about movies, he skipped university with his family's blessing, and joined Hong Kong TV station TVB in 1967 after graduating from secondary school.
Tam directed and produced dramas and comedies at TVB before moving on to the big screen, where he established a reputation as one of Hong Kong's most talented directors.
Tam's early work was stylishly shot but was often thin on content, a characteristic he acknowledges. The director beautifully captures the carefree lifestyle of Hong Kong's youth with blurred cinematography showing a group of youngsters lounging in a mosquito net-covered bed outdoors in "Nomad" (1982), but the movie has little in the way of a plot and ends with a bizarre massacre sequence.
Tam says the emphasis on form over content was partly a reflection of his youth, when he was more experimental, and partly the result of rushed shooting schedules that prevented him from writing complete scripts.
He wasn't happy with the compromises, and after releasing "My Heart Is That Eternal Rose" in 1989, decided it was time to regroup.
"I exhausted much of my creative energy, but I wasn't that satisfied with my output. I thought maybe it was time to take a break, reflect a bit to see what direction I should take."
Tam started to chart his movie career at his own pace. He became more selective, turning down projects when he disagreed with investors. In the meantime, he taught and edited movies for other directors, including Cannes winner Wong Kar-wai.
"The most important thing is whether all the elements are mature ... there's no point in casually making a movie," he said, adding, "you don't make movies for the sake of making movies. You make movies to make a movie that's meaningful or a good movie."
He said he also wants to make sure he has enough say in any project he takes on.
The key is "whether there are people who are willing to believe in the project, to invest in it, if there are actors who are willing to execute the project and willing to execute on my terms. That's very important," Tam said.
Control and organization are major themes of Tam's personality. His look is ultra-neat. He wears his gray hair short and cropped, favors thin rimmed glasses and plain blue or white dress shirts, khakis and black leather loafers.
While nearby cubicles are cluttered with video tapes, on Tam's desk at the creative media school of the City University of Hong Kong, where he teaches film, papers are neatly stacked in piles.
Aaron Kwok, the star of "After This Our Exile" said in a recent interview with City Entertainment magazine Tam is so meticulous he even monitors the performance of extras.
"He won't take a 98 percent performance. He'll only accept 100 percent," Kwok said.
Ultimately, it took 17 years until Tam felt the timing and circumstances were right for his eighth movie, but the patience and perfectionism has paid off.
"After This Our Exile," a product of script writing classes he taught at a Malaysian production company, dominated this year's Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan, the Chinese equivalent of the Oscars, winning best film, best actor for Kwok and best supporting actor.
In a stark contrast to his visually driven work in the past, the film painstakingly portrays the downfall of a hot-tempered cook, who pimps and forces his son to steal after losing his job, his home and his wife. The director's cut is 160 minutes long.
Tam finally feels his work has met his own high standards.
"In the past, my technique, my form were in the foreground. The narrative was in the background. The narrative was weaker because I didn't have enough time to prepare. Now the two elements are 50-50. They are very well integrated," he said.
January 2nd, 2007, 10:05 AM
Jackie Chan to Produce 10 Films in China
2 January 2007
HONG KONG (AP) - Jackie Chan said on his Web site Tuesday that he has a new film company in China.
"I just started a company in China and I will be producing 10 films," Chan said on his official Web site.
The action star, who is currently filming "Rush Hour 3" said he plans to use vacation time to scout talent and ideas for the 10 projects.
"I need to meet the new directors. I need to read the screenplays and listen to ideas for more screenplays. I need to look at director reels to hire more directors for this big project," he said.
Chan also said he is scheduled to make a commercial with retired boxer George Foreman in China, but didn't give details.
Chan has continued to make Chinese-language movies alongside his Hollywood films. He recently released the action comedy "Rob-B-Hood," about a group of kidnappers who have a change of heart after stealing a baby and don't turn him over to their employers.
January 16th, 2007, 11:57 AM
Walter Tso, legendary action man of the screen, dies at 91
(SCMP) 01月 16日 星期二 00:03AM
Legendary screen actor Walter Tso Tat-wah died last week in Britain. He was 91.
Tso, who was best known for his role as Detective Inspector Wah, died of a stomach haemorrhage on Saturday.
Veteran actress and close friend Connie Chan Po-chu, who was his goddaughter, last night confirmed that he had died. "It was very sudden. He had been doing well before that," she said.
Tso had been in a coma in hospital. "This is such a loss to me. He was a good man," Chan said.
Actress Lee Heung-kam, a long-time friend, said she only learned the news of his death when approached by reporters.
"He was a person of kindness and integrity," she said. "He never failed to offer help to his friends in times of need. It's sudden news. My heart and my hand shook when I learned the news," Lee said. "I've lost another old friend."
Tso was born on September 15, 1915, in Taishan, Guangdong. He was the most well-known wuxia (action) movie actor in the 1960s. By then he and Shek Kin, another super star, were famous for the "good and evil" roles they played.
Tso starred in more than 700 films and one of his roles was the eldest disciple of legendary kung-fu character Wong Fei-hung.
Tso reportedly lost his Wah Tat Studio, which produced most of his movies, at the gambling table.
As a student, he sneaked out of school to see the first silent movies to screen in Hong Kong. It was a Chinese martial arts film The Hero Of Guangdong that made him decide to become an actor.
Tso emigrated to London with his restaurateur son in 1990, but returned to Hong Kong to join TVB in 1993 because he felt like a "third-class citizen" there.
But he returned to London in 1997 when his wife of 60 years fell ill with kidney disease and had to undergo dialysis. After his wife died in July 2000, Tso returned to Hong Kong and lived in a friend's flat in Mong Kok.
He spent a month in hospital after falling down stairs at his home at Sai Yeung Choi Street, Mong Kok, in August last year.
He returned to Britain in November to visit family, saying he would stay for up to two months for medical tests and expected to return to Hong Kong.
He is survived by a son, in Britain, and a daughter who lives in America
January 29th, 2007, 07:09 PM
Hong Kong launches first pan-Asian film awards
HONG KONG, Jan 29, 2007 (AFP) - Hong Kong is launching the first ever pan-Asian film awards honouring regional talents in the industry, organisers said Monday.
The Asian Film Awards (AFA), organised by the Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF), will recognise movies and filmmakers from all over Asia. It will give out 10 prizes including best film, director, actress and actor.
"With more than four billion people in Asia -- 60 percent of the global population -- a celebration of Asian cinema is long overdue," HKIFF chairman Wilfred Wong said.
"We aim to make the AFA the most prominent and definitive film awards for the region by highlighting excellence in Asian film making and by bringing broader attention to the rich and diverse stories and storytellers from all over Asia today," he said.
The awards' spokesman said all nominees have been invited to what is expected to be a star-studded red carpet gala, held on the opening night of the 31st HKIFF on March 20. He declined to comment on who will attend the event.
"We have had the idea to host such film awards for a long time. We want this to become Asia's best and biggest film festival," he said.
South Korea's all-time box office hit and monster flick, The Host, received five nominations, including best film, director, cinematographer, editor and visual effects.
Veteran Chinese director Zhang Yimou's Curse of Golden Flower -- the most expensive Chinese film to date with a budget of 45 million US dollars -- has received three nominations including best film, visual effects and best actress for Gong Li.
Hong Kong director Johnnie Yo's gang war epic, Exiled, has been nominated for best director and best film.
Chinese movie Still Life, which won top awards at the Venice Film Festival last year, has been nominated for three awards including best film, composer and director for Jia Zhangke.
Chinese starlet Zhang Ziyi was nominated as best actress in her latest movie, The Banquet. Japanese smash drama, Love and Honor, got the best film nod alongside Indonesia's Opera Jawa.
Iran's Jafar Panahi was nominated for best director with his black comedy, Offside.
The movies were picked by a jury of 17 experts from across the world after the screening over 700 eligible films produced in the region in 2006, organisers said.
February 1st, 2007, 03:55 PM
Celebrities seek tougher privacy laws
Thursday, February 01, 2007
About 80 percent of people polled agree that paparazzi trespassing and using devices to snoop on others in private premises should be criminalized, according to a Hong Kong University survey.
The survey, entitled "A Comprehensive Study into the Invasion of Privacy of Public Personalities by Hong Kong Paparazzi 2006," was commissioned by the Association of Performing Artistes Guild and conducted by the university's Public Opinion Program.
Most of the more than 2,000 people who were interviewed between May and September last year to find out what the public thinks about the level of privacy intrusion and the tactics used by the media when reporting entertainment news, agreed that such practices were unacceptable.
The survey also conducted a contents analysis of the territory's entertainment publications in August last year and found a total of 381 pictures published in 2005 and 253 in 2004 could be classified as illegal.
The classification was based on suggestions made by a Law Reform Commission report published in March to criminalize acts of trespassing private properties and using snooping devices inside or outside of private properties to infringe upon the privacy of public personalities.
Public Opinion Program director Robert Chung Ting-yiu said the problem of privacy intrusion generally worsened in 2005 compared with the previous year as many more of the intrusion pictures published in 2005 featured celebrities walking, doing their make-up or talking.
A smaller amount of the 381 pictures published in 2005 showed intimate behavior of celebrities, including hugging and sexual acts in private premises, including apartments, hotel rooms, holiday homes and private vehicles.
More than 400 respondents were asked to recall the names of entertainment news publications they thought responsible for the intrusions. Next Magazine headed the list, followed by Eastweek and Sudden Weekly.
However, 72 of those polled said they enjoyed reading those magazines because they were either curious about the lifestyles of celebrities or that they wanted to kill time or entertain themselves.
Another 477 respondents said they did not like reading them because the contents were inaccurate and they thought they were a waste of time.
In terms of accountability, 70 percent of 1,000 respondents said the magazines should be held responsible, 39 percent blamed personalities, 27 percent said it was the government and 24 percent said it was the readers themselves.
Among 1,013 respondents who were asked whether they felt legislation should be enforced against paparazzi teams to protect personalities' privacy, 54 percent said "yes" and 39 percent said "no," but they generally agreed that it was necessary to introduce tougher penalties to deter such acts.
Celebrity and guild president Eric Tsang Chi-wai said criminalizing increasingly unacceptable paparazzi behavior, which infringes upon the privacy of public personalities in Hong Kong, should be considered.
He said the guild planned to submit a report to the Legislative Council soon calling for tougher laws to protect the privacy of personalities.
February 2nd, 2007, 05:46 AM
Martial arts epic leads Hong Kong nominations
HONG KONG, Feb 1, 2007 (AFP) - Chinese director Zhang Yimou's historical martial arts epic "The Curse of the Golden Flower" is taking the lead in this year's Hong Kong film awards with 14 nominations, organisers said Thursday.
The blockbuster, the most expensive Chinese film to date with a budget of 45 million dollars, has won the nods for major categories including best film, best director, best actress for Gong Li and best actor for Chow Yun-fat.
The sumptuous movie tells the story of an imperial family which is slowly falling into decline, with battle scenes largely fought out between the sons of the emperor and empress played by Chow and Gong respectively.
The film, which has been nominated for best costume at this year's Oscar's, has also been recognised for its costume and make-up design here, as well as in the best supporting actor category for Taiwan's Jay Chou and Liu Ye.
Zhang's much lower-key drama, "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles", has also bagged the nod for best Asian film.
Following closely behind was Patrick Tam's art house film "After This Our Exile" with 10 nominations including best picture, director, screenplay and actor for Aaron Kwok, who won at last year's Golden Horse awards in Taiwan.
Veteran director Johnnie To picked up two nominations for best picture and director for his gangster flicks "Exiled" and "Election 2", which bagged four and five nods respectively.
"Fearless", starring martial arts icon Jet Li, picked up seven nominations including best film as well as best actor for Li's portrait of martial arts master Huo Yuanjiain.
Jacob Cheung will be competing in the best director category with costume action-drama "A Battle of Wits".
Chinese starlet Zhou Xun was nominated as best actress for her latest movie, "The Banquet" which won seven nominations in mostly minor categories.
Kung fu icon Jackie Chan's comedy "Rob-B-Hood" has two nods in action choreography and new performer.
The 26th Hong Kong Film Awards will be held on April 15.
March 8th, 2007, 04:10 AM
After 'The Departed' wins Oscars, Warner Bros. buys rights to second Hong Kong film
1 March 2007
HONG KONG (AP) - Warner Bros. remade the Hong Kong crime thriller "Infernal Affairs" into the Oscar-winning movie "The Departed." Now it wants to try the formula again.
The U.S. movie outfit hopes it may produce another hit by buying the rights to another film made by the same creative team behind "Infernal Affairs," and hiring Leonardo DiCaprio's company to shoot the Hollywood version.
Warner Bros. spokeswoman Andrea Marozas and spokeswoman Emily Wong for Hong Kong's Media Asia film company confirmed the deal for the rights to the 2006 film "Confession of Pain."
They did not say how much the rights cost.
"Confession of Pain" -- starring Cannes best actor winner Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Taiwanese-Japanese heartthrob Takeshi Kaneshiro -- is about a Hong Kong police officer who avenges the murder of his family after marrying the killer's daughter and earning his trust.
Like "Infernal Affairs," "Confession of Pain" was directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, and written by Felix Chong.
Hollywood producer Roy Lee said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that Warner Bros. has hired him and DiCaprio's production company to shoot the "Confession of Pain" remake. Warner Bros. is a unit of Time Warner Inc.
It was not immediately clear if DiCaprio, who starred in "The Departed," will also star in the U.S. version of "Confession of Pain."
Lee said William Monahan, who won an Oscar for the screenplay for "The Departed," will also write the remake of "Confession of Pain."
He said producers have not decided on a director.
Leung, who also starred in "Infernal Affairs," said he was delighted by the two remakes.
"I'm very happy, very honored that Hong Kong has this kind of talent," he said at a news conference to promote a coming film market.
In mainland China, "Confession of Pain" made $9 million -- a solid showing by Chinese standards -- and another $2.6 million in Hong Kong.
"The Departed," with other stars Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon, also won best editing, best picture and best director for Martin Scorsese in Oscars results announced Sunday.
Oscars organizers say that of all the films that won four or more Oscars in the competition's history, "The Departed" is the only one based on a foreign film.
March 8th, 2007, 04:11 AM
Three top-line Hong Kong films featured in Adelaide Film Festival
Government Press Release
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Acclaimed young Hong Kong director Edmond Pang's latest film "Isabella" opened the Hong Kong Cinema segment of the 2007 Adelaide Film Festival last night (February 26, Adelaide time).
Speaking at the launch of "Hong Kong Cinema", Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Sydney (HKETO) Mrs Jenny Wallis said her office had been associated with the prestigious biennial festival since 2003 and she hoped Hong Kong films would become a regular feature on its calendar.
The launch was part of a Chinese New Year reception in Adelaide jointly hosted by HKETO, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the Hong Kong Tourism Board and the South Australia Chapter of the Hong Kong Australia Business Association. Minister for Health, Minister for the Southern Suburbs and Minister Assisting the Premier in the Arts Mr John Hill, officiated at the event.
Isabella Leong, the leading actress in the opening film, arrived yesterday from Hong Kong to attend the launch. Mrs Wallis said "Isabella" had won Miss Leong "Best New Performer" at the 2006 Hong Kong Golden Bauhinia Awards, and a nomination for "Best Actress Award" in the Hong Kong Film Awards in April. The film's musical composer, Peter Kam, had won a Silver Bear for "Best Film Music" at the 2006 Berlin International Film Festival.
The other two latest Hong Kong releases featured in the Festival this year are Johnnie To's "Exiled", which had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival in August, and Cheang Soi's "Dog Bite Dog".
Mrs Wallis said that these two movies were equally engrossing and were typical examples of Hong Kong's brand of entertainment cinema that continually pushed the formal artistic experiment to new limits, and attracted the attention of world-renowned directors.
Looking to the New Year, Mrs Wallis said Hong Kong's economy would continue to power ahead with Hong Kong remaining the preferred location for the best and largest Mainland companies and international businesses.
She added that on July 1, Hong Kong would celebrate its 10th anniversary as a Special Administrative Region of China - a very special historical milestone.
"The successful implementation of 'One Country, Two Systems', which gives us our high degree of autonomy, is unique, and the celebrations will be a momentous occasion," Mrs Wallis said.
March 8th, 2007, 04:13 AM
Government to invest in movies
Hong Kong Standard
Thursday, March 08, 2007
In an unprecedented move, the government announced Wednesday it will invest directly in movie productions to back Hong Kong's ailing film industry.
Officials hope direct investment from the HK$300 million film development fund announced by Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen in his budget speech last week will bring about a revival to the industry that a senior official has described as "very important."
In 2006, the territory produced only 51 movies, compared with more than 100 films a year during its peak a decade ago.
However, some recent productions such as Infernal Affairs, made in 2002, have won international acclaim.
The latest boost to the industry came earlier this week when the Hong Kong film Isabella, produced by the Media Asia Group, won the Best Film Award at the Orient Express Competitive Section of this year's Oporto International Film Festival in Portugal.
Elaborating further on how the millions of dollars will be spent, Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology Joseph Wong Wing-ping said the film industry was very important and its revival will have "a lot of spill-over effects ... not just in terms of the film industry, but in other activities such as entertainment and employment."
The government said its direct investment would be limited to small and medium local productions and capped at 30 percent of the production cost.
If the films prove popular with the paying public, the government can look forward to receiving dividends.
Although there have been examples of government maintaining a level of investment in public utilities like MTRC and KCRC, it is believed to be the first time it has taken the step to invest directly in a venture considered nothing but commercial.
The move in Hong Kong is consistent with statements Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen made in September last year that the territory had long abandoned the policy of "positive non-intervention."
That statement has been a matter of controversy ever since.
Wong defended the move, saying he would not categorize the support as a subsidy for commerce.
"In a sense, it is a limited support in the form of investment and we think it is appropriate to do so for two reasons," Wong said.
"First of all, the film industry, is a very important creative industry in Hong Kong and [its] revival will have a lot of spill-over effects."
Secondly, he argued, there are also many examples of governments playing a "more active part" in supporting film industries in France, the United Kingdom, Singapore and South Korea.
"I believe this is a good policy and I believe it will yield returns not just to the film industry but to the community as a whole," Wong said.
He hoped that, with government investment, more movies would be produced locally which, in turn, would help train new blood vital to the industry's long-term development.
He said investment was only one of the many forms of support the development fund will take up.
It will also finance programs for training local scriptwriters and promoting Hong Kong movies abroad.
Director of award-winner Isabella, Pang Ho-cheung, welcomed the announcement, saying it was right to cap direct government investment at no more than 30 percent.
In the end, he said, movie production should be left to the creative minds in the industry.
He was more concerned about the particulars involved in implementation. Questions such as how new investors could be drawn into the field through government collaboration initiatives had to be tackled while applications were processed, he said.
Wong said the Film Development Committee formed last week would be the authority in charge.
The last time the government stepped in to rescue the industry was in 2003 when HK$50 million was allocated to provide financial guarantees to local institutions lending to filmmakers.
March 8th, 2007, 04:13 AM
Scorsese's ties to Chinese film trace beyond Oscar-winning remake 'The Departed'
27 February 2007
HONG KONG (AP) - Martin Scorsese finally won an Oscar -- and he did it with a little help from his Chinese-speaking friends.
The veteran American director won best picture and best director Oscars on Sunday for the gangster movie "The Departed," a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong crime thriller "Infernal Affairs."
But Scorsese's interest in Chinese-language cinema dates back decades.
He attended a movie conference in Beijing in 1984, when few foreigners had visited the country. He met Chinese directors Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige before they became critically acclaimed darlings in the West.
More recently, he has avidly boosted up-and-coming Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke, who won the top Golden Lion prize at the Venice Film Festival last year for "Still Life."
Taiwanese director Peter Wang, who attended the Beijing conference with Scorsese more than two decades ago, said the New York native was irritable in the morning but generally easygoing. He asked people to call him "Marty."
In his autobiography, "I Look Awkward," Wang said Scorsese was extremely curious about Chinese film.
"At many events, Marty would pull me aside and ask me what he was eager to know in a low voice," he wrote.
A picture published in Wang's book shows a bearded, trench-coat wearing Scorsese, his hair still dark black, chatting with Wang and others. It's a stark contrast to the gray-haired 64-year-old honored in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Scorsese showed his classic crime movies "Mean Streets" and "Taxi Driver" in Beijing -- but the films were so new to China that they were translated live on the spot, according to Wang.
By Scorsese's own account, he admired Chinese filmmakers' for "their eagerness, their passion" when he met them in the 1980s.
"The difficulties encountered by many of these filmmakers, under censorship as well as the economic dominance of Hollywood, are so great and so constant that their stories should give pause to many here in the West the next time we feel like complaining," he said in a foreword to the book "Speaking in Images: Interviews with Contemporary Chinese Filmmakers."
Scorsese said he followed Chinese and Taiwanese film closely.
He ranked Chinese director Tian Zhuangzhuang's "Horse Thief" and Taiwanese director Wu Nien-jen's "A Borrowed Life" among his top 10 picks for the 1990s. He said "Horse Thief" was "intimate yet epic, completely unsentimental but yet deeply moving."
In more recent years, he's become a big fan of Chinese filmmaker Jia. He heaped praise on Jia's debut "Xiao Wu," a portrait of a Chinese pickpocket.
"This was true guerrilla filmmaking, in 16-millimeter format, and it reminded me of the spirit in which my friends and I had begun, back in the 1960s," he said.
Jia said in an article published in Hong Kong's City Magazine's book review last year that Scorsese faxed him a letter in 2002 praising "Xiao Wu" and inviting Jia to meet him in New York.
The Chinese director said he was touched by the letter, noting more senior Chinese directors had never extended such a gesture.
"Such a letter and such words make you feel like you received greetings from the tradition of filmmaking, from a family. You feel that your work isn't lonely but is connected with the whole development of film," Jia said.
Jia said he met Scorsese, whom he affectionately refers to as "Old Martin," in his office in New York in October 2002 when he was attending the New York Film Festival.
He said the American director prepared Chinese tea and Italian snacks, and "constantly smiled at us, like watching a child."
Scorsese paid tribute to one of the directors of "Infernal Affairs," Andrew Lau, in his acceptance speech Sunday, also praising, "wonderful Asian cinema."
The success of "Infernal Affairs" helped launch Lau's own Hollywood career. He recently shot his American debut "The Flock," which features Richard Gere and Claire Danes.
Hong Kong also cheered Scorsese's win, with news reports Monday and Tuesday touting "The Departed" as a remake of a local movie.
Lau's co-director on "Infernal Affairs," Alan Mak, said he was so happy he felt like he himself won an Oscar.
"It feels like you won half an award," Mak said, adding he was encouraged that "an idea made in a small place in Hong Kong can become universal."
But "The Departed" hasn't fared that well in the city where its story originated. The remake, starring Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio, changes the setting from Hong Kong to Boston but follows the original plot closely.
While a box office hit in the U.S., "The Departed" made just 8.2 million Hong Kong dollars (US$1 million; euro800,000), while "Infernal Affairs" made nearly seven times that amount, or HK$55 million (US$7 million; euro5.3 million).
March 12th, 2007, 06:47 AM
Fund to boost film development (http://news.gov.hk/en/category/businessandfinance/070310/html/070310en03002.htm)
March 19th, 2007, 08:07 AM
Stars gather in Hong Kong for inaugural pan-Asian film awards
HONG KONG, March 18, 2007 (AFP) - Celebrities across Asia will bring glitz and glamour, as well as some healthy competition, to Hong Kong Tuesday for the first ever pan-Asian film awards ceremony.
The Asian Film Awards are launched this year by the Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF).
Among the stars to attend the glitzy event are renowned French director Luc Besson and South Korean director Park Chan-wook, whose film "Old Boy" was a Grand Prix winner at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.
Korean actor and singer Jung Ji-hoon, better known as Rain, Japanese idol Hirosue Ryoko, and actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai will tread the red carpet, along with local director Andrew Lau, whose "Infernal Affairs" was remade into the Oscar-winning gangster flick "The Departed".
"With more than four billion people in Asia -- 60 percent of the global population -- a celebration of Asian cinema is long overdue," HKIFF chairman Wilfred Wong said.
More than 30 films across the region will be competing for 10 prizes in the Asian Film Awards: best film, director, actress, actor, screenwriter, cinematographer, production designer, composer, editor and visual effects.
South Korea's huge box office hit and monster flick, "The Host", received five nominations, including best film, actor, cinematographer, editor and visual effects.
Veteran Chinese director Zhang Yimou's "Curse of Golden Flower" -- the most expensive Chinese film to date with a budget of 45 million US dollars -- won three nods including best film, visual effects and best actress for Gong Li.
Hong Kong director Johnnie To's gang war epic, "Exiled", earned nominations for best director and best film.
Chinese movie "Still Life", winner of a top prize at the Venice Film Festival last year, garnered three nominations: best film, composer and director for Jia Zhangke.
Japanese smash drama, "Love and Honor" and Indonesia's "Opera Jawa" got the best film nods.
The award show and the film festival will be held in conjunction with the third Entertainment Expo, which combines eight events in film, digital entertainment and music.
The Expo, which runs from March 20 through April 15, includes a film and TV market, local film awards, a digital entertainment forum as well as a music fair and awards.
"We certainly welcome and support events like this because they bring the Hong Kong film industry more exposure in the region," said Woody Tsung, chief executive of Motion Picture Industry Association.
"I hope this will create more business opportunities for us," he said.
Alongside To and Jia, Iran's Jafar Panahi will be competing for the best director gong for his black comedy "Offload" with Korea's Hong Sang-soo ("Woman on the Beach"), Taiwan's Tsai Ming-liang ("I Don't Want to Sleep Alone") and Thailand's Apichatpong Weerasethakul ("Syndromes and a Century").
Apart from Gong Li, Chinese starlet Zhang Ziyi was nominated as best actress for "The Banquet", along with Korean actresses Kim Hye-soo ("Tazza: The High Rollers") and Lim Soo-jung ("I'm a Cyborg, but That's OK") as well as Japan's Miyazawa Rie ("Hana") and Nakatani Miki ("Memories of Matsuka").
Korean idol Rain will be vying for the best actor prize for his role in romantic comedy "I'm a Cyborg, but That's OK", alongside Hong Kong heart-throb Andy Lau of historical action drama "A Battle of Wits" and acclaimed Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan of "Don".
Their rivals are Taiwan's Chang Chen ("The Go Master"), South Korea's Song Kang-ho ("The Host") and Japan's Watanabe Ken ("Memories of Tomorrow").
Special honours will be given to movie theorist David Bordwell and Josephine Siao Fong-fong, legendary Hong Kong actress and winner of of 1995 Berlin Film festival for her role in "Summer Snow", for their contribution in Asian cinema.
The movies were selected by a jury of 17 experts from across the world from more than 700 eligible films produced in the region in 2006, organisers said.
March 20th, 2007, 06:37 AM
Small filmmakers shut out, says star Josephine Siao urges the enforcement of anti-trust laws
20 March 2007
South China Morning Post
Anti-trust laws should be enforced to prevent film production and distribution companies from owning cinemas and filling the multiplexes with their own films during holiday periods, says a veteran Hong Kong filmmaker who will be honoured for her contribution to Asian cinema at the inaugural Asian Film Awards this evening.
Josephine Siao Fong-fong, the former child star who went on to become one of Hong Kong's most prominent actors, said the ownership of cinemas by the local film industry made life difficult for small-scale filmmakers.
"In Hong Kong, the market is controlled by big companies who distribute their own films to their own cinemas," she said. "Prime-time bookings - summer holidays, Christmas and the [Lunar] New Year [periods] - are all held for their own films. Independent filmmakers are crowded out and [are] unlikely to survive."
Speaking to the South China Morning Post ahead of receiving her honorary award at tonight's ceremony, Siao said the decimation of independent filmmaking would mean "a lack of competition" and the majors would have "little incentive to do quality work".
"Time and money are saved [but] quality is lost. Without anti-trust laws a local film industry is unlikely to flourish in Hong Kong," she said.
Siao has complemented her award-winning work in front of the camera - she won a best actress award in Berlin in 1995 for a role in Ann Hui On-wah's Summer Snow - with a parallel career as both screenwriter and producer, most notably in Jumping Ash, a gritty detective thriller she co-directed in 1976 with new-wave pioneer Leong Po-chih.
"In the 1980s, when I produced films with my own production house, I began to realise that there was little hope for independent film productions in Hong Kong," said Siao, 60. "This was when I got put off by producing films and I turned my attention to raising my children."
Siao, who is married with two daughters, began starring in films when she was just five, and moved through the ranks as a teenage idol and then into more serious projects, such as Patrick Lung Kong's Hiroshima 28.
The past decade has seen her devoting her time to the End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation, which she founded and has worked as chairwoman since 2001.
"I was stupid enough to think that starting this foundation could finally get me off the camera - it didn't take me long to realise that I had to use my name to get attention to the foundation and its cause," she said. "I am very glad that my years of making films have not been a waste of time. It would be nice if all actors become committed activists to make our society a better place for the younger generation."
April 14th, 2007, 05:50 AM
Bureau suggests linking grants to cost of films
12 April 2007
South China Morning Post
Films costing less than HK$12 million could qualify for grants of up to 30 per cent, according to a government discussion paper submitted to the Legislative Council yesterday.
A Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau paper presented to the Legco panel on information technology and broadcasting suggested qualifying films could be considered for subsidies from the HK$300 million film development fund.
Scripts depicting excessive violence and sex or insulting others through race and religious comments would not qualify.
To be eligible, films must be commercially viable, with third-party financing of at least half of the production budget.
At least half of the main cast and film crew would have to be local permanent residents.
Local film production companies, producers and directors who have produced at least two commercial films over the past 10 years would be eligible to receive funding for a maximum of two film projects at the one time.
Taking the advice of the vetting committee of the Film Development Council, the Commissioner for Television and Entertainment Licensing would release the funds to successful applicants in instalments.
Successful applicants would be required to submit reports and audited accounts once the film was finished.
The commerce bureau also suggested creating a permanent post of secretary-general of the Film Development Council in the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority to help the council run smoothly.
The government will review the film development fund in two years and review the entire organisational structure of Tela.
Last year, 51 local films were released and had box office takings of HK$282 million.
April 17th, 2007, 12:04 PM
Gov't Press Release:
"Hong Kong Films: 10 Years After" unveiled at University of Toronto (with photo) (http://info.gov.hk/gia/general/200704/17/P200704170110.htm)
April 17th, 2007, 12:07 PM
Film makers worried govt will reject film fund (http://www.rthk.org.hk/rthk/news/englishnews/20070417/news_20070417_56_393690.htm)
April 17th, 2007, 06:48 PM
Tam sweeps Hong Kong Film Awards
Director Patrick Tam has picked up five trophies at the Hong Kong Film Awards with his first film in 17 years.
After This Our Exile, which tells the story of a gambling addict who forces his son to steal to make ends meet, won best film, director and screenplay.
Ten-year-old Ian Gouw was named best supporting actor and best newcomer for his role in the downbeat drama.
Miami Vice and Memoirs of a Geisha star Gong Li won best actress for imperial epic Curse of the Golden Flower.
Gong plays an empress who helps stage a coup in the film, from House of Flying Daggers director Zhang Yimou.
The Chinese film-maker also won the best Asian film prize for his low-key drama Riding Alone for Thousands Of Miles.
Hollywood stars Jet Li and Chow Yun-fat lost in the best actor category to Lau Ching-wan, who was cited for the little-known comedy My Name Is Fame.
Patrick Tam's win comes 18 years after he quit directing to concentrate on teaching and film editing.
The 59-year-old's victory came at the expense of respected director Johnnie To, who had two nominations in both the best film and best director categories for his gangster movies Election 2 and Exiled.
"Patrick Tam deserved the prizes," film critic Jason Lam told the AFP news agency.
"His film was totally different from most of Hong Kong's mainstream commercial films. This is the year's most important film."
The man behind the balletic fight sequences in The Matrix and Kill Bill, Yuen Wo-ping, beat martial arts hero Jackie Chan to win the best action choreography trophy for Fearless.
Entertainment mogul Run Run Shaw, who founded the famous Chinese movie studio Shaw Brothers and later launched the local TV station TVB, was given the lifetime achievement award.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/16 08:49:42 GMT
April 20th, 2007, 06:24 PM
Wong Kar-wai movie to open 60th Cannes
20 April 2007
South China Morning Post
Screen master Wong Kar-wai's first English-language film, My Blueberry Nights, will be the first Hong Kong-produced film to open the Cannes Film Festival.
The movie, which has been nominated for the top prize, the Palme d'Or, and will have its world premiere at Cannes on May 16, will also be the first Chinese-directed film to open the festival, Cannes' 60th.
Wong's ninth full-length feature, My Blueberry Nights was filmed in the US but produced by Hong Kong companies Jet Tone Films and Block 2 Pictures, the two production houses with which he usually works.
The film's cast includes internationally renowned singers and actors including Grammy award-winning jazz singer Norah Jones, Oscar-winning actress Rachel Weisz, Bafta-winning actor Jude Law, Golden Globe-winning actress Natalie Portman and Volpi Cup-winning actor David Strathairn.
"I am very glad the film has been chosen to be the opening film at Cannes," Wong said.
The film's creative crews were mostly from Hong Kong, and many had to overcome language barriers with crews from different countries during production. The crews also included Wong's long-time creative partner William Chang Suk-ping and Oscar-nominated cinematographer Darius Khondji.
"I look forward to returning to Cannes to celebrate its 60th birthday," Wong said.
Since the 1990s, Wong has established a close relationship with Cannes. He won Best Director and was nominated for the Palme d'Or with Happy Together in 1997, while in 2000, actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai won the Best Actor award for the Wong-directed film In the Mood for Love, which was also nominated for the Palme d'Or.
Last year, Wong was the first Chinese to be president of the Cannes jury.
April 30th, 2007, 06:26 AM
Gov't Press Release:
"Hong Kong Films' Day" launches 10th anniversary celebration events in San Francisco (English only) (with photo) (http://info.gov.hk/gia/general/200704/30/P200704300061.htm)
May 1st, 2007, 04:38 AM
Hong Kong movies being geared toward expanding Chinese market, stricter censorship standards
30 April 2007
HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong movies, long known for their stylish violence, are being geared toward the expanding Chinese market and stricter censorship standards there, and observers are worried that Hong Kong cinema is losing its edge.
Hong Kong-Chinese co-productions are now the norm. Top directors favor ancient Chinese epics that appeal to a broader audience and are less likely to offend Chinese censors wary of bloodshed or flesh baring. Stories about gang feuds and urban love stories are becoming rare, giving way to period dramas.
John Woo, who made the Hong Kong gangster classic "A Better Tomorrow" and moved on to Hollywood fame, is about to start shooting "Red Cliff," based on a famous ancient Chinese battle.
Such movies are more often shot in the national Chinese dialect of Mandarin rather than Hong Kong's native Cantonese.
"Now the first thing Hong Kong investors will say is you have to find a mainland Chinese partner. Can this movie be released in mainland China? If it can't, (they'll say) `I'll have some concerns,'" said Peter Tsi, executive director of the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
The shift toward more culturally generic topics is motivated in part by a heightened sensitivity to China's authoritarian government, which, despite free market reforms, screens media content carefully.
Ann Hui, a respected Hong Kong director, said she was careful about portraying a Chinese policewoman in her Chinese-financed love story "Goddess of Mercy."
"The Chinese censorship system bans quite a few topics," including sex, violence and "the dark side of real life," she said.
Some film industry insiders fear China's ideological control is stifling creativity in this freewheeling former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
"When the trend is to seek out mainland Chinese investment, topics set in mainland China and relying on the Chinese market, it's hurting the fundamental quality that's unique to Hong Kong movies," director Stanley Kwan said.
William Pfeiffer, chief executive of Hong Kong-based Celestial Pictures, said many believe one of the territory's most celebrated movies in recent years, "Infernal Affairs," would not have been made, given its theme. (The crime thriller, which inspired the Academy Award-winning "The Departed," portrays an undercover gangster's success in infiltrating the police.)
But Hong Kong filmmakers have shown a pragmatic streak, saying they're willing to work within China's content constraints.
"Sometimes when you're inspired, you can make a good movie even if you accept compromises," Hui said.
Veteran actor Andy Lau holds up his new movie about a drug lord's downfall, "Protege," as an example of the kind of diversity possible in China-oriented movies.
Despite its subject matter, the movie was cleared by Chinese censors, but Lau said: "We changed it to an ethically inspiring movie about the kind of disaster drugs inflict upon people. We convey in every scene that using drugs is wrong."
Filmmakers also say money-minded Hong Kong movie investors have always practiced self-censorship.
"When it comes to movies that are harshly critical of the government, tell me, how many Hong Kong movies have very political topics?" Kwan asked.
Hui said in the 1970s and '80s, Hong Kong investors considered love stories risky unless they featured big stars.
And producer Andre Morgan maintains that the harshness of Chinese censors is overstated.
"I'm just kind of bored with all of this nonsense I read in the Western press and even the Asian English-language press that makes the censors out to be these mysterious bad guys you can't deal with. This is not accurate," he said.
Despite the greater effort to cater to mainland Chinese tastes, the ultraviolent, fast-paced gangster thrillers that harken back to Woo still remain. Director Johnnie To has continued Woo's legacy with his gang movies, "Election" and "Election 2."
Yau Nai-hoi, who wrote the two To movies, said it's still possible to make distinctive local movies as long as filmmakers budget according to expected returns.
"It's about the math," he said.
Pfeiffer said Hong Kong stars, directors and writers who work in China still apply their unique brand of creativity to Chinese projects.
"Yes, if you're shooting in China you have to play by the censorship rules there, but in any case, it still will have the look and feel of Hong Kong picture," he said.
May 17th, 2007, 08:04 AM
Chow Yun-fat tentatively agrees to return to John Woo's new film, says investor's publicist
14 May 2007
HONG KONG (AP) - Chow Yun-fat has tentatively agreed to rejoin the cast of John Woo's new Chinese epic, "Red Cliff," a publicist for one of the investors said Monday.
Chow dropped out of the film as shooting began last month. The 51-year-old Hong Kong actor claimed he got the script late and didn't have time to prepare, an allegation that Woo's producer, Terence Chang, has disputed.
His departure generated headlines because of Chow's famous on-screen partnership with Woo. The filmmaker made Chow an icon after casting him in the 1986 Hong Kong classic "A Better Tomorrow."
Tony Leung Chiu-wai then agreed to step into Chow's role as the general Zhou Yu. Leung had previously left "Red Cliff" because he said it came too soon after his last movie. He was replaced by Taiwanese-Japanese heartthrob Takeshi Kaneshiro in the role of strategist Zhuge Liang.
Now Chow wants back in, too, after a round of negative press has given the impression that he was behaving like a prima donna.
Although he hasn't yet signed a contract, Chow has verbally agreed to return for a role to be determined, said Wen Wengli, spokesman for the state-run China Film Group.
However, major casting decisions won't be changed, he said.
At a press conference last week, Woo said Chow's withdrawal dealt him a heavy blow while he paid an emotional tribute to Leung for taking Chow's place.
May 21st, 2007, 10:23 AM
After filming in mountains of China's west, Tsui Hark's new movie set in seas near Japan
15 May 2007
HONG KONG (AP) - Veteran Hong Kong director Tsui Hark has a soft spot for exotic locations.
After shooting a kung fu epic in the mountains of China's far west, Tsui's new movie will be filmed partly underwater in seas off Japan's westernmost Yonaguni Island, Tsui's wife Nansun Shi said Tuesday.
She said the new movie, "Missing," is about a couple who disappear while trying to recover an engagement ring hidden in ancient undersea ruins.
Shi, one of the movie's producers, said her husband, the crew and cast have taken a three-week intensive diving course to prepare for the shoot.
Budgeted at US$8 million (euro5.9 million), "Missing" stars Chang Chen from "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," Malaysian actress Lee Sin-je and Hong Kong's Isabella Leong. It's scheduled to start shooting later this month, Shi said.
She said Tsui will also shoot in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taiwan.
Tsui has shown a penchant for far-flung locations recently.
In 2005, he released "Seven Swords," shot in the mountains of the remote northwestern Chinese region Xinjiang. "Seven Swords" is about a group of kung fu masters who defy an imperial ban on martial arts.
Another Tsui movie, "Triangle," will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival that kicks off Wednesday.
"Triangle," which Tsui co-directed with fellow Hong Kong directors Johnnie To and Ringo Lam, is about a woman afraid of her husband's violent tendencies.
Tsui's credits include "Once Upon A Time in China," starring Jet Li, as well as "Knock Off" and "Double Team," both of which featured Jean-Claude Van Damme.
June 1st, 2007, 03:48 AM
Oscar-winning director snubbed by Hong Kong cinemas
HONG KONG, May 28, 2007 (AFP) - A Hong Kong director has been snubbed in her home city where film distributors have shown no interest in her Oscar-winning documentary about AIDS in central China, a report said Monday.
Filmmaker Ruby Yang complained that there was a lack of interest in Blood of Yingzhou District, which won an Oscar earlier this year, even though it has been shown across the United States, the South China Morning Post reported.
"The film will be shown in August at the film festival here, but we haven't been approached by distributors in Hong Kong," Yang was quoted as saying.
"A 40-minute film is hard to market and people have to care about the subject," she said, blaming the distributors' preference for commercially rewarding films and the lack of independent cinemas.
Cine-Art, one of two Hong Kong cinemas that showed alternative films, closed last year after struggling to cover its costs.
Chan Lai-ying, the managing director of film distributor Gold Harbour International, said the Hong Kong market for documentaries was too small for the film to be shown here.
"People here like to see movies with stars and actors they recognise," he was quoted as saying.
Blood of Yingzhou District follows a toddler who has contracted HIV from his parents and a young orphan who lives with her older sister.
June 20th, 2007, 06:33 AM
Hong Kong films showcased at Sydney Film Festival
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Government Press Release
Three highly-acclaimed Hong Kong films will be screened in this year's Sydney Film Festival, promising to provide Australian viewers, once again, with a fascinating glimpse of the ingenuity and creativity of Hong Kong's talent.
Addressing more than 200 guests this evening (June 19, Sydney time) before the screening of one of the films, the Director of the HKETO, Mrs Jenny Wallis, said the Hong Kong Cinema programme also marked the start of HKETO's celebrations for the 10th anniversary of the reunification of Hong Kong with the People's Republic of China on 1 July 1997.
In the run-up to 1997, there were many who raised questions about the future of Hong Kong, Mrs Wallis noted. But, ten years on, "Hong Kong is in rude good health", she said. "Our economy has been reaching new highs; our artistic talent is flourishing; and most importantly, our way of life and all the freedoms we had enjoyed before 1997 have not diminished, and nor will they."
Mrs Wallis said that Hong Kong films were gaining increasing recognition internationally, as reflected in the awards they have received from international film festivals and in the moves by Hollywood to acquire the rights to re-make Hong Kong movies.
"Indeed, celebrated US director Martin Scorsese's 2006 film 'The Departed' – which won him an Oscar for best director at the 79th Academy Awards in February this year – was based on the popular 2002 Hong Kong crime thriller, 'Infernal Affairs'."
The Hong Kong Government, she said, was also playing its part behind the scenes to encourage the film industry.
"We're promoting 'Hong Kong on location' as a film centre with the facilities, expertise and support for every movie occasion. And because the film industry has such a major influence on Hong Kong's creative sector, this year's Budget set aside $300 million for the establishment of a new fund to help finance film production and overcome the shortage of talent."
The three outstanding Hong Kong productions, all of them having their Australian premiere at the Festival, are "Eye in the Sky" directed by Yau Nai-hoi and starring Simon Yam, Tony Leung Ka-fai and Kate Tsui; "After This Our Exile" directed by Patrick Tam and starring Aaron Kwok, Charlie Young; as well as "The Heavenly Kings" directed by Daniel Wu and starring Conroy Chan and Andrew Lin.
June 20th, 2007, 07:06 AM
June 22nd, 2007, 03:50 AM
Hong Kong movies refocus to mainland
By Cherise Fong
HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- In the decade since the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China, local movie-makers have faced daunting changes in the industry. A trend of fewer films being produced each year in Hong Kong at the time of the handover has continued into the 21st century.
People in Hong Kong's industry point to several causes for the comparatively leaner times: a lack of opportunities for new acting talent, inadequate training and schooling for people who produce movies and changing tastes within the Hong Kong public.
At the same time, local film-makers have had to refocus their cameras for a new audience: mainland China.
"The Hong Kong film industry came to a rude awakening [in the late 1990s] that the world was changing faster than it was in the age of new delivery systems for home entertainment and the Internet," says Bede Cheng, a local film archivist and curator. "Unfortunately, it seemed to be blinded by the 'golden age' of the '80s, where any film could easily rack in over $1.3 million."
The box office numbers are sobering. In the early 1990s, Hong Kong released around 200 local features a year. By 1997, that number dropped to 85 films grossing $69 million, according to the Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories Motion Picture Industry Association (MPIA).
By 2006, those figures slumped to 51 films grossing $37 million. Ten years ago, the top 10 grossing films accounted for 47 percent of the total box-office return; today, the portion is 58 percent.
"1997, unfortunately, coincides with the beginning of the collapse of the local film industry -- a well-documented fact," says screenwriter Jimmy Ngai. "On the other hand, it also commenced the opening up of the mainland market.
"The result is that the industry has grown more and more accustomed to looking north for both investment and box return -- nothing political, but more of a survival instinct. What needs not to be spelt out for film-makers venturing north is that one plays according to what goes with the territory."
The new Chinese market has translated into an emphasis in contrasts of Hong Kong-made films, says film archivist Cheng.
"Today production is down, with many majors like Chinastar and Golden Harvest scaling back," he says. "Most films are high-end productions with big stars, or low-end made with a shoestring budget for an easier return.
"The number of screens is also down, with the consolidation of more multiplexes, usually owned or partly owned by distributors, which already have a steady supply of foreign films to fill the screens. Some once video distributors like Mei Ah and Universe have gone into production as a way to keep the pipeline flowing."
In 2006, Hong Kong closed five small cinemas and re-opened one multiplex. Gary Mak, director of Broadway Cinematheque -- Hong Kong's last-remaining alternative-screening venue -- remains optimistic about more adventurous programming and distribution. But Mak points to a shortage of creativity in the local industry.
"No talents, no formal training, in most areas such as script-writing, directing, acting, etc," he says. "Even the independent scene still needs more real talents -- or at least, real producers to pull together a really good project."
Tim Youngs, Hong Kong consultant for Italy's Far East Film Festival, says changing tastes among Hong Kong movie-goers has also affected the industry.
"Audiences have become increasingly dismissive of local movies, often referring to them as poor quality, and there are much fewer paying cinemagoers these days.
"So the hometown audience shows less support for local movies, whether by not seeing local films or opting for piracy, while the declining number of films means less opportunities for film-makers, fewer chances to try out new things, and damage to confidence."
Elizabeth Kerr, film critic and curator formerly based in Seoul, South Korea, agrees with Youngs' assessment.
"For all the risk-taking businessmen out there [in Hong Kong], no one is willing to put their money where their mouth is and throw in some support.
"The industry for the most part suffers from the cleave between that fluff -- which makes money -- and the more adult film-making of the smaller studios, distributors and indies."
How is South Korea's film industry different from its Hong Kong counterpart? "The drive to attain world adoration," Kerr says. "Koreans truly believe they're making great art all the time. South Korea launched an active campaign on all levels -- corporate, government, education -- to train and cultivate a modern film industry."
Still, Kerr sees reason for optimism. Films that best retain a Hong Kong style, Kerr maintains, likely carry "Category III" (under 18 not allowed) ratings: Movies that are "grown up and smart," she says.
"Even if the films don't work, someone tried."
In the end, it may be culture that poses one of the greatest challenges for Hong Kong's movie industry.
"Around 1997, like lots of Hong Kong people, I kind of lost myself," says independent film-maker Chan Wing-chiu. "The film industry was already almost dead in the '90s. Why work for a sunset industry?"
Chan's own first feature in 2005, "A Side, B Side, Sea Side," includes a scene with a gaggle of girls on Hong Kong's Cheung Chau island who are unable to communicate in Chinese with an Australian man speaking fluent Mandarin. The two parties end up conversing in English.
"That's me," says Chan, referring to the girls. "I speak English better than Putonghua [China's official common language, also known as Mandarin]. Many Chinese say that now that Hong Kong is part of China, Hong Kong people must learn Putonghua. I disagree. In Hong Kong we all speak Cantonese. Hong Kong already has a bad reputation for Putonghua, but I don't feel ashamed. I'm proud to have grown up during the transition between 1997 and SAR.
"Why do we have so many problems with China? Because our language, our culture, our values, our way of thinking are different. So we are not good at speaking Putonghua. Even in the cinema, we see Western movies, Japanese movies, Korean movies... but not many Chinese movies."
Adds independent director Yan-yan Mak: "We are monsters. China says: 'You are not Chinese.' Gweilos [Hong Kong slang for Caucasians] say: 'You are Chinese.' After 1997, we lost the confidence to be Hong Kong people."
Find this article at:
July 20th, 2007, 05:41 PM
Hong Kong films showcased at Auckland International Film Festival
Friday, July 20, 2007
Government Press Release
Auckland International Film Festival 2007 will bring before its audiences two highly-acclaimed Hong Kong films, promising to provide New Zealand viewers with a fascinating glimpse of the ingenuity and creativity of Hong Kong's talent.
This is the first time that the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Sydney (HKETO) has participated in the Film Festival as a cultural partner.
Speaking this evening (July 20, Sydney time) before the screening of one of the films, the Director of the HKETO, Mrs Jenny Wallis, said the Auckland International Film Festival provided a marvellous showcase for the Hong Kong film industry. She said the Hong Kong Cinema programme also formed part of HKETO's celebrations marking a milestone in the continuing Hong Kong story - the 10th anniversary of the reunification of Hong Kong with the People's Republic of China on 1 July 1997.
In the run-up to 1997, there had been many doubts and questions raised about the future of Hong Kong, Mrs Wallis noted. Indeed, there were a number of overseas commentators who even pronounced the death knell for Hong Kong. But, ten years on, the city was in rude good health, she said.
"Our economy has been reaching new highs, much of it on the back of China's astonishing growth; our artistic talent is flourishing; and, most importantly, our way of life and all the freedoms we enjoyed under the previous British administration have not diminished, nor will they."
She said that HK films were gaining increasing recognition internationally, as reflected in the awards they had received at international film festivals, and also in the moves by Hollywood to acquire rights to remake Hong Kong movies.
"Indeed, celebrated US director Martin Scorsese's 2006 film The Departed - which won him an Oscar for best director at the 79th Academy Awards in February this year - was based on the popular 2002 Hong Kong crime thriller, Infernal Affairs."
The Hong Kong Government, she said, was also playing its part behind the scene to encourage the film industry.
"We're promoting 'Hong Kong on location' as a film centre with the facilities, expertise and support for every movie occasion. And because the film industry has such a major influence on Hong Kong's creative sector, this year's Budget has set aside $300 million for the establishment of a new fund to help finance film production and overcome the shortage of talent."
The two Hong Kong productions showcased at the Festival are "Exiled" directed by Johnnie To and starring Anthony Wong, Simon Yam Tat-wah, Francis Ng Chun-yu, Josie Ho, Lam Suet and Richie Ren Yan-qi; and "Eye in The Sky" directed by Yau Nai-hoi and starring Simon Yam, Tony Leung Ka-fai, Kate Tusi, and Maggie Shiu Mei-kei.
July 29th, 2007, 09:20 AM
Hong Kong feels like a movie set because it is
Rory Boland, a freelance writer in Warsaw, can be reached at rorybo @yahoo.com.
15 July 2007
The Boston Globe
HONG KONG - For a territory of just 7 million people, Hong Kong punches well above its weight on the international film scene. Its stars have become household names and its films cult hits around the world. In its heyday in the 1980s, Hong Kong was second only to the Hollywood machine in churning out productions. It is no surprise, then, that visitors arriving here often experience a heavy bout of deja vu. Usually they have seen it all before - on film.
Few cities have been captured on film as often as Hong Kong. Its unique mix of dizzying skyscrapers and unrepentant capitalism, next to tin-roofed markets and unchanging tradition, remains powerfully iconic.
The obvious place to start any tour of the city's movie locations is the Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong's answer to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Alongside the handprints of Hong Kong's great and good, there is a monument to the city's favorite son, Bruce Lee. The martial arts master, who died in 1973 at 32 after putting Hong Kong movies on the map, is still adored here and around the world, and his lifelike statue is where fans come to pay their respects.
Running along the Kowloon waterfront, the avenue is the perfect spot to take in the iconic skyline of Hong Kong Island. Watch for the nightly "Symphony of Lights" show, when the buildings across the harbor fire up their sound and spotlights and dazzle visitors with a mammoth spectacular.
The Bruce Lee trail continues just up the road from the Avenue of Stars, at the Miramar Hotel. It was here that a former James Bond, George Lazenby, and Hong Kong producer Raymond Chow were waiting to dine with Lee when the kung-fu star was discovered dead in his Hong Kong mansion. Locations from Lee's films are citywide, with the bustling Aberdeen market from the opening of "Enter the Dragon" becoming a pilgrimage hot spot.
Set in Hong Kong's prime tourist belt, filled with bargain seekers trawling for discounted electronics, the Miramar was also home to Chow Yun-Fat before he hit the big screen. The "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" star first flexed his muscles lugging suitcases around the hotel as its resident bellboy. Chow aficionados can also take a ferry out to Lamma Island to see where he grew up.
A few doors down from the Miramar, yet a world away from the pristine shopping malls and gleaming hotels, are the infamous Chungking Mansions, featured in "Chungking Express," by award- winning director Wong Kar Wai. Chungking's tattered interior, warrenlike corridors, and ramshackle shops made the perfect setting for Wong's brooding cult classic.
Inhabited by Hong Kong's rainbow of immigrants, the mansions have cleaned up their act considerably since Wong took his cameras inside, yet the chaotic market atmosphere and grit-and-grime interior remain. The mansions were voted Time magazine's "Best Example of Globalization in Action" and are the perfect place to enjoy some of the best Indian food outside Mumbai, as well as a slightly less clean-cut slice of Hong Kong.
If Chungking is Hong Kong's offbeat zone, Central, on Hong Kong Island, is its essence. Streets banked by skyscrapers are home to high-flying bankers and international playboys and have proved fertile ground for filmmakers.
You can hitch a lift to Central on a green Star Ferry, the service that has carried passengers between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island since the 1870s. One of the ferry's famous passengers was William Holden, in the 1960 tearjerker "The World of Suzie Wong." The Bond movie "Die Another Day" had a fearless Pierce Brosnan plunge into the murky waters of Victoria Harbor on his way to the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club.
Central has provided the backdrop for a raft of international blockbusters. In "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life," Angelina Jolie careered off the top of Hong Kong's tallest skyscraper, 2 International Finance Centre or IFC2, while action man Wesley Snipes performed the same feat, a little less elegantly, in "The Art of War."
One of Central's main attractions is Lan Kwai Fong, a den of streets buzzing with restaurants and bars. Alan Mak and Andy Lau's award-winning "Infernal Affairs," adapted by Martin Scorsese into "The Departed," set one of its deadliest shootouts on the area's Pottinger Street. The colonial police station carved into the end of the street has also been the backdrop to several gun battles.
Although celluloid Hong Kong might be full of do-or-die fights, the only battles you are likely to see in the city are for a table at one of the many prestigious restaurants, some in Lan Kwai Fong.
Also on the island waterfront is Wan Chai, Hong Kong's home of hedonism. Wan Chai has had a reputation for naughtiness since before the Vietnam War, when its women of the night entertained US soldiers on leave. Wan Chai's reputation inspired the Suzie Wong novel and film. Several scenes in the Jackie Chan comedy "Rush Hour 2" were filmed along the strip of clubs and bars on Lockhart Road.
If you want a martini shaken, not stirred, head for the Bottoms Up Club, where Roger Moore made an appearance in another Bond film, "The Man With the Golden Gun." The club was originally in Tsim Sha Tsui, but moved across the harbor, keeping the shady design and even shadier clientele that are seen in the movie.
Bottom s Up Club
37-39 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai
August 1st, 2007, 12:41 PM
Quota eliminated on HK films Guangdong allowed to import
31 July 2007
South China Morning Post
Hong Kong movies are expected to receive a boost in Guangdong after the provincial government eased import restrictions on movies from the city, the Guangdong Cultural Department said.
The department was quoted in a mainland newspaper at the weekend as saying the provincial government had secured the approval of the mainland's State Administration of Radio Film and Television (Sarft) to select and import, without any import quotas, movies funded and produced in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong films that suited the tastes of Guangdong's cinemagoers would be chosen, although these would still need final approval from Sarft before they may be shown, the department said. No detail or timetable for the new arrangement had been officially announced.
"I think the new arrangement by the Guangdong government will benefit those small-budget, local-taste movies," said Alvin Lam, chief operating officer of Universe International Holdings, a local movie-maker.
For small-scale productions, the new arrangement could add HK$2 million to HK$3 million to their box office receipts, while big-budget movies could expect HK$4 million to HK$5 million, Mr Lam estimated.
"Supposing those small-scale productions expected HK$3 million in box office receipts in Hong Kong, the new arrangement may double their revenue," he said.
The Hong Kong movie industry has been fighting for access to the mainland market.
Under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa), a Hong Kong movie may be regarded as a mainland movie if it is co-produced with a mainland company. These movies, with budgets of more than HK$30 million, may be launched in cinemas nationwide.
August 2nd, 2007, 02:20 PM
'Shrek' animator to join Hong Kong studio Imagi
2 August 2007
HONG KONG (AP) - A veteran animator at DreamWorks has decided to join Hong Kong studio Imagi, which made the recent computer animated movie "TMNT," Imagi said Thursday.
Tim Cheung, a Hong Kong-raised, U.S.-educated animator who was at DreamWorks for 12 years and worked on the "Shrek" trilogy, has been named vice president for animation, Imagi said in a statement.
The 35-year-old Cheung, who studied at the Pratt Institute in New York City, will manage Imagi's more than 400 Hong Kong-based animators and work on its upcoming films "Gatchaman" and "Astro Boy," which are based on Japanese cartoon characters.
Imagi's statement quoted Michael DiComo, computer graphics supervisor at George Lucas' famed special effects studio Industrial Light & Magic, as calling Cheung "one of the very best animators in the world."
Imagi, which once made artificial Christmas trees before switching over to computer animation, released "TMNT" in March.
The movie, a take-off on the 1990's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" films, made US$54 million (euro39.5 million) at the U.S. box office and US$93 million (euro68.1 million) worldwide, according to the box office tracking Web site Box Office Mojo.
August 23rd, 2007, 03:48 AM
Report: Hong Kong director plans Bruce Lee biopic
22 August 2007
HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong director Fruit Chan plans to make a film about Bruce Lee's early years -- the latest in several projects about the kung fu movie icon, a news report said Wednesday.
Chan told Chinese news Web site Sina.com that the Chinese-language movie, "Kowloon City," will be produced by John Woo's producer Terence Chang.
Chan said he hasn't yet cast an actor to play Lee in the movie, according to Sina.com.
The movie will be set in 1950s Hong Kong, revolving around the fortunes of Lee and another young kung fu student, Sina.com cited Chan as saying.
The report did not say who will fund "Kowloon City."
Chang didn't immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment, and Chan didn't immediately return a call.
Chan, whose credits include "Made in Hong Kong," "Hollywood Hong Kong" and "Durian Durian," is known for his movies portraying Hong Kong's working class.
Another Hong Kong director, Stanley Kwan, said earlier he was negotiating with Lee's family for approval to shoot a movie about the late action movie star.
Kwan said his movie, backed by Chinese funding, will explore how Lee was influenced by the absence of his father, and how he brought up his own son, Brandon Lee.
In April, Chinese state media reported that the country's national broadcaster has started filming a 40-part TV series on Bruce Lee in an apparent bid to promote Chinese culture ahead of next year's Beijing Summer Olympics.
Bruce Lee was born in San Francisco but his family returned to Hong Kong, where he grew up. He went back to the United States to study philosophy at the University of Washington and married in 1964 in Seattle, where he opened his first martial arts school.
He later opened a school in Los Angeles where a producer saw him in a kung fu demonstration and cast him as Kato in the "Green Hornet" TV show.
Lee is known for films in which he portrayed characters that defended the Chinese and the working classes from oppressors.
The best-known biographical film on Lee is "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story," starring Jason Scott Lee, which was released in 1993. Jason Scott Lee is not related to Bruce Lee.
August 23rd, 2007, 03:49 AM
Jackie Chan's 'Rush Hour 3' struggles at Hong Kong box office
21 August 2007
HONG KONG (AP) - Jackie Chan's new action comedy "Rush Hour 3" may have performed well at the U.S. box office, but it apparently hasn't clicked with his fellow Hong Kongers.
The movie has made only 4 million Hong Kong dollars ($512,000) in the five days since it opened in Hong Kong on Thursday, distributor Celestial Pictures said Tuesday.
By comparison, Chan's action comedy "Rob-B-Hood" made 6.3 million HK dollars in Hong Kong in its first three days last year, as did his 2005 action epic "The Myth."
"Rush Hour 3" meanwhile topped the U.S. box office in its opening weekend, making $49.1 million in the U.S. and Canada. In the two weeks since it opened, the movie has notched up nearly $88 million.
New Line Cinema's "Rush Hour" series, comedies that revolve around the racial and social differences between a pair of police officers -- one Chinese (Chan) and the other black (Chris Tucker). The series has been critical in establishing Chan's reputation in Hollywood.
The first installment, "Rush Hour," released in 1998, was the first Chan movie to break the $100 million mark at the U.S. box office, earning more than $141 million, according to figures compiled by the box office tracking Web site Box Office Mojo.
Chan won't be able to test "Rush Hour 3" on the larger Chinese audience because the leading distributor in mainland China has decided not to import it. An executive at the state-run China Film Group said the company didn't think the film had a market in China.
Hollywood trade publication Variety, however, reported that Chinese officials were concerned about scenes that involve Chan and Tucker's characters battling Chinese gangsters.
New Line is a unit of Time Warner Inc.
August 30th, 2007, 05:08 AM
Chan Suffers Back Pain During Filming
27 August 2007
HONG KONG (AP) - Jackie Chan suffered back pain while wrapping up filming of "The Forbidden Kingdom," his first collaboration with Jet Li.
Chan said in his Web blog that he aggravated an old back injury when shooting scenes last week in China that required him to throw someone upward.
The 53-year-old Hong Kong actor said he was "in excruciating pain" when he woke up the next day, and "could barely get myself out of my bed."
Chan said he also felt pain when filming scenes with Li.
"I had to walk down three steps and join Jet Li for one scene, and each time my feet hit the steps, pain shot through my back," he said.
He said the pain had persisted for at least two days.
A separate statement Monday on Chan's Web site said the action star is "recovering nicely."
Chan has suffered numerous injuries during his career. He said in a 2005 interview that he usually feels pain in his waist, knees and shoulders when he wakes up.
"The Forbidden Kingdom," expected to be released in the U.S. next spring, is about an American teen's fantasy journey to ancient China to rescue a mythological monkey king.
"Rush Hour 3," starring Chan and Chris Tucker, was released earlier this month.
August 30th, 2007, 06:27 AM
oh i hasn't watch Rush Hour 3
September 5th, 2007, 04:56 PM
Hollywood is set to remake another Hong Kong action thriller, 'Breaking News'
The Associated Press
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
HONG KONG: A Hollywood movie producer said Wednesday he plans to remake the Hong Kong action thriller "Breaking News" with "Batman Forever" director Joel Schumacher.
The new project is the latest of several U.S. remakes of Hong Kong movies, a trend that started with the 2002 crime thriller "Infernal Affairs," which Martin Scorsese remade as the Oscar-winning "The Departed."
"British writer Alex de Rakoff is attached to write. Joel Schumacher is attached to direct," said producer Guy Danella in an e-mail to The Associated Press. Actors and budget will be decided when the script is written, he said.
Schumacher's directing credits include "Batman Forever," "Bad Company," "The Client" and "St. Elmo's Fire."
"Breaking News," directed by Johnnie To in 2004, is about the live broadcast of a police hunt for five bank robbers.
To, who also directed the gangster movies "Election" and "Election 2," is one of the few Hong Kong filmmakers who continues to make the stylish action thrillers the city is noted for.
Hollywood is also planning to remake the 2006 crime thriller "Confession of Pain."
The movie: http://us.yesasia.com/en/PrdDept.aspx/code-c/section-videos/pid-1004377633/
September 5th, 2007, 07:40 PM
September 7th, 2007, 02:04 PM
Hong Kong Movie Surprise Film in Venice
17 hours ago
VENICE, Italy (AP) — "Mad Detective," by Hong Kong directors Johnnie To and Wai Ka-fai, is this year's surprise entry at the Venice Film Festival.
It's a psychological thriller about a rookie police officer teaming up with a former colleague to bring a serial killer to justice.
Its multifaceted characters show "the many devils that animate our soul," Wai told reporters at a news conference on Thursday.
Wai also said the movie aims to show that "it isn't true that Chinese directors only make action movies."
"Mad Detective" is the second consecutive Chinese movie chosen as the festival's surprise entry. Last year's mystery film, "Still Life," ended up winning the Golden Lion.
Festival director Marco Mueller introduced the surprise entry when he took creative control in 2004, adding a bit of intrigue and spice to the festival program. They have so far all been Asian films.
(This version CORRECTS second reference to Wai, sted Ka-fai.)
September 7th, 2007, 02:05 PM
Hong Kong director Fruit Chan plans remake of 1996 Japanese horror movie
The Associated Press
Friday, September 7, 2007
HONG KONG: Hong Kong filmmaker Fruit Chan plans to direct an English-language remake of a 1996 Japanese horror movie, about a director haunted by the ghost of a murdered actress on a film set, the production company said Friday.
South African-owned movie company Distant Horizon said in a statement on its Web site that Chan will start shooting the remake of Japanese director Hideo Nakata's "Don't Look Up" in Romania later this year, and that casting is underway.
Distant Horizon did not immediately respond to an e-mail asking about the film's budget.
The Hollywood trade publication Variety reported Friday that the film will mark Chan's English-language film debut.
Chan, whose credits include "Made in Hong Kong," "Hollywood Hong Kong" and "Durian Durian," is known for movies portraying Hong Kong's working class. However, his last work was the horror film "Dumplings," about a retired actress who eats special dumplings to achieve youth.
"I was happy to take on the remake. For too long I've been labeled as an art-house director. I'm a director," Variety quoted Chan as saying.
Chan did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Japanese director Nakata is best known for his 1998 horror film "Ring," remade in English in a 2002 production starring Naomi Watts.
September 14th, 2007, 02:46 PM
Film review: 'Exodus' most creative Hong Kong movie in recent years
14 September 2007
HONG KONG (AP) - It may not have a star-studded cast, violent gun fights or exotic locations, but "Exodus" is a rare piece of creative cinema in Hong Kong's struggling film industry.
It's a tribute to the talent of rising Hong Kong director Pang Ho-cheung, who turns a far-fetched, bizarre plot -- about a Hong Kong police detective who investigates a secret female organization that plots the assassination of men -- into a tasteful, humorous movie.
"Exodus" is an improvement upon his last work, "Isabella," which was well-done but too showy in its imagery.
In "Exodus," Pang uses simple, clean cinematography and attention to detail to create a quiet but effective narrative -- silent scenes of police officer Jim Yip (Simon Yam) walking up stairs in a sleek building or waiting quietly on a porch for his wife to finish teaching yoga.
He brilliantly portrays the loneliness of Yip, also thanks to a refined performance by Yam, showing him faithfully drinking homemade tea made by his wife while meticulously taking notes during an interrogation.
Pang also portrays a Hong Kong that's unusually peaceful and lonely -- a stark contrast from the busy nightlife usually associated with the territory -- choosing settings like an isolated trailer and a rundown sports field.
Pang's use of space and dialogue is also tastefully sparse, like the futuristic looking soundproof interrogation room where Yip interviews the foul-mouthed suspected voyeur Kwan, hilariously portrayed by Nick Cheung.
The director's dark humor is dead-on, such as the random opening scene featuring men in snorkeling gear staging an attack with hammers or a meeting of the secret man-killing terror organization where women carefully take notes while an instructor explains how to kill by modifying a TV set so that it leaks electricity.
September 14th, 2007, 07:49 PM
Ang Lee's new spy thriller 'Lust, Caution' gets strictest rating in Hong Kong
14 September 2007
HONG KONG (AP) - Oscar-winning director Ang Lee's new spy thriller "Lust, Caution" has received the strictest rating from Hong Kong censors, likely over its explicit sex scenes, after facing similar viewing restrictions in the U.S, a publicist said Friday.
Meanwhile, the movie's fate in mainland China, known for its prudish censors, remains unclear, another publicist said.
"Lust, Caution," which won the top Golden Lion prize at the Venice Film Festival last week, has drawn attention because of its strong sexuality.
The movie, based on a short story by famed Chinese writer Eileen Chang, is about a group of patriotic students who plot to assassinate the intelligence chief in the Japanese-backed Chinese government during the World War II era.
Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai plays the intelligence official Mr. Yi, while newcomer Tang Wei plays the Chinese student Wang Jiazhi, who seduces Yi to pave way for the assassination. The movie also features Joan Chen from "The Last Emperor" and Chinese-American pop star Leehom Wang.
The sex scenes involving Leung and Tang have become a hot topic among movie fans.
Hollywood trade publication Variety reported earlier that the movie features lovemaking from "provocative" sexual positions, implied oral sex and full female frontal nudity.
"Lust, Caution" was rated "NC-17" in the U.S., where it will be released on Sept. 28, meaning it's banned from viewers younger than 17. In Hong Kong, censors have rated it "Category III," which bans viewers younger than 18, Cyrus Man, a publicist for the movie's Hong Kong and China distributor, Edko Films Ltd., said.
A spokeswoman for Hong Kong's Film Censorship Authority wasn't immediately available for comment on the reasons for the strict rating, although Man said the rating was expected. "Lust, Caution" is scheduled to be released in Hong Kong Sept. 25.
Zhang Hongyan, a spokeswoman for Edko's Beijing office, said the film has been submitted to Chinese censors but she hasn't heard about the result. She said a release date hasn't been set.
Director Lee, who won best director Oscar last year for the gay romance "Brokeback Mountain," likely faced a difficult editing process because he needed to provide a cut suitable for all ages. China doesn't have a ratings system.
"They (Chinese censors) didn't edit my movie. I edited it myself. They explained to me that everyone has to be able to watch the movie," Lee told Chinese reporters in Venice last week.
Meanwhile, actor Leung was quoted as saying Friday that he didn't hold back when shooting the sex scenes with Tang.
"These scenes are very important. They weren't designed to generate buzz. I portrayed those scenes as artistic performance. I couldn't hold myself back too much," Leung said, according to Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily.
October 22nd, 2007, 11:59 AM
Gov't Press Release:
Film Development Council Secretary-General appointed (http://info.gov.hk/gia/general/200710/22/P200710220129.htm)
October 22nd, 2007, 02:44 PM
always love HK's movies and dramas.
October 26th, 2007, 12:13 PM
Hong Kong director Wayne Wang hits out at Chinese censorship
MADRID, Sept 26, 2007 (AFP) - Hong Kong director Wayne Wang on Wednesday hit out at Chinese censorship as he presented his latest film "A Thousand Years of Good Prayers" about the Chinese immigrant experience in the US, at the San Sebastian Film Festival.
"I'm a little sad when I see people that can't make their movies in China. It's kind of depressing that censorship is still happening in an economically powerful China," he said.
Wang revealed that China was to have stumped up half the budget for the film but pulled out because it objected to a line in the script where a character says: "Communism is good, it just got into bad hands".
He explained: "They said you have to quit the line. But I didn't because I live in a democratic country."
The director has long been based in the United States and his parents fled for Hong Kong after the Communist takeover of 1949.
Asked about his thoughts on China's hosting of next year's Olympics, Wang said that the country would be welcoming but that when it came to press freedom he felt pessimistic.
"I think they will be open to foreigners, they will be very nice and let the journalists write about 80 to 90 percent of what they want, even criticise.
"But when Chinese journalists will want to write, they won't be able to.
"They (the authorities) will try to hide the problems and there are so many problems in China growing so fast," Wang said, while observing that "I hardly get information from China."
October 31st, 2007, 08:43 AM
Ang Lee's 'Lust, Caution' bags 11 nominations at Chinese Oscars
27 October 2007
HONG KONG (AP) - Ang Lee's spy thriller "Lust, Caution" bagged 11 nominations at his native Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards -- the Chinese-language equivalent of the Oscars -- including all major categories: best film, best director, best actor and best actress.
The shortlist offers some consolation to Lee, whose film was rejected by the Hong Kong Film Awards because too few Hong Kongers worked on the production. Oscar organizers also refused to accept "Lust, Caution" as Taiwan's entry for Oscar best foreign film because not enough Taiwanese were involved.
Lee was also nominated for Taiwanese filmmaker of the year.
"Lust, Caution," which recently won the top Golden Lion prize at the Venice Film Festival, is about the sexually charged relationship between an undercover activist (Tang Wei) and the Japanese-allied intelligence chief (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) in World War II-era Shanghai.
Also up for best film are Taiwanese director Niu Chen-zer's political satire "What on Earth Have I Done Wrong?!" Chinese director Wang Quanan's "Tuya's Marriage," his compatriot Zhang Yang's "Getting Home," and Tony Ayres' "The Home Song Stories."
"Tuya's Wedding," about an Inner Mongolian herdswoman who considers a second marriage to a wealthy man so she can afford to take care of her handicapped husband, won the top Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year.
"Getting Home" is about a migrant worker's journey taking his friend's corpse home and the Australian film "The Home Song Stories" follows a Hong Kong night club singer's struggles in Australia.
Wang is also up for best director, along with China's Li Yang and newcomer Yau Nai-hoi, a frequent script writer for famed Hong Kong director Johnnie To. Li was nominated for "Blind Mountain," about a Chinese woman unknowingly sold as a bride to a rural farmer, and Yau for the police thriller "Eye in the Sky."
The favorites in the best actor category are past Cannes winner Leung from "Lust, Caution" and two-time Golden Horse best actor winner Aaron Kwok, who was shortlisted for "The Detective."
The two Hong Kong actors will face off against Gurmit Singh from the comedy "Just Follow Law" and Chinese comedian Zhao Benshan from "Getting Home."
China's Tang, also from "Lust, Caution," will vie for best actress honors against veteran Joan Chen from "The Home Song Stories" and Chinese actresses Yu Nan ("Tuya's Marriage") and Li Bingbing ("The Knot").
China's entry for Oscar best foreign film, "The Knot," is tearjerker about lovers separated by the political divisions between mainland China and Taiwan.
October 31st, 2007, 08:46 AM
I love Ang Lee :cheers:
November 2nd, 2007, 06:50 PM
China firm to revive "Bruce Lee" HK studio
SHANGHAI/HONG KONG, Nov 2 (Reuters Life!) - A mainland Chinese entertainment group said it would invest nearly US$26 million to revive Hong Kong's Golden Harvest Entertainment, the film studio which discovered martial arts superstar Bruce Lee.
The investor, Chengtian Entertainment Group (International), said it would produce at least 20 films a year with Golden Harvest, which was once one of the most powerful forces in the Chinese-speaking film world.
Founded in 1970, Golden Harvest found early success with Lee and nurtured other top stars including Jackie Chan. It was one of the first Chinese studios to succeed in entering the Western market, also producing the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" films.
But its fortunes began to wane in the late 1990s as Hong Kong's film industry slumped, hit by piracy and a shift in tastes to Hollywood blockbusters. The firm posted an operating loss of HK$14.3 million in the year to June on revenue of HK$566 million.
Chengtian agreed to pay HK$202.14 million (US$25.9 million) to buy a 24.78 percent stake in Golden Harvest plus HK$20 million of convertible notes from the studio's founder Raymond Chow and related parties, Chengtian said on Thursday.
The mainland Chinese company, 20 percent owned by Japanese music producer Avex Group Holdings, will become the biggest shareholder in Golden Harvest.
"By combining our creativity and drive with Golden Harvest's rich experience and presence and platform in the Asian film market, we will raise our group's film business to a higher level," Chengtian Chairman Wu Kebo said in a statement.
The Chengtian deal could mean a return to large-scale film making for Golden Harvest. A few years ago, it largely withdrew from making films to focus on financing and distributing them.
In addition to financial backing, Chengtian may provide Golden Harvest with better access to mainland China's booming film market. The mainland firm makes and distributes films and television programs, produces music and manages performers.
Golden Harvest, which operates 33 cinema multiplexes with a total of 260 screens in Asia, could boost regional demand for Chengtian's films. (US$1 = HK$7.8) (US$1 = 7.45 yuan)
November 14th, 2007, 04:06 PM
LCQ20: Pay level of employees in film industry
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Government Press Release
Following is a question by the Hon Emily Lau and a written reply by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Professor K C Chan, (in the absence of the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development) in the Legislative Council today (November 14):
In July this year, the Finance Committee approved the Administration's proposal to inject $300 million into the Film Development Fund (FDF) to strengthen support for the local film industry. Nevertheless, I have learnt that junior assistant producers/directors in the film industry generally earn low salaries, work exceptionally long hours and lack medical protection. For example, while a television broadcasting company offers monthly salaries between $9,000 to $13,000 to newly recruited assistant producers/directors who are university degree holders, the salaries for equivalent positions in the film industry are far lower. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:
(a) whether they are aware of the low starting salaries of graduates from tertiary institutions entering the film industry, and whether they have examined if such a situation, in the long run, is not conducive to the recruitment of new blood by the film industry and has negative impact on the healthy development of the industry; and
(b) whether they will specify in the FDF's funding conditions that successful applicants will be required to:
(i) offer a certain number of trainee positions to students or graduates of film-related courses at tertiary institutions;
(ii) submit a report on their work on nurturing talents upon the completion of film production; and
(iii) offer salaries to junior level staff or new entrants at levels not lower than those for similar positions in television stations;
if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
There has been a substantial drop in the number of local film productions as well as box office revenues in recent years, particularly so for the small-to-medium budget films. This has on the one hand caused a drain of talents in the industry, and on the other hand decreased opportunities for new recruits to participate in production and receive training. To revive the local film industry and put in new impetus, the Government has introduced a host of support measures, including the injection of an additional $300 million to expand the Film Development Fund (FDF), so as to support the production of small-to-medium budget films.
My reply to the questions is as follows:
(a) The mode of operation of film production companies is unique. Generally speaking, production companies will normally employ production staff on short-term contracts when producing a new film. In contrast, television stations operate on a rather continual basis and remuneration of their staff is determined by the qualification, work experience and the prevailing market demand. It is thus difficult to make a direct comparison of employment terms and pay system between the two trades.
(b) The FDF is established to encourage commercial investment in production of small-to-medium budget films through market forces with a view to boosting production volume and creating more employment opportunities, improving the level of proficiency as well as nurturing talents for the film industry.
(i) Although the FDF does not require the funded film productions to offer a certain number of trainee positions to students or graduates of film related courses at tertiary institutions, the industry collaborates with the local tertiary institutions and various training bodies, offering trainee positions to budding film workers. Making this a compulsory requirement for fund application will restrain the flexibility in film production and will involve operational difficulties.
(ii) Given the different experience and background of various members of a film production crew, it is difficult to set objective training indicators. Requiring a report on nurturing talents upon the completion of the production of the funded film may present practical difficulties while not serving a useful purpose.
(iii) As the salaries of film workers cannot be directly compared with those of long-term employees of television stations, it is impracticable for the FDF to mandatorily require that film production companies offer salaries to junior level staff or new entrants at levels not lower than those permanent employees in similar positions in television stations, which is not in line with the mode of operation of the film industry. Generally speaking, film veterans and film workers with better performance receive higher pay. However, for the daily-rated workers (such as props men, mechanics, floor managers, tea service attendants and production assistants), under the co-ordination of the Federation of Hong Kong Film Workers, the employer and employee sides have agreed on the minimum daily wage. It is understood that the two sides have recently revised upward the minimum daily wage having regard to market trends.
The nurturing of talents for the film industry requires long-term and on-going efforts. The Government and the Film Development Council will continue to explore this issue actively and examine effective means for nurturing talents for the industry. As for the operation of the FDF, over-regulation will affect its operation and attractiveness, this may discourage commercial investment in the production of small-to-medium budget films, thereby resulting in the opposite. We must therefore strike a balance. Nevertheless, we will review the operation and requirements of the FDF from time to time, and consult the Legislative Council and the industry in order to ensure that the FDF is genuinely conducive to the long-term development of the local film industry.
November 15th, 2007, 02:09 PM
Hong Kong's Chow takes on Japanese cartoon
HONG KONG, Nov 15, 2007 (AFP) - Hong Kong comedian and director Stephen Chow will be producing the movie adaptation of popular Japanese manga cartoon "Dragon Ball" for 20th Century Fox, his company spokesman said Thursday.
But Chow, best known for "Kung Fu Hustle" and "Shaolin Soccer", turned down a Fox offer to direct the project, saying he would only take the helm for his own film ideas, the spokesman said.
"Dragon Ball" will be directed by James Wong, the 48-year-old who directed thrillers "Final Destination" and "Final Destination 3". It will star Justin Chatwin, who played Tom Cruise's son in "War of the Worlds" as Goku.
The spokesman said Chow, a fan of the Japanese comic, would want Asian and Chinese actors to feature in the film, a project that took two years to negotiate.
"Dragon Ball", created by Akira Toriyama in 1984, follows the adventures of a young martial artist named Son Goku who defends the Earth against evil as he collects the mystical Dragon Balls that give him incredible powers.
It has been made into an animated series in Hong Kong and has also been developed into video games.
November 21st, 2007, 03:54 AM
Hong Kong director Andrew Lau plans movie based on classic Chinese novel 'Water Margin'
16 November 2007
HONG KONG (AP) - Andrew Lau, the Hong Kong director whose crime thriller "Infernal Affairs" was remade by Martin Scorsese, plans to make a film based on the classic Chinese novel "Water Margin," a publicist said Friday.
"Water Margin," also known as "Outlaws of the Marsh," is about the battles between more than 100 rebels and feudal officials set in the 12th century.
Chan Ka-li, a publicist for Hong Kong-based Media Asia film company Friday confirmed the company is backing Lau's movie but said details were not immediately available.
The Hollywood trade publication Variety reported earlier the project is being planned as a HK$2 billion (US$260 million; euro176 million) Chinese-language trilogy, with Lau directing the first installment and fellow Hong Kong director Johnnie To making the second.
Ding Yuin-shan, an assistant to To, confirmed the director is in talks to direct a movie based on "Water Margin" but did not have further details.
The Variety report did not say who would direct the third installment.
Variety also reported that Media Asia was in talks with the influential state-run China Film Group about co-financing the movie. China Film Group spokesman Weng Li said he was not aware of the talks.
Lau rose to fame with the success of the 2002 film "Infernal Affairs," which follows a gangster who infiltrates the police and a police officer who goes undercover in a gang.
The movie was remade by Scorsese as "The Departed," which starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon and won best picture Oscar earlier this year.
Lau has since shot the Hollywood movie "The Flock," starring Richard Gere and Claire Danes.
An assistant to Lau said the director was out of town and unavailable for comment.
November 23rd, 2007, 10:23 AM
Jackie Chan in talks with 'Rush Hour' director Brett Ratner to set up movie company
20 November 2007
HONG KONG (AP) - Jackie Chan says he's in talks with Brett Ratner, the director of the "Rush Hour" series, to set up a movie company that specializes in Hollywood productions shot on location in China.
Chan revealed the possible venture in a blog entry on his official Web site Tuesday.
"The whole idea of this company is for China and America to cooperate so I can make American films in China and Brett can act as my consultant, giving me advice, and deciding whether or not the film would be suitable for the American market," he wrote, adding that Ratner may also scout for new directors.
Chan said the quickest way to set up the new company, which he said would be called "Chan Ratner Company," was for the two filmmakers to shoot another movie together.
Solon So, senior vice president of Chan's company, JC Group, said the two partners haven't agreed on any specific projects.
Ratner didn't immediately reply to a reporter's e-mail seeking comment.
Chan recently finished shooting the Hollywood movie "The Forbidden Kingdom" in China, which marks his first on-screen collaboration with fellow action star Jet Li.
Chan called Ratner a "very smart director" and "very quick learner."
He said earlier Ratner had matured as a director between the second and third "Rush Hour" installment.
While filming the third installment, "he knows which camera angles he wants to use and he has complete control of the set," Chan said in his blog at the time.
The trilogy has made a combined $507 million (346 million euros) so far, according to Box Office Mojo.
Since the success of "Rush Hour," Ratner went on to direct "Red Dragon" and "X-Men: The Last Stand."
January 23rd, 2008, 08:12 AM
Little-known Chow Yun-fat movie wins Hong Kong critics honors
23 January 2008
HONG KONG (AP) - A little-known comedy that stars Chow Yun-fat as an apparent con-man has won over Hong Kong's critics, sweeping three top prizes at the Hong Kong Film Critics Society annual awards.
"Postmodern Life of My Aunt" -- about a retired government worker's encounters with swindlers in Shanghai -- took home best film, best director for Hong Kong's Ann Hui and best actress for veteran Chinese actress Siqin Gaowa in results posted this week on the critics group's official Web site.
Chow himself, however, missed out on an award.
The Hong Kong critics called the Chinese-language film Hui's "new pinnacle," saying the veteran filmmaker "developed a multilayered, touching piece of work" that "expresses sadness in humor."
As for Siqin, the critics called her performance masterful, saying she displayed "extreme ease in her facial expressions" in portraying her character's changing fortunes.
"Postmodern Life of My Aunt" is one of the smaller films Chow has appeared in in recent years. He recently has been seen in high-profile projects such as "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" and the Zhang Yimou Chinese-language epic "Curse of the Golden Flower."
Hui said in a magazine article in 2006 she was surprised Chow agreed to appear in her movie given that she couldn't afford the actor's usual salary.
Best actor honors at the Hong Kong critics awards went to Tony Leung Ka-fai, best known to Western audiences for playing a businessman who has an affair with a young schoolgirl in "The Lover."
Leung won for playing a gangster in the police surveillance thriller "Eye in the Sky."
Best scriptwriting honors went to Wai Ka-fai and Au Kin-yee for "Mad Detective."
January 31st, 2008, 05:20 PM
Stephen Chow's 'CJ7' fails as a story, but creates lovable animated character
31 January 2008
HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong comedian Stephen Chow's attempt at pioneering the family movie genre in Chinese film fails as a story, but "CJ7" breaks new ground for the industry in creating a first computer-animated character with iconic potential.
China's movie market is booming and budgets are creeping up to tens of millions of U.S. dollars (euros), but the film industry has been saturated with historical epics.
Mindful of the trend, Chow says he set out to create China's first blockbuster family film, taking inspiration from Steven Spielberg's classic "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial."
Failed by a lackluster script, "CJ7" fails to deliver heartwarming family humor, but it's redeemed by its computer-animated star -- the lovable extra-terrestrial dog-like creature CJ7, which the movie is named after.
Chow stars in the movie, playing single father Ti, who works odd construction jobs to earn his son Dicky's tuition for an expensive private school. He's so poor he scavenges for abandoned sneakers for Dicky and the two live in a small room of an abandoned building.
On one of his scavenging trips, he discovers a green ball object that eventually transforms into CJ7.
China's rich-poor gap provides plenty of fodder for sarcasm, but Chow instead resorts to cliches like Dicky's rich classmate who flaunts his expensive robot toy. Much of the story revolves around classmates and a teacher who despise Dicky for his poverty.
Chow also appears to lack a personal chemistry with children and his deadpan humor seems out of place in what's supposed to be a touching family story.
Instead, the computer-generated CJ7 steals the show. It's a petite, dog-like creature with a green, jelly-like body and a furry head and a small antennae.
CJ7 shows a full range of emotions and physical states -- like its tattered look after battling a real live dog. One of the most memorable moments sees CJ7 showing off his different expressions as Dicky's classmates offer scenarios such as acing a school test, the death of CJ7's family and witnessing a beautiful woman.
CJ7, created by Hong Kong special effects company Menfond Electronic Arts, takes on a human personality of his own and it's a pity that Chow doesn't blend him into a more compelling story.
Disney also tackled Chinese animation with last year's "The Secret of the Magic Gourd," but that story was based on a famous Chinese children's story and Disney's take on the magical vegetable didn't generate huge excitement.
With CJ7, modern Chinese film has its first original, Westernized computer-animated character with possibly iconic appeal like Nemo, Woody or Buzz Lightyear.
February 13th, 2008, 11:10 AM
Wednesday February 13, 06:46 PM
Johnnie To preserves old Hong Kong in new film
BERLIN (Reuters) - Director Johnnie To aims to preserve something of the old Hong Kong in new film "Sparrow" before his native city changes forever.
In competition at the Berlin Film Festival, "Sparrow" is a light-hearted story of a group of pick-pockets led by a thief named Kei who become entranced by a beautiful, mysterious young woman who is constantly running away from someone.
When they discover that she is trying to escape the clutches of a big gangster boss, they cannot resist trying to save her, no matter what the risk.
The action takes place in Hong Kong's old streets and alleyways, and the nostalgic feel and upbeat soundtrack led several critics to compare it to the 1964 French musical hit "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."
"The main point of the movie is to capture the flavor of Hong Kong," To told reporters after a press screening.
"The city is undergoing a lot of changes and the Hong Kong government has torn down a lot of buildings, so in my film I wanted to capture the old Hong Kong.
"The profession of the pick-pocket is actually dying out as we enter a new era, and in a way these pick-pockets are a bygone age of Hong Kong, and that's why they are in the movie," he added, speaking through an interpreter.
Asked why the movie had such a Western feel, he added: "For me Hong Kong is a city that is very Chinese but also had a lot of influences from abroad. This mix of East and West is something very natural that I wanted to convey in the film."
To said "Sparrow" had taken more than three years to make and could have taken longer had he been allowed.
"After so much time shooting a movie the investor will ask you to wrap it up at some point and so I finished it."
To, 52, a favorite at European festivals and best known in the West for crime movies like "The Mission" and "Election," teams up once again with actor Simon Yam, who also appeared in the director's "PTU," "Election," "Exiled" and "Triangle."
To said he believed Hong Kong and mainland Chinese cinema would gradually merge over time, although there were still important differences, particularly in the area of censorship.
"Making films in Hong Kong, you still enjoy complete freedom, so that is an advantage Hong Kong directors have today."
And Yam, who plays Kei opposite Taiwanese actress Kelly Lin in the female lead, hoped Hong Kong cinema would preserve some of its distinctive qualities.
"As Hong Kong film becomes part of Chinese cinema, I hope it directors can still make something that is uniquely Hong Kong. In this film, the streets we shot in may be gone in 10 years so it was important we captured them."
February 21st, 2008, 04:51 AM
Cash starts flowing in bid to revive film industry
Hong Kong Standard
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Two local movies will receive a total of HK$5.2 million in investment from the Hong Kong Film Development Council - the first to receive financing from the government under the Film Development Fund.
Animation movie McDull WuDang will get HK$3.6 million and feature film Claustrophobia will receive HK$1.6 million, amounting to 30 percent of their production costs of HK$12 million and HK$5.4 million, respectively.
Wilfred Wong Ying-wai, convenor of the Fund Vetting Committee, said the council hoped to provide limited financing support for small-to-medium budget productions in order to encourage more commercial investment and revitalize the industry.
"Last year there were only about 50 movies made in Hong Kong compared with 200 when the industry was at its peak," Wong said. The fund, established in 1999, received a HK$300 million grant from the government in July. It aims to finance productions with a budget not exceeding HK$12 million, but the funding will be capped at 30 percent of the production budget.
The council requires either the director, producer or production company to have produced at least two movies in the past 10 years. It denied the requirement was too restrictive.
"These are public funds," Wong said. "You cannot give them to someone who is completely green, with no experience in movie production."
The government will take from the box office takings the amount it invested plus 30 percent of the net revenue.
"The council has separate resources to help train new professionals," its secretary-general, Wellington Fung Wing, said.
Despite the success of the first McDull movie, Samuel Choy Chung-leung of Bliss Concepts said it was not easy to find investors for the sequel.
"The production for an animated movie can take from 14 months to two years," Choy pointed out. "Investors may want to get their money back sooner."
Cary Cheng Kin-fung of Runaway Films Production, which produced Claustrophobia, said that, in his 16 years in the industry, it has never been as hard as now to find investors.
"For the past two years I have been trying to get an investor for this movie," Cheng said.
February 22nd, 2008, 07:11 AM
Hong Kong film festival tipped to draw its biggest crowds yet
22 February 2008
South China Morning Post
Festival chairman Wilfred Wong Ying-wai hopes attendance will exceed 120,000, with more screenings than last year.
Last year 118,000 tickets were sold, raking in more than HK$5 million in box-office takings.
The festival starts on March 17 and runs until April 6, with 11 cinemas taking part, including the Grand Theatre at the Cultural Centre, the Space Museum's Lecture Hall and The Grand Cinema at the new Elements shopping centre above Kowloon MTR.
Japanese film Kabei, directed by Yoji Yamada, and Taiwan's Soul of a Demon, directed by Chang Tso-chi, will open the festival. It will close with Shine a Light, Martin Scorsese's much-anticipated documentary about the Rolling Stones, and local film Coffee or Tea, co-directed by Shu Kei and Kwan Man-hin.
Some renowned filmmakers are expected to attend, including director Yoji Yamada and actor Asano Tadanobu from Kabei, and Sergei Bodrov, director of Mongol, a favourite for the Academy Award for best foreign language film.
The festival will also showcase The Counterfeiters by Stefan Ruzowitzky and Joseph Cedar's Beaufort, two other Oscar-nominated foreign-language films. San Sebastian Film Festival winner A Thousand Years of Good Prayers and its companion piece, The Princess of Nebraska by Hong Kong-born, Hollywood-based Wayne Wang, will also be screened.
Online and postal bookings for the festival open tomorrow, while box office sales through Urbtix begin on March 6.
The Asian Film Awards, celebrating excellence in Asian cinema, are to be held on opening day. The Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum, a film financing platform, will run from March 17 to 19.
March 3rd, 2008, 05:12 PM
Report: Actress Maggie Cheung dabbles in music, still reluctant to take on new movie
2 March 2008
HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung said in a rare interview published Sunday she's dabbling in music and still reluctant to return to film.
The veteran actress won the 2004 Cannes Film Festival best actress award for her performance in "Clean" -- one of her last two movies along with "2046."
Cheung, who appeared in her first film in 1984, said in an interview with the South China Morning Post's Sunday magazine she's experimenting with music and enjoying her carefree lifestyle.
"It's not that I want to become a singer, but I am working with ... music. I walk into the studio and hang out, make up songs and I write some lyrics. I do some tunes on the computer with my own programming," Cheung was quoted as saying.
She said she's still reluctant to take on a new movie and is happy not acting.
"I am much lighter as a person. It's amazing to be able to live as you wish. You are able to plan your day yourself and do whatever you want," Cheung was quoted as saying. "I have done 75 films and that makes me think that it's OK not to do 76."
Cheung has signed on for a skin-care commercial directed by China's Jia Zhangke. Last year, she said she was in talks about several projects and had met with Malaysian director Tsai Ming-liang.
March 8th, 2008, 07:05 PM
Chinese fantasy 'CJ7' too cute for its own good
4 March 2008
HONG KONG - A comic trio formed by a poor workman, his son and his alien pet drive the story of "CJ7," a hyperactive, wishful-thinking special effects fantasy suitable for family outings. It is the long-awaited brainchild of Stephen Chow, the comedian-writer-director who pioneered the unique Hong Kong genre of mo lei tau (nonsensical) comedy in the early 1990s.
Despite Chow's self-professed desire to salute "E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial" and oblique borrowings from Japanese anime "Doraemon," the sci-fi classic "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" springs foremost to mind as Chow's one-of-a-kind magnetic screen persona seems to have been abducted by aliens, who replaced him with a pod spouting moral platitudes and CGI-enhanced emotions.
"CJ7" has worldwide release ambitions, but convincing a North American audience more familiar with Jackie Chan and Jet Li and more likely to prefer Chow's more exotic and action-packed "Shaolin Soccer" and "Kung Fu Hustle" won't be so easy.
This is Chow's first directorial work shot entirely in China, but geographic and cultural character look fuzzy. He plays Ti, a construction laborer who pays through the nose to send his only son Dicky (Xu Jiao) to an elite school. Dicky's street urchin looks make him a target for bullying. Only his teacher, Miss Yuen (Kitty Zhang), shows some kindness.
Dicky wants his classmate's cyber toy CJ1, but the impoverished Chow finds him a scrap-yard substitute that he names CJ7. The florescent green blob morphs into a creature with a fluffy mane and a bouncy, squishy torso. Dicky dreams of impressing his classmates with alien high-tech gizmos but ends up thoroughly humiliated. However, when an accident happens, CJ7 reveals its hidden powers.
The first half-hour depicts father-son relations with a mischievous charm reminiscent of Chow's early films. Xu, a girl who impersonates the boy Dicky, is the one who holds the film together. A natural in front of the camera, she has a wealth of facial expressions even in solo scenes with a computer-generated figure. Zhang, who wears a tight enough cheongsam to moonlight in a hostess bar, never stirs as a love interest.
"CJ7" revels in a cartoon-like depiction of abject poverty with a priceless scene where cockroach swatting is an alternative to PlayStation. However, such social issues as education, employment and inequality of wealth are glossed over by slogan-like mottos of being poor but virtuous. The storybook ending is artificial and offers no antidote to Ti and Dicky's problems.
Ti: Stephen Chow
Dicky: Xu Jiao
Miss Yuen: Kitty Zhang
Mr. Cao: Lee Shing-cheung
Building Site Foreman: Lam Tze-chung
Director: Stephen Chow; Screenwriters: Stephen Chow, Vincent Kok, Tsang Kan-cheong, Lam Fung, Sandy Shaw, Fung Chih-chiang; Producers: Stephen Chow, Chui Po-chu, Han Sanping; Director of photography: Poon Hang-sang; Production designer: Oliver Wong; Music: Raymond Wong; Co-producers Vincent Kok, Connie Wong; Costume designer: Dora Ng; Editor: Angie Lam.
March 8th, 2008, 08:14 PM
^^ CJ7 has opened in the NA, but doesn't have much cinemas showing it. I am interested to see, but nothing around me. Only one cinema is showing the movie in Manhattan by Chinatown. Comparing to "Lust, Caution," CJ7 is really not that international for non-Chinese audience. "Lust, Caution" wasn't opened wide nationwide, but it was shown in numbers of cinema in Connecticut.
March 16th, 2008, 06:39 PM
Hong Kong Film Archive shows films in memory of Lydia Sum
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Government Press Release
Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA)'s retrospective "In Memory of Lydia Sum" to commemorate the comedienne's inspiring on-screen performances will continue at the HKFA until Sunday (March 16).
Films to be screened include Cantonese classic "Teddy Girls", comic adapted film "Master Cute and Tai Fan Shu", melodramas "Four Sisters", "First Love Forever", and her swansong "In-laws, Out-laws". Director Clifton Ko will meet the audience and share his recollection on Sum's performance before the screening of "In-laws, Out-laws" at 7.30pm on Sunday at the Cinema of the HKFA.
A small-scale exhibition on the first floor of the HKFA showing more of her stills and photographs will be staged from March 21 at the Exhibition Hall of the HKFA. Admission is free.
A film and television comedienne for more than 40 years, Lydia Sum brought joy to the lives of Hong Kong people and overseas Chinese communities with her trademark laughter. She appeared in more than 160 films, playing a wide variety of characters in vastly different movie genres. She was talented in many ways: acting, singing and dancing; but her best talent was to make people happy.
All films are in Cantonese. "Teddy Girls" and "In-laws, Out-laws" have Chinese and English subtitles. No marked seats for any of the screenings.
Tickets are available at all URBTIX outlets. As with other HKFA retrospective programmes, tickets are priced at HK$30, with half-price concession for senior citizens aged 60 or over, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Reservations can be made by phone on 2734 9009.
For enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900 or browse the website: www.lcsd.gov.hk/fp.
March 18th, 2008, 11:14 AM
Chan, Li Plan 2nd Movie Collaboration
18 March 2008
HONG KONG (AP) - Jackie Chan and Jet Li say they had so much fun making their first movie together they are planning a second one.
Kung fu cinema's two biggest stars expressed admiration for each other at a Hong Kong news conference Tuesday to promote their first collaboration, the $75 million Hollywood production, "The Forbidden Kingdom."
"The first day we started filming, it felt like we had worked together for many years," Chan said, adding, "after filming this movie, we didn't have enough fun."
"In four months (of filming), we went from friends to becoming brothers," Li said.
Chan said their fight sequences went so smoothly that cinematographer Peter Pau told them to slow down.
He said "The Forbidden Kingdom" is not the movie he wanted to make his first collaboration with Li, but he signed on when the project came along because "if I had kept waiting, who knows how long I would have had to wait."
Chan and Li said they want to shoot another movie together based on a script they started working on 15 years ago, but both stars refused to give details.
Both actors were lukewarm in earlier comments about the "The Forbidden Kingdom," which was shot in China but largely targets U.S. audiences.
The English-language movie, follows an American teenager's fantasy journey to ancient China, where he meets several characters from Chinese mythology such as the Drunken Immortal, played by Chan, and the Silent Monk, played by Li.
"The Forbidden Kingdom" will be released in the U.S. on April 18 and in Asia on April 24.
Director Rob Minkoff said bringing Chan and Li together was a difficult challenge that involved hiring a top-notch supporting crew, including famed kung fu choreographer Yuen Woo-ping, known for his work on "The Matrix" trilogy.
Cinematographer Pau won an Oscar for his work on the martial arts hit "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
"To get Jackie and Jet together ... it's a very complicated, difficult thing," he said.
Chan and Li's friendship dates back to the 1980s. Li, a former national kung fu champion in China, said Chan watched him perform martial arts in the U.S. then, and Chan said he played host when Li first arrived in Hong Kong to try to break into the local film industry.
Chan, the older of the two at age 53, said the two stars seldom talk about kung fu in private. He said Li, 44, a devout Buddhist, often explains Buddhist scripture to him, leaving him "very confused."
March 30th, 2008, 04:58 PM
anybody knows any hong kong movie torrent site?
April 2nd, 2008, 08:14 AM
^ Unfortunately it's now illegal to download HK movies (in HK at least) through BT means.
May 19th, 2008, 04:48 AM
HK's role outside limelight in Cannes 'no cause for alarm'
19 May 2008
South China Morning Post
The lack of a Hong Kong film in Cannes' main competition is no cause for alarm, director Wong Kar-wai says.
"It was just like two years ago, when people were saying there were no British films in the festival's main competition - but it's just a cycle and nothing that's extraordinary," Wong said yesterday at Cannes, where he was presenting a re-edited version of his 1994 martial arts drama Ashes of Time as an out-of-competition entry.
Wong has been a festival regular since 1997, when Happy Together - his first competition entry at Cannes - won him a best director award. Each of his films since then has been nominated for the Palme d'Or, the festival's top prize, with his latest entry being the English-language My Blueberry Nights last year. He also presided over the festival's jury in 2006.
The film, now titled Ashes of Time Redux, premiered at the festival last night, and Wong appeared at the screening alongside several of the film's actors including Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Carina Lau Ka-ling and Charlie Young Choi-nei, as well as cinematographer Christopher Doyle.
The film's main star, Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing, sadly committed suicide in 2003. Wong said Ashes of Time Redux was partly shaped as a homage to the late singer-actor, with the new version of the film now ending with a still shot of Cheung in a swordfight.
Ashes of Time made its international bow in 1994 at the Venice Film Festival, and was awarded the best cinematography title.
The decision to launch the new version on the Croisette in Cannes rather than in Italy, Wong said, was because France was the only country where the original version went on general release.
The new version of the film will open later in the year in Hong Kong, and will hit European cinemas in August.
Wong's appearance at the festival follows sharply on the screening of mainland director Jia Zhangke's competition entry 24 City, which received enthusiastic reviews in international trade publications and is now considered one of the frontrunners for the Palme d'Or.
Its major competitors for the prize include Ari Folman's animated feature Waltz with Bashir, which explores Israel's role in the massacres at Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut in 1983, and Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Three Monkeys, a story about a family's breakdown after the father takes the rap for a deadly traffic accident involving his boss.
More Chinese-language films will grace the festival this week, with new works by Liu Fendou, Yin Lichuan and student filmmaker Jiang Xuan all making their Cannes debuts at the various sidebar competitions.
July 7th, 2008, 03:50 AM
Director John Woo returns to Chinese film with historical epic 'Red Cliff'
2 July 2008
HONG KONG (AP) - After 16 years directing Hollywood movies, John Woo is returning to Chinese film with an ambitious two-part historical epic that he hopes will also appeal to Western audiences.
"Red Cliff," whose first installment is due out in Asia later this month, is based on a famous battle in divided third-century China that saw 2,000 ships burned, and draws from a storied period in Chinese history that has spawned comic books and video games.
Expectations are high for the movie.
Loaded with Asian stars including past Cannes winner Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Taiwanese-Japanese heartthrob Takeshi Kaneshiro, and backed by investors from China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, Woo says he has already spent more than US$70 million on the project -- a huge sum by Asian filmmaking standards.
Hollywood trade publication Variety says the "Red Cliff" is the most expensive Asian production ever.
Critical reception is also at stake for the director, who has not made a full-length movie since two lackluster Hollywood productions -- the 2003 sci-fi flick "Paycheck" and the 2002 war film "Windtalkers," which an Associated Press review said "might just be the most unfocused movie John Woo has ever made."
Woo, a Hong Kong native who made hits like "Face/Off" and "Mission: Impossible II," has not directed a Chinese movie since the 1992 action thriller "Hard-Boiled."
It hasn't been an easy transition back to Chinese film.
The main stars of the movie, Leung, and Chow Yun-fat -- whom Woo cast as the iconic gun-toting, trench coat-wearing gangster Mark in his 1986 movie "A Better Tomorrow" -- backed out at the last minute, although Leung later returned to the cast.
A stuntman died in an accident and torrential rains washed away part of an outdoor set in northern China.
Producer Terence Chang said it took time to navigate the Chinese film industry and for Woo's multinational crew to get used to working with Chinese crew members.
"It's not just the language barrier. They have to get used to each other's culture and thinking," Chang said.
Woo told the AP in an interview that "Red Cliff" involves the biggest scenes he's ever worked on. While "Mission: Impossible II" and "Windtalkers" had budgets exceeding US$100 million, most of that money went to the stars rather than the production itself, he said.
Likening "Red Cliff" to "Gladiator" and "Troy," Woo said the largest scenes in the Chinese movie involved as many as 2,000 actors and crew members and that the two installments include about 1,300 special effects shots.
Woo said he's wanted to make "Red Cliff" since finishing "A Better Tomorrow" but lacked the resources and technological expertise until now.
He also wants to broaden Western understanding of Chinese culture. Outside of Asia, "Red Cliff" will be released as a single, condensed installment in December.
"Although there are a few action movies, Hong Kong movies and kung fu movies that are very popular in the West and did very well at the box office, that's only one part of our culture," Woo said.
Woo's other mission is to bring Hollywood know-how to Chinese movie crews.
"I want to prove to the world through this movie that in China, we also have the ability, talent and endurance to make a Hollywood-style blockbuster," he said.
Some movie critics, however, aren't keen on Woo's latest project.
Grady Hendrix, who writes Variety's blog on Asian entertainment, said Woo is past his creative peak.
"John Woo making 'Red Cliff' is one of those things that can barely make me yawn. There are many better and more interesting projects out there right now," he said.
Tom Vick, a film curator at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and author of "Asian Cinema," said he's wary of the glut of Chinese historical epics in recent years but hopes Woo can break new ground with "Red Cliff."
"Even his less successful films are done with panache. So I'm hoping he can find something new or interesting to do with this tired genre," Vick said.
Woo plans to make at least another Chinese film -- "1949," a romance set against World War II and Chinese civil war -- but says he wants to keep working in Hollywood. In the United States he is working on an American remake of the 1969 French film "The Sicilian Clan," a Western, and a movie about Chinese laborers starring Chow Yun-fat.
July 16th, 2008, 12:06 AM
i am a bit of a avid movie watcher to the point that i have seen allot of movies here in the States so now i am branching out to see foreign cinema. a friend of mine recently gave me a few Hong Kong movies to watch; Infernal Affairs, A New Police Story, Confession of Pain (now that was a deliciously twisty movie very nicely done), Heavenly Mission, Avenging Fist, and some others that i cant remember. The thing is i want to start renting them off netflix but don't want to go through hit and miss to get to the good ones. So if anyone can recommend some favorites that are a must see i would be eternally grateful.
July 16th, 2008, 03:37 AM
John Woo Chinese epic earns US$26 million in Asia in opening weekend
15 July 2008
HONG KONG (AP) - John Woo's historical epic "Red Cliff" has opened strongly in Asia, earning US$26 million (euro16.4 million) in China, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea since debuting last Thursday.
The Hong Kong native's return to Chinese-language film also beat Hollywood movies "Hancock" and "Kung Fu Panda" in the weekend box office in at least two territories.
Based on an famous battle in third-century China, "Red Cliff" is Woo's first Chinese film after a 16-year stint in Hollywood, where he made hits like "Face/Off" and "Mission: Impossible II."
Loaded with Asian stars and backed by investors from China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, it's also a huge production by Asian standards. Woo told the AP in a recent interview he has already spent US$70 million on the movie, which features scenes that involved up to 2,000 actors and crew members.
The Hollywood trade publication Variety says "Red Cliff" is the most expensive Asian production in history.
In mainland China, where the movie is viewed as an important showcase of Chinese history before the Beijing Olympics in August, "Red Cliff" earned 108 million Chinese yuan (US$16 million) through Sunday on a wide release of 1,400 copies, spokesman Weng Li at investor China Film Group said. China has more than 3,500 screens.
The result makes it the quickest film to break the 100 million yuan (US$15 million) mark -- the threshold of a big hit in China, Weng said. "Red Cliff" achieved the result in four days, breaking the record of five days set by Hollywood blockbuster "Transformers."
The Chinese results are also significant because of mixed reviews. Chinese audiences are intimately familiar with the story and some have aired concerns about Woo's alleged deviation from history and over-the-top dialogue.
Producer Terence Chang said he isn't worried about box office results because the minimum guarantee payments he secured from distributors around the world already covers the movie's big budget.
Still, Chang said in a phone interview with the AP he was surprised by the results.
"I thought it would do OK, but I didn't think it would do so well," he said.
In South Korea, the movie made 5.1 billion South Korean won (US$5 million) through Monday, according to figures posted on the Web site of the Korean Film Council.
In the four-day period ending Monday, "Red Cliff" beat the Hollywood movies "Hancock," "Wanted" and "Kung Fu Panda."
In Taiwan, "Red Cliff" earned 80 million New Taiwan dollars (US$2.6 million) through Sunday, according to figures provided by investor CMC Entertainment.
In the Taiwanese capital Taipei, "Red Cliff" is the top-earning movie on opening day this year, raking in nearly 8 million New Taiwan dollars (US$263,000) on Thursday. At the weekend box office in Taipei, it also bested "Hancock" and "Kung Fu Panda."
In Hong Kong, "Red Cliff" has made 10.6 Hong Kong dollars (US$1.4 million) through Sunday, according to figures posted on hkfilmart.com. That figure is better than last week's earnings by both "Hancock" and "Kung Fu Panda."
In Singapore, the film pulled in 1.03 million Singapore dollars (US$740,000) until Sunday, according to figures provided by distributor MediaCorp Raintree Pictures.
Woo is also releasing a sequel to "Red Cliff," which he is currently editing, and a one-part condensed version for markets outside of Asia.
August 7th, 2008, 12:46 PM
Jackie Chan to star in Hollywood spy comedy
7 August 2008
HONG KONG (AP) - Jackie Chan's next Hollywood project is an action comedy about a Chinese spy working undercover in the U.S. whose cover is blown, the movie's producer said Thursday.
"The Spy Next Door" will start shooting in mid-October, producer Robert Simonds told The Associated Press.
Simonds said no one else had been cast.
In an e-mail message, he described the film as a cross between "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" and "Big Daddy."
Chan plays a Chinese agent working undercover while on loan to the U.S. government. His cover is blown when he looks after the children of his neighbor, a beautiful single mother, and one of them accidentally downloads secret codes off his computer.
Solon So, the chief executive of Chan's company JC Group, confirmed the project on Tuesday but declined to give details. He said the movie may be delayed if the Screen Actors Guild fails to reach a new contract with Hollywood studios and goes on strike. Chan is a SAG member.
Chan usually juggles Hollywood and Chinese-language projects. His last film was the American kung fu movie "The Forbidden Kingdom," which marked his first on-screen collaboration with action star Jet Li.
He will next be seen in the Chinese-language "Shinjuku Incident," reportedly about Chinese immigrants living in Tokyo's Shinjuku shopping and entertainment district.
Simonds' producer credits include "The Pink Panther," "Big Daddy," "The Wedding Singer" and "The Waterboy."
August 13th, 2008, 10:57 AM
John Woo war epic sets new China box-office record: report
12 August 2008
Agence France Presse
John Woo's epic "Red Cliff" has set a new box-office record for a Chinese film, state media reported Wednesday.
The film, which depicts war and turbulence in third-century China, raked in 302 million yuan (44 million dollars) in China after it opened on July 10, the Southern Metropolis Daily said.
The earnings overtook the previous record of 280 million yuan set by "Curse of the Golden Flower," directed by Olympic opening ceremony mastermind Zhang Yimou, the report said, citing producer China Film Group.
With its sequel due to debut in January, "Red Cliff" is expected to "create a new box-office miracle" and break the all-time domestic record of 360 million yuan earned by Hollywood blockbuster "Titanic," the newspaper said.
The two-part 80-million-dollar epic, starring Hong Kong star Tony Leung and Japan's Takeshi Kaneshiro, made headlines in June when a stuntman working on a battle scene died in a fire on set.
Woo, a Hong Kong film director and producer, rose to international prominence with "Face Off" starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage in 1997. He was also the director of "Mission: Impossible II" starring Tom Cruise.
August 26th, 2008, 05:58 PM
Hollywood thriller 'Cellular' gets Chinese remake with Hong Kong flavor
26 August 2008
HONG KONG (AP) - Hollywood has been mining Asian movies for ideas for years -- but now an American studio is remaking one of its home productions as a Chinese-language movie with local partners.
Warner China Film HG -- a joint venture between Warner Bros. and China's state-run China Film Group and Hengdian Group -- is releasing "Connected" on Sept. 25, remaking the 2004 New Line Cinema thriller "Cellular," starring Kim Basinger.
New Line Cinema was an independent studio that's now part of Warner Bros. Entertainment.
"Cellular" is about a kidnapped woman who makes a call to a random mobile phone seeking help.
"Connected" changes the setting to Hong Kong and switches the cast to Chinese-speaking actors -- Hong Kong's Louis Koo, China's Liu Ye and Taiwan's Barbie Hsu.
While Hollywood has remade Asian movies for years -- Martin Scorsese's "The Departed," the horror films "The Ring" and "The Grudge" are based on Asian movies -- "Connected" is billed as the first Chinese remake of a Hollywood movie.
Hong Kong director Benny Chan, who directed "New Police Story" and "Rob-B-Hood," says "Connected" improves on "Cellular" by injecting Hong Kong-style action sequences.
"In my movie, I added many elements that Hong Kong action movies do best -- human combat, action, flying cars," Chan told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday.
The director said he doesn't mind making a remake.
"What the world lacks most is good stories. If there's a story that investors think will work in the market and that I like, I don't think there's anything wrong with remaking it," Chan said.
"Cellular" made $32 million in the U.S. and $24.4 million abroad on a production budget of $25 million, according to the box office tracking Web site Box Office Mojo.
"Connected" was budgeted at only $5.8 million -- even a conservative figure among growing Chinese movie budgets. John Woo's recent Chinese-language historical epic cost at least $70 million.
Hollywood producer Roy Lee, who worked on many of the recent American remakes of Asian movies, says the effort makes financial sense "because it is taking ideas that worked well in one market and adapting them for others."
September 9th, 2008, 05:34 AM
HKETO Director welcomes delegates of Hong Kong film industry to Toronto
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Government Press Release
Delegates of the Hong Kong film industry who are attending the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) today (September 8, Toronto time) received a warm welcome from the Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) in Toronto.
Hong Kong director Nelson Lik-wai Yu, actor Anthony Wong, and co-producers and distributor of the Hong Kong-Brazil co-production, Plastic City, were joined by local film professionals at a welcome lunch hosted by the HKETO Director, Ms Maureen Siu.
Thanking them for representing Hong Kong at the world-renowned TIFF, Ms Siu said: "Not only does Hong Kong film play a significant role in promoting Hong Kong overseas, it also generates a direct and powerful effect on enhancing the international branding of Hong Kong among non-Chinese audiences in many ways."
With great diversity of themes and filming styles, Hong Kong films present the creativity of Hong Kong people. A number of popular Hong Kong film titles have been sold to overseas industry players for remakes in English, such as the 2007 Oscar-winning movie The Departed, directed by Martin Scorsese, which is a remake of the Hong Kong original production, Infernal Affairs.
"In addition, Hong Kong film directors and producers have always been applauded for working within tight budgets yet being able to produce high-quality films," said Ms Siu.
Since 1997, Hong Kong movies and film talents have been awarded over 300 international prizes, with director Wong Kar-wai being the first Chinese director to win the Best Director Award at Cannes in 1997 for his film Happy Together.
Ms Siu also told the guests that Hong Kong enjoys a strategic position to promote collaboration with other places in film production. Citing Plastic City as an example, she said the film "showcases how such collaborations could be - a film shot by a Hong Kong director, with actors and crews from five different nations."
December 9th, 2008, 06:23 PM
HK war epic shines in Chinese-language 'Oscars'
6 December 2008
Agence France Presse
Hong Kong director Peter Chan Ho-sun's 19th century war epic "The Warlords" won top honours at Saturday's Golden Horse Film Awards in Taiwan, seen as the Chinese-language "Oscars".
"The Warlords," which centres around a general in imperial China who turns against his sworn brother, was named the best film while Chan was awarded best director.
But the film, nominated for 12 gongs, surprisingly missed out on most of the technical awards except of for best visual effects.
"It's not an easy-won award," Chan said when he got on the stage for the best director prize.
"I want to thank the audiences who went to the theatres to watch not only my film but others such as 'Cape No. 7.' They are the hopes for Chinese-language films."
Chan was referring to Taiwanese director Wei Te-sheng's hit romantic drama "Cape No. 7" which was pitted against "The Warlords" in several major categories.
Wei didn't go home empty-handed, as the film collected best supporting actor, best original film score and best original film song prizes.
Wei also picked up a special Taiwanese filmmaker of the year award for his second feature, which was crowned outstanding Taiwanese film of the year.
"I want to thank the audiences in Taiwan who helped promote the movie by word of mouth," said Wei, after receiving the statuettes from Oscar-winning Taiwanese director Ang Lee.
"Cape No. 7," the highest grossing Chinese-language film of all time in Taiwan, tells of a modern-day romance between an aspiring Taiwanese singer and a Japanese publicist on the island.
The film has become mired in controversy after its release in mainland China was held up over its Japanese themes, prompting an appeal from Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou.
This year saw smaller Taiwanese productions outshine their mega-budget rivals in the awards, which have long been dominated by Hong Kong and mainland Chinese films.
"The local industry had been in a long slowdown but a wave of new directors have revived it and given us hopes for Taiwanese cinema with fresh, vital films," said Ang Lee.
Taiwanese social drama "Parking" and "Candy Rain" defeated acclaimed director John Woo's war epic "Red Cliff" to collect best art direction and best make-up and costume design respectively.
The night's biggest surprises were in the acting categories.
China's Zhang Hanyu beat best actor favourite favourite, kung fu star Jet Li from "The Warlords," for his intense performance as a soldier in the Chinese civil war drama "Assembly".
US-based Hong Kong singer-turned-actress Prudence Liew was crowned best actress for playing a drug-addicted prostitute in "True Women for Sale".
The Golden Horse Awards are styled on the US Academy Awards but are decided by a jury along the lines of the Cannes film festival.
December 10th, 2008, 08:33 AM
Infernal Affairs Trilogy
January 28th, 2009, 05:22 AM
Woo turns history into entertaining spectacle
25 January 2009
HONG KONG (Hollywood Reporter) - "Red Cliff I," the first part of the screen adaptation of China's famous "Three Kingdoms" warring history, was a hefty buildup that left audiences dangling at the precipice of a legendary naval battle. The multinational production resources used for this cinematic re-creation are unprecedented in Asia, but it is director John Woo's level-headed ordering of narrative sequence, his skill in devising kinetic live action to offset technical ostentation and his vision of how to turn epic into entertainment that propels "Red Cliff II" to a thundering climax.
Part I reaped a huge $120.7 million from combined box offices of 10 Asian territories, with Japan at more than $52 million to date. Part II, which bowed on Hong Kong screens in mid-January, easily can soar on the crest of that success to record highs in Asian theaters.
"Red Cliff II" opens with a brisk recap of Part I, in which Prime Minister Cao Cao's (Zhang Fengyi) first campaign to annex the fiefdom of East Wu was thwarted by an allied defensive led by Wu viceroy Zhou Yu (Tony Leung) and Zhuge Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro), the military strategist who serves Cao's opponent Liu Bei. With Cao's 2,000-strong fleet poised to sail down the Yangtze for a second offensive, Zhuge uses his knowledge of weather changes to help Zhou decimate Cao's fleet in one blast.
Even at 141 minutes, the film never feels ponderous or weighed down by self-importance. From the moment it opens with a Chinese soccer game that whips up a whirlwind sense of movement, Woo keeps the ball rolling with an intriguing lead-up that includes a reconnaissance mission by Wu princess Shangxiang, double agents and double-crosses in both camps and bluffs and counterbluffs among Zhuge, Zhou and Cao. Tight editing keeps the frequent scene changes under control and the intricate stratagems comprehensible.
A timely lull comes at the 90-minute mark as Zhou's wife, Xiaoqiao (Lin Chiling), brews up a storm in a teacup in her seduction of Cao. Although the two only sip tea, they generate more erotic vibes than the clumsily shot sex scene between Zhou and Xiaoqiao in Part I.
The climactic battle lives up to popular expectations of epic filmmaking, with more than 30 minutes of sophisticated military maneuvers, special effects and human drama in one continuous movement. The wooden galleys are magnificently constructed. Visceral explosions and close-ups of human carnage, combined with a few well-placed panoramic CGI shots of the fire's domino effect on the connected fleet, come close to "Titanic" in achieving a sense of catastrophic grandeur.
The maritime spectacle segues smoothly onto land as Wu forces storm Cao's fort. Corey Yuen's action choreography maintains a strong martial arts element that gives the main protagonists some individual play among stampedes of extras. The characters' function is merely emblematic in these scenes, from which Shidou Nakamura's stoic Gen. Gan and Hu Jun's agile Zhao Zilong stand out most in manly prowess. Leung, who lands the most crucial role as commander, goes through the paces with few stirring emotional responses. Kaneshiro charms with Mona Lisa smiles.
Part II gains dramatic weight as Cao Cao steps up as a dominant force and the film's most subtly drawn character. As Cao, Zhang ("Farewell My Concubine"), the film's best casting choice, radiates intelligence and is ever so urbane but remains unfathomable. He epitomizes the charismatic Machiavellian prince when he boosts morale of his homesick troops with eloquent rhetoric yet ruthlessly decides he'll let his last soldier die "to put on a show of military might."
Notwithstanding perfunctory laments about the sacrifice of rank and file, the saga is a glorification of medieval chivalry and individualistic heroism. But Woo distinguishes his magnum opus from Hollywood blockbusters by putting his auteur's stamp in the final standoff between Cao and Zhou, with a pose that references all the classic face-offs in his "hero" films.
January 28th, 2009, 05:26 AM
Hong Kong to produce 'world's first 3D sex movie': report
24 January 2009
Agence France Presse
A Hong Kong filmmaker aims to lure audiences back to the cinema with what what he says is the world's first 3D erotic movie, a newspaper reported Sunday.
Stephen Shiu Jnr., chairman of One Dollar Production, said he would use special effects to make the love scenes in his 30 million-Hong Kong dollar (four million US) "3D Sex and Zen" as realistic as possible.
"The 3D erotica will probably be the world's first," he told the Sunday Morning Post.
"Just imagine that you'll be watching it as if you were sitting beside the bed."
The film is based loosely on the 17th century Chinese erotic classic "The Carnal Prayer Mat," a tale about how overindulgence in pleasure can lead to tragedy.
Shiu told the newspaper that about 25 to 30 percent of the movie would be love scenes, including many close-ups. He said the actresses would appear to be only a few centimentres (inches) from the viewers, who would have to wear special glasses to enjoy the 3D effects.
The producer said he was planning to use adult video actresses from Japan and Taiwan. But he admitted having difficulties in finding the male lead.
"We're having trouble finding a male lead who is willing to undress in front of the camera. It's a lot more difficult to find an actor than an actress for this kind of movie."
Shooting will begin in April and it is expected to be released in time for Christmas, the report said.
Hong Kong has seen the closure of many cinemas in recent years as traditional movie-goers switch to watching films on DVD at home.
February 17th, 2009, 09:51 AM
Director: New Jackie Chan movie too violent for China
16 February 2009
HONG KONG (AP) - Jackie Chan, the comical kung fu king, is starring in a new movie so violent that its director decided not to release it in mainland China, which doesn't have a film ratings system.
Hong Kong director Derek Yee told The Associated Press on Monday that he considered toning down the violence in "Shinjuku Incident" so it could pass censorship in China, but decided not to because he thought it would hurt the integrity of the movie.
Yee said the $25 million Chinese-language movie, in which Chan plays a refugee who escapes to Japan and becomes a killer for the mob, has scenes that show characters getting a hand chopped off and pierced with knives.
"We tried to cut the violent scenes to meet the requirements of the Chinese market, but producers I invited to watch that version thought it was incomplete," he said.
Yee said Chan, who invested in the movie, agreed with his decision.
Solon So, chief executive of Chan's company, JC Group, confirmed Yee's account.
China doesn't have a ratings system, so every movie is released for all audiences. Chinese censors are also wary of subject matter that is politically sensitive, like Tibet or the military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Yee said he wasn't worried about the film's setting of Japan -- another sensitive topic in China.
"For us, the problem was just the violence," he said.
Sino-Japanese relations remain tense because of Japan's brutal occupation of China during World War II. The 2005 Hollywood film "Memoirs of a Geisha" was not released on the mainland apparently because the sight of Chinese actresses Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li portraying Japanese entertainers would offend viewers.
Yee's decision also had financial implications because the film is expensive by Asian standards and China is an increasingly important market, where a hit movie can make millions of U.S. dollars.
"Shinjuku Incident" will be released in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia on April 2 and in Japan on May 1.
February 27th, 2009, 02:31 AM
Is our government helping the Singaporean to strengthen their tourism? Sigh..
Jackie Chan says HK govt ignored museum plea
HONG KONG (AFP) — Action hero Jackie Chan said Thursday a museum dedicated to his career would have been built in Hong Kong rather than Singapore if the government had not ignored his repeated requests for land.
The Hong Kong-born "Rush Hour" star said he had decided to donate his costumes, awards and a collection of antique Chinese houses to Singapore after 10 fruitless years trying to convince the Hong Kong government to host the attraction.
"I finally decided last week to give (the collection) to them," he told AFP.
"I will built everything in Singapore. All my costumes will be moved there. The Jackie Chan Museum will be in Singapore," he said.
His collection included seven wooden houses, currently stored in a Hong Kong warehouse, which date back to the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties and are worth more than 67 million US dollars.
He said he would not change his mind unless the Hong Kong government got back to him over the next few days with a concrete offer.
"But I doubt if they will come back to me, not even if they are given another year," he said. "I was very disappointed. It was a shame."
"I feel Hong Kong is now too politicised," he said, adding that Chief Executive Donald Tsang and other government officials were often afraid to take actions for fear of being criticised.
Chan said although he had offered to pay for the land and the cost of the project, the government had not responded.
In contrast, he said that the Singapore government replied a week after it learnt about his idea. He was offered land and costs for transporting the exhibits.
"I was really touched," he said.
A government spokeswoman said the Hong Kong Tourism Board was discussing the issue with Chan.
"We are trying to learn more about his plan before we consider how to take it forward," she told AFP.
March 22nd, 2009, 07:05 PM
HK action star to play Confucius in new film: Chinese media
19 March 2009
Agence France Presse
Hong Kong action movie star Chow Yun-fat will play ancient philosopher Confucius in a new film backed by the Chinese state, media reports here said.
Chow, 53, made his name in violent Hong Kong action films in the 1980s and 1990s but is perhaps best known to many movie-goers for his role as a martial arts master in 2000's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Filming was to begin next month under director Hu Mei, the Beijing Times said.
The reports did not say when the biopic would be released but reports late last year had said the China Film Group was hoping to screen the movie on the October 1 National Day holiday.
The ancient teachings of Confucius (551-479 B.C.), centring on peace and social harmony have enjoyed an officially-backed renaissance here in recent years, after being suppressed in Maoist China.
March 23rd, 2009, 11:58 AM
Golden age of cinema may show again, says producer
Hong Kong Standard
Monday, March 23, 2009
The golden era of Hong Kong cinema may return as the vast mainland market opens up and overseas filmmakers look to recruit local talent.
Film producer Raymond Wong Pak-ming, who has 50 movies under his belt in a more than 30-year career, said that despite the financial meltdown his recent works All's Well Ends Well 2009 and Ip Man are favorites both in the mainland and Hong Kong.
Wong told The Standard that Ip Man, which features martial artist Donnie Yen Ji-dan, has raked in more than 100 million yuan (HK$113 million) at the mainland box office and a quarter of that amount in Hong Kong.
He said he is preparing to shoot a sequel and mainland investors are queuing up for a piece of the action.
"In the mainland market, we dare to invest tens of millions to shoot a movie. If you confine yourself to the local market, you can only spend a few million for each movie," said Wong, who is a member of the Hong Kong Film Development Council.
"In the United States, there are about 30,000 movie screens for 300 million people. But there are only 3,000 screens for the mainland's 1.3 billion population; the number of screens has been increasing by 10 to 20 percent each year."
The number of Hong Kong cinemas has fallen.
Wong said there are limits on what kind of movies may be shown in the mainland's tightly controlled industry, with those having themes related to triad societies, religion, sex, violence, drug trafficking and ghosts falling foul of censors.
Wong, famous for his comedy series Happy Ghostin the 80s and 90s, said he could not shoot it again because of mainland restrictions.
"However, I am sure there will be a motion picture rating system in the mainland to allow more movies to be shown," he said.
In its 1980s heyday, Hong Kong was known as the Hollywood of the East, and Wong recalled that in 1993, 300 movies were in production at any given time compared to just 50 today.
In the past, Hong Kong movies were much sought after throughout Southeast Asia, but now cinemas there are required to show locally made movies for a certain period of time.
"The Hong Kong film industry's golden era will return and there are more international filmmakers wanting to cooperate with Hong Kong under Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement to get into the mainland market," said Wong, adding that Filmart, which begins today, has attracted a vast number of participants.
Under CEPA, Hong Kong filmmakers can make movies for the mainland as long as one-third of the investment, actors and workers come from the mainland.
In an attempt to foster more young talent in the industry, Wong called on the government to increase subsidies for films by new directors from 30 percent to 50 percent of the Film Development Fund.
The government put HK$300 million into the fund in 2007 to finance productions with a maximum contribution set at 30 percent of budget capped at HK$3.6 million.
"Private investors will have more confidence to invest if the administration contributes more," he said.
As of March 9, 10 films have been approved under the scheme with total funding of HK$27.2 million.
May 1st, 2009, 07:26 AM
Jackie Chan announces 100th movie, to shoot in China, Austria, France
29 April 2009
HONG KONG (AP) - Jackie Chan has celebrated a milestone with the announcement of his 100th movie project -- a collaboration with "Rumble in the Bronx" director Stanley Tong.
The 55-year-old "Rush Hour" star said on his Web site he will co-direct the film tentatively called "Chinese Zodiac" with Tong, with shooting to take place in China, Austria and France. The brief statement seen Wednesday did not give further details.
Tong, whose credits include the TV series "Martial Law" and the comedy movie "Mr. Magoo," directed Chan in the 1995 action film "Rumble in the Bronx" and the 2005 fantasy "The Myth."
Chan's main spokesman, Solon So, said Chan will invest in the movie with his frequent partner, Hong Kong-based Emperor Motion Pictures. He declined to reveal the plot or budget.
Chan's most recent release was the Chinese-language gangster thriller "Shinjuku Incident," in which he plays a Chinese immigrant who becomes a hit man for the Japanese mafia. His upcoming films are the Hollywood action comedy "The Spy Next Door," about an undercover Chinese spy whose cover is blown, and another Chinese production, "Big Soldier," reportedly about the friendship between two soldiers set in China's ancient Qin dynasty.
The veteran action star has also been in talks to star as the Mr. Miyagi character in a remake of "The Karate Kid," the 1984 film about a mentor who teaches a youngster how to stand up to bullies.
Chan recently caused an uproar by saying at a business forum that freedom may not be a good thing for authoritarian mainland China. Critics called his comments an insult to the Chinese people.
So said afterward that Chan's comments were taken out of context and that the actor was referring to freedom in the entertainment industry and not Chinese society at large.
May 2nd, 2009, 06:09 AM
Shaw Brothers' entire library moved into HK Film Archive
1 May 2009
South China Morning Post
The Shaw Brothers studio has finished moving its entire library of more than 700 original prints to the Hong Kong Film Archive - the largest single donation it has received.
Archive head Richie Lam Kok-sing hoped the donation would encourage other film companies and film labs to contribute to building the city's film heritage.
Ann Hui On-wah, who won best director at the Hong Kong Film Awards last month, and Shaw Brothers kung fu star Gordon Liu Chia-hui were among those celebrating the donation yesterday at the archive site in Sai Wan Ho.
The collection contains the original prints of more than 700 Shaw Brothers films, including such classics as The Kingdom and the Beauty, One-Armed Swordsman, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, Come Drink With Me, The House of 72 Tenants and Justice, My Foot!
Other material, such as trailers belonging to the Shaw Brothers library, which is owned by Celestial Pictures, will also be kept by the archive.
The archive has more than 8,000 film titles, about 100 of them Cathay Studio films and the rest from various film companies.
"But [the Shaw Brothers collection] is the most important collection that we have ever received," Mr Lam said, adding that Shaw Brothers had an indisputable place in the history of Hong Kong cinema.
He said that it has taken a few years for all the more than 700 films to be moved to the archive. The films will be preserved in a low-temperature, low-humidity environment.
"I hope this donation from Shaw Brothers library can set an example for other film companies so that they are more willing to let us preserve the original prints for them," Mr Lam said. "The original prints are important not only for academic purposes or for us to show films. It is important to keep our cinematic treasures for future generations."
He said that some film companies were still reluctant to donate the original prints, and he hoped that as they converted their collections to digital format they would become more willing to donate films to the archive.
The archive has four specially equipped storage centres - three in its Sai Wan Ho building and one in Taikoo Place, Quarry Bay. The archive expects it will have to expand in the future to house future donations.
May 6th, 2009, 07:17 PM
Film series kicks off "Hong Kong Comes to Chicago 2009" Festival
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Government Press Release
Hong Kong film director Mr. Chan Wing Chiu attended the premiere screening of “A Decade of Love” in Chicago at the Gene Siskel Film Center on May 1 evening (Chicago time), kicking off the “Hong Kong Cinema: The Next Generation” film series.
Mr. Chan is the director of the “Red Egg on the Road” story featured in the film.
Speaking at the film screening, Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, New York, Ms. Monica Chen, said, “This month-long Hong Kong film series will present eight films that are representation of the new face of Hong Kong cinema. This new generation of film makers not only forms an integral part of Hong Kong’s robust and creative film industry; they are also key to the thriving creative industry in Hong Kong.”
“It also represents a manifestation of the good efforts by Hong Kong’s next generation of filmmakers in continuously contributing to the development of the entire film industry,” said Ms. Chen.
“A Decade of Love” features nine independent stories by 10 directors, displaying the lifestyle and pace of the modern people in the 21st century, and also demonstrating the directors’ passion for Hong Kong in the last decade.
Following the film screening, Mr. Chan hosted a discussion session with the audience. He said “A Decade of Love”, with its collection of 10-minute short films set in various prominent Hong Kong locations, conveys the theme of “love” through the eyes of the different directors 10 years after the 1997 Handover.
Mr. Chan noted that “A Decade of Love” is not the typical Hong Kong movie, adding that it is a departure from the Hong Kong action movie genres that most American audiences are familiar with. He said this represents new directions Hong Kong directors are exploring in the film industry.
The other movies featured in “Hong Kong Cinema: The Next Generation” film series include “Golden Chicken”, “The Drummer’, “The Pye Dog”, “Mob Sister”, “Fatal Contact”, “Mr. Cinema” and “Eye in the Sky”.
A program highlight of the film series is a short illustrated lecture on the evolution of Hong Kong film genres by Ms. Barbara Scharres, Director of Programming at the Gene Siskel Film Center, on May 2, after the screening of “Golden Chicken”.
“Hong Kong Cinema: The Next Generation” is a core program of the “Hong Kong Comes to Chicago 2009” festival, held in conjunction with Chicago’s month-long celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, throughout the month of May.
Other events in the month-long festival include the “This is Hong Kong” photo-exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center; another multi-media exhibition showcasing Hong Kong through the eyes of five students from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, and gallery talks about Hong Kong and Chinese art.
May 18th, 2009, 05:03 PM
Movie industry urged to take aim at European market
18 May 2009
South China Morning Post
Hong Kong's movie industry should look beyond the mainland and open up markets in Europe, the head of the city's film development body said in Cannes yesterday.
Jack So Chak-kwong, speaking before the Trade Development Council's annual cocktail reception, said he had met several European delegations. He said French producers expressed great admiration for Hong Kong films.
Indeed, the relationship between the two markets has been growing stronger. Unifrance, the 60-year-old organisation responsible for promoting French cinema worldwide, was the third-largest foreign contingent at Hong Kong's Filmart in March.
Johnnie To Kei-fung's Vengeance, which premiered yesterday at Cannes as one of 20 films pursuing the festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or, is a co-production between Hong Kong's Media Asia and France's ARP Selection. The film, shot on location in Macau and Hong Kong, stars rock icon Johnny Hallyday as a former hitman who comes out of retirement to avenge the death of his daughter.
Mr So, who chairs the Film Development Council and the Trade Development Council, was upbeat about the fortunes of Hong Kong's film industry, saying he hoped this year would yield at least 60 films.
"It is important that the industry should not just rely on its old glories and simply recycle cops-and-robbers thrillers or gangster films," he said.
But it also appears eyes are shifting to the mainland: the council has changed the name of its big bash at Cannes from Hong Kong Night to China Night: Celebration of 100 Years of Hong Kong Cinema.
Mr So said people "should not read too much" into the change, but added the mainland's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (Sarft) had approached him about co-running the reception.
In a speech that evening, Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan, secretary for commerce and economic development, said the international success of many films jointly produced by Hong Kong and the mainland made the city an ideal gateway for overseas filmmakers looking to tap into the Chinese market. "With China's economic growth in the last 10 years, we have witnessed a rapid growth of mainland-Hong Kong co-productions, from about 10 titles per year in 2004 to about 30 titles a year now," she said.
"The sustained box-office success of co-produced films has encouraged Hong Kong filmmakers to invest more in the China market. This experience is invaluable to overseas film companies keen to develop the China film market. I encourage you to look to Hong Kong as the gateway to a successful China entry. The mainland authorities and the Hong Kong government will continue to work together closely to draw up more measures to facilitate the development of co-productions."
Mrs Lau said the international recognition of co-productions like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and If You Are The One bode well for the development of Hong Kong's film market.
If You Are The One grossed US$46.2 million at the box office on the mainland, making it the country's top Chinese-language film last year.
Co-productions are treated as domestic films by the mainland under its Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement free-trade pact with Hong Kong. Compared to films imported directly from Hong Kong, such co-productions enjoy preferential profit-sharing arrangements. Between seven and nine of the mainland's top 10 Chinese-language films over the past three years were co-productions with Hong Kong filmmakers.
Vengeance is not the only Hong Kong film in official competition at Cannes. Mainland director Lou Ye's Spring Fever is nominally a French-Hong Kong co-production, as it is partly funded by a company he set up in Hong Kong last year.
Sarft gave Lou a five-year ban after he showed his last film, Summer Palace, at Cannes in 2006 without first clearing the censors. Lou secretly filmed Spring Fever in Nanjing last year.
Neither of the two films are seen as frontrunners for the Palme d'Or, however. With the festival now halfway over, French director Jacques Audiard's A Prophet remains the critics' favourite, followed by Jane Campion's Bright Star - about the 19th century English poet John Keats and his lover Fanny Brawne.
More big hitters are to come this week, with films by Pedro Almodovar, Ken Loach and Michael Haneke making their bows this week. The jury is presided over by French actor Isabelle Huppert, who will give out the awards on Sunday.
May 30th, 2009, 05:24 AM
Hong Kong's Cinema Quiz
June 26th, 2009, 05:12 AM
Wong Jo Lam in 矮仔多情 (Short guy gets lots of Love) ... Wish I could play his role.
Very nice cast: JJ, Angelababy, Race Wong and Kate Tsui
July 14th, 2009, 07:31 PM
Tony Leung breaks left arm during training for biopic of Bruce Lee's kung fu master
14 July 2009
BEIJING (AP) - Cannes best actor winner Tony Leung Chiu-wai broke his left arm while sparring with martial arts instructors as he prepared to portray Bruce Lee's kung fu master in a Wong Kar-wai movie, a publicist said Tuesday.
One of the kung fu instructors kicked Leung during a practice session on Monday, breaking a bone in his left forearm, Agnes Leung, a publicist at Wong's production house Jettone Films, told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
Leung must rest his arm for several weeks but can continue to train on his kicks, she said.
Wong's movie about Ip Man, who trained Lee for five years when he was a teenager, was tentatively scheduled to start shooting in September but might be delayed depending on Leung's recovery, she said.
Wong's biopic will be the second about Ip in recent years. Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen played Ip in a 2008 Wilson Yip film named for the pioneering martial arts master.
Wong's version is being closely watched because it marks a rare departure by the Cannes-winning director from the art-house fare for which he is best known.
The director's most recent film and his English-language debut, "My Blueberry Nights," starred singer Norah Jones, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman and David Strathairn.
Leung is known for playing subdued characters like the melancholy writer who had a love affair with a married woman in Wong's "In the Mood for Love." That performance won him best actor honors at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000. He most recently starred in John Woo's two-part Chinese historical epic "Red Cliff."
July 19th, 2009, 06:43 PM
Jackie Chan: Co-star Jaden Smith's kung fu skills put his own son to shame
18 July 2009
HONG KONG (AP) - Jackie Chan says "Kung Fu Kid" co-star Jaden Smith's dedication to martial arts puts his own son to shame.
The 11-year-old son of Hollywood stars Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith has been training under Chan's stunt co-ordinator for his role in the China Film Group-Columbia Pictures remake of the 1984 hit "The Karate Kid," which kicked off filming in Beijing on July 11.
In a diary entry on his official Web site, Chan said he was deeply impressed by the younger Smith's progress when he visited Los Angeles last month.
The veteran Hong Kong action star said Jaden Smith learned the Chinese phrases for different kung fu moves, responded to orders in Mandarin, and treated his teacher, Wu Gang, according to traditional Chinese custom.
"When he was thirsty, he gave the traditional hand gesture, putting one fist into the palm of the other, bowed and asked permission to drink some water," Chan said.
Chan said Smith even learned the drunken fighter routine he made famous in his 1978 film "Drunken Master."
"He put my son to shame! I provided my son with the best martial artists in the world, and he could not be persuaded to try it. In just two months, Jaden had learned so much. He is truly a talented boy," he said, adding he felt Smith was ready to perform his own stunts in "Kung Fu Kid."
Chan's son, Jaycee, is a singer and actor but has not followed in his father's footsteps as an action star.
Chan posted several photos with the diary entry showing him with Jaden Smith and his father.
He said he was skeptical at first of Jaden Smith's work ethic because he was born into a privileged family.
"Training in martial arts is hard work. It takes years to perfect even one punch or kick. Jaden's father is a famous celebrity, and Jaden probably knows he could get away without having to work very hard. If I couldn't get my own son to train in martial arts, how could anybody else succeed?" Chan said.
Chan said he suggested to Will Smith that he send his son to China for a few years of kung fu training, predicting "when he returns, his martial arts will be truly incredible."
Jaden Smith costarred with his father in the 2006 movie "The Pursuit of Happyness" and appeared in the 2008 Keanu Reeves sci-fi movie "The Day the Earth Stood Still."
July 24th, 2009, 06:28 AM
August 1st, 2009, 09:43 AM
Stanley Kwan tackles sci-fi after 4-year break
1 August 2009
HONG KONG (AP) - Famed Hong Kong art-house director Stanley Kwan is returning to film-making after a four-year break with a sci-fi movie about a group of Chinese acrobats from the 1930s who travel to the present.
The movie follows the acrobats' relationships with a group of acting students in 2009 Shanghai, Kwan told The Associated Press. He spoke by phone Saturday from the Chinese financial capital, where he is shooting the 8 million Chinese yuan ($1.2 million) production.
Australian-born Christopher Doyle, who helped craft the moody visuals of many Wong Kar-wai films, is the cinematographer.
The 52-year-old director said he crafted the project, which he describes as "'The Matrix' meets song and dance," to help a group of Chinese acting and music students he met while working on a musical. The film is called "Dancing with Your Heart" in Chinese but doesn't have an English title yet.
"Very few of the graduates of Chinese performing arts schools have the chance to start a career in performing arts," Kwan said. He said he is halfway through the shoot and expects to finish the movie in late August.
Kwan's last film was the 2005 romance "Everlasting Regret," starring Hong Kong pop star Sammi Cheng. He is best known for his 1987 drama "Rouge" and his 1992 biopic of late Chinese actress Ruan Lingyu, "Center Stage," which earned its star Maggie Cheung best actress honors at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Kwan's 2001 gay romance "Lan Yu" won four prizes at the Chinese-language equivalent of the Oscars, Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards, including best director for Kwan and best actor for China's Liu Ye.
During his break, Kwan developed projects for the new Chinese production company J.A. Media and produced the 2008 Hong Kong-Taiwan romance "Miao Miao."
But after his stint on the business side of film-making, "I realized I like directing my own movies more," he said.
Like many fellow Hong Kong directors, Kwan is now shooting on the mainland, a booming movie market flush with funds. He said working with Chinese investors can be a difficult process because many are new to the film industry.
"Many of the investors are entrepreneurs. Their main line of business is real estate or coal mines or finance. They don't know about the work flow of a movie," Kwan said.
The mainland Chinese market is also now dominated by big-budget historical and kung fu epics, which aren't Kwan's forte. Kwan said in a 2002 interview he couldn't imagine making a kung fu film because he might be sidelined by the action coordinator.
Kwan said Saturday he believes the Chinese market will evolve beyond its focus on certain genres.
"When the Hong Kong market was booming, you could make every kind of movie. You didn't have to make a big-budget movie. You could make a small-budget movie. You could make a movie with a medium level of investment," he said.
August 1st, 2009, 09:36 PM
'Infernal Affairs' director hopes film scores big in China where he's still learning market
29 July 2009
HONG KONG (AP) - "Infernal Affairs" co-director Alan Mak hopes his new thriller will break new ground for Hong Kong filmmakers still learning the tastes of mainland Chinese viewers.
Directors in this vibrant movie industry -- which produced Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan -- are increasingly under pressure to cater to the booming Chinese market, but they sometimes struggle to find the pulse of mainland moviegoers because Hong Kongers' tastes tend to be more Westernized.
The urban action thrillers that Hong Kong filmmakers are known for have not been big hits in China, which is often dominated by big-budget historical and kung fu epics. Hong Konger John Woo found success on the mainland with his "Red Cliff" -- a two-part historical epic -- that was among the biggest hits in China in the past year. Another big grosser was mainland Chinese director Feng Xiaogang's romantic comedy "If You Are the One."
Mak, whose "Infernal Affairs" was remade by Martin Scorsese as "The Departed," hopes his new film, "Overheard," will break the trend. The 35 million Hong Kong dollar ($4.5 million) production is set in Hong Kong and follows three police officers who stumble upon an insider trading plot during an eavesdropping operation.
"If this movie does well in mainland China, then it sends us a message that we can make more movies like this," the 44-year-old director told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the Hong Kong premiere for "Overheard" late Tuesday.
So far the signs are encouraging. "Overheard," which opened in China on Friday, made more than 35 million Chinese yuan ($5 million) in its opening weekend and is expected to easily break the 100 million yuan mark ($15 million) -- the threshold for a big hit in China, Yu Dong, chairman of investor Bona Entertainment, said at the premiere Tuesday. But that's still a long way from the 300 million yuan ($44 million) earned by each of the two installments of "Red Cliff" and "If You Are the One."
Mak, who co-directed "Overheard" with "Infernal Affairs" script writer Felix Chong, said Hong Kong directors would be unlikely to have success with a romantic comedy like "If You Are the One."
"You need to spend 10 years there. You need to understand the culture. You need to understand its humor," he said.
August 8th, 2009, 10:19 AM
Government continues to support local film productions
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Government Press Release
The Government would continue to provide financial support through the Film Development Fund (FDF) to projects and activities conducive to the development of the local film industry, and assist in the continued growth of the industry, the Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Communications and Technology), Mr Duncan Pescod, said today (August 8).
Mr Pescod attended the Gala Premiere of the film "McDull Kungfu Ding Ding Dong" today. The film, produced by the Bliss Concepts Limited, is the first film project approved by the Government for financing under the FDF of the Hong Kong Film Development Council (HKFDC). The production budget of the film is about $12 million, with about $3.6 million of approved government financing.
Mr Pescod said that since its inception in 1990, Bliss Concepts Limited had successfully created the popular local cartoon characters "McMug" and "McDull" which had become two of the most symbolic animated characters worldwide. The financing of this film production by the FDF showed that the film production financing scheme under the HKFDC played a positive role in the continued development of the local film industry.
Mr Pescod said that since its release on the Mainland on July 24, "McDull Kungfu Ding Ding Dong" had gained wide acclaim and had so far recorded a total sales income of more than RMB63 million from box office receipts. He hoped the film could also achieve a good box office result in Hong Kong.
Since the launch of the film production financing scheme in October 2007, 13 film production financing applications have been approved, with total funding of $35.89 million.
The Chairman of the HKFDC, Mr Jack So, acting Head of Create Hong Kong, Mr Alan Siu, and members of the Legislative Council and the HKFDC, also attended the Gala Premiere to show support and encouragement to the local film industry.
August 12th, 2009, 08:01 AM
Animation studies to be offered to boost HK's creative industry
23 June 2009
South China Morning Post
Senior secondary students will be taught film and animation, in addition to arts and culture, in a plan to boost the development of the city's cultural and creative industries.
Alan Siu Yu-bun, the deputy secretary for commerce and economic development, said the government initiatives would see companies in the sector being offered internships to promote interest, and local creative talent would receive support to take part in overseas competitions.
More than HK$2 million from the Film Development Fund had been set aside to develop a syllabus on film and animation because animation would play a vital role in the creative field, Mr Siu said.
The syllabus would be offered as a visual arts course at four selected schools this September before its official launch in January.
Alan Wan Siu-lun, secretary of the Comics and Animation Federation, which helped develop the syllabus, said students would be taught a range of topics from comics history to animation appreciation.
Another HK$3 million would be used to support joint efforts by the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and the Arts Development Council to encourage young people to take part in arts-related volunteer work.
Having created 100 trainee and intern positions within the advertising industry, Mr Siu said the government was looking into extending the programme to other industries such as design and architecture.
The government would also support the organisation of regional awards for industries such as games and advertising to raise Hong Kong's profile as a creative capital.
It also planned to transform idle factories and heritage sites, such as the former police married quarters on Hollywood Road, into creative clusters, Mr Siu said.
Industry professionals generally welcomed the government's initiatives but some had hoped for more immediate measures.
"These are mid- to long-term measures but more direct measures such as dedicating a certain percentage of public works to arts and culture-related construction could be implemented," said Desmond Hui Cheuk-kuen, a cultural studies professor at Chinese University.
August 17th, 2009, 02:29 PM
HK urged to take on role as Chinese movie hub
17 August 2009
South China Morning Post
Hong Kong should position itself as the centre for Chinese-language films and capitalise on the recent soaring popularity of local productions on the mainland, Hong Kong Film Development Council secretary general Wellington Fung Wing says.
Of the top five highest grossing films on the mainland during the week of August 3 to 9, three were by local directors and featured local stars. Topping the chart was Wong Jing's comedy On His Majesty's Secret Service, which took more than 35 million yuan (HK$39.7 million) in that week, and which had taken 80 million yuan at the box office up to Friday last week since opening on the mainland on July 30.
Hollywood blockbusters G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and the 3D animation Up took second and third spots, taking more than 26 million yuan and 22 million yuan respectively.
Mr Fung said the three Hong Kong movies had proved so popular because they had been filmed at the right time - when popular foreign films had already been screened and there was less competition. He said that investors showed great interest in Hong Kong directors because there were not enough filmmakers on the mainland focusing on making commercially viable films, as many mainland directors still believed in the cultural side of film, but overlooked the business side. "But from watching Hong Kong films, they know that Hong Kong directors are good at making commercial films," he said.
Mr Fung envisaged Hong Kong filmmakers focusing on exploiting their creativity, instead of merely the technicality of filmmaking. "The ability to design is the most important," Mr Fung said. He added that Hong Kong, a city with freedom of speech, should also serve as a centre for Chinese-language films, an equivalent of the Cannes Film Festival.
Fourth and fifth spots were taken by co-productions between Hong Kong and the mainland.
The local crime thriller Overheard, directed by Felix Chong and Alan Mak, took 17.5 million yuan in the same week.
In fifth place, the animated McDull Kung Fu Ding Ding Dong, directed by Tse Lap-man, took 11 million yuan at the box office, also between August 3 and 9.
September 2nd, 2009, 12:14 PM
HK hits no match for US blockbusters
2 September 2009
South China Morning Post
Hong Kong crime thriller Overheard topped the summer box office race among local productions, but could not beat Hollywood blockbusters.
Directed by Infernal Affairs collaborators Felix Chong Man-keung and Alan Mak Siu-fai, and starring Sean Lau Ching-wan, Daniel Wu Lin-cho and Louis Koo Tin-lok, Overheard took more than HK$15.3 million at the box office after opening on July 30, the most successful of 11 local films this summer.
Laughing Gor: Turning Point, a movie adaptation of TVB's police drama EU (Emergency Unit), marked the end of a 22-year hiatus for the Shaw Brothers studio on feature film production. It has taken more than HK$14.7 million since opening on August 13.
Aaron Kwok Fu-shing's thriller Murderer was third, taking HK$11.7 million after its July 9 opening, ahead of veteran director Wong Jing's period comedy On His Majesty's Secret Service, which has taken more than 100 million yuan (HK$114 million) on the mainland, and had HK$8.8 million in Hong Kong box office takings.
But the overall champion was Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, taking HK$48 million, followed by Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on HK$45.5 million. Animated film Up came third with HK$32.6 million ahead of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs with HK$32.5 million.
Overheard and Laughing Gor Turning Point came fifth and sixth, overall. Seventh was G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, taking HK$13.6 million. Murderer was eighth, On His Majesty's Secret Service was ninth and G-Force took HK$8.7 million for tenth place.
December 30th, 2009, 02:35 AM
Venice festival honors John Woo with lifetime achievement award
22 December 2009
HONG KONG (AP) - Organizers for the Venice Film Festival have honored John Woo with its lifetime achievement award, saying the veteran director transformed action movies both in his native Hong Kong and his current professional home of Hollywood.
Calling the 61-year-old filmmaker "an innovator of the contemporary language of cinema," festival organizers said in a statement posted on their official Web site Monday that they decided to award Woo the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement.
"The acknowledgment recognizes a filmmaker who in recent decades, with his revolutionary conception of staging and editing, has renewed action movies to the core, introducing an extreme stylization close to visual art, both in Asia and in Hollywood," organizers said.
"This is a surprise to me. I'm excited. I'm very grateful," Woo told The Associated Press in a phone interview from the eastern Chinese city Hengdian, where he is producing a new kung fu movie starring former Bond girl Michelle Yeoh.
"I feel very gratified that I can communicate with many people around the world and make many friends through movies," he said.
Woo made his name in Hong Kong with stylish action films like "A Better Tomorrow," "The Killer" and "Hard Boiled" before moving on to the U.S., where his credits include "Broken Arrow," "Face/Off" and "Mission: Impossible II." Woo recently returned to China to make the two-part historical epic "Red Cliff." His next project is a movie about the so-called "Flying Tigers" -- American fighter pilots who defended China against Japanese invaders during World War II.
"In his war and gangster film masterpieces, Woo has been capable of transfiguring hyperbolic motion and exasperated violence with a highly original poetic and romantic infusion, sustained by an extremely personal and energetic figurative tension, similar to a surreal hallucination," organizers said.
The award will be presented at the 67th Venice Film Festival, which will be held from Sept. 1-11, 2010.
December 31st, 2009, 02:33 AM
2009 Hong Kong box office top 10s
27 December 2009
South China Morning Post
HK productions - total revenue HK$233.4m (50 films)
1. All's Well Ends Well 2009 - HK$24.7m
2. Red Cliff II - HK$23.7m
3. Laughing Gor Turning Point - HK$15.7m
4. Overheard - HK$15.5m
5. Shinjuku Incident - HK$13.9m
6. The Storm Warriors - HK$13.5m*
7. Wishing for a Star - HK$12.6m
8. Murderer - HK$11.7m
9. On His Majesty's Secret Service - HK$8.8m
10. Poker King - HK$8.3m
Foreign productions - total revenue HK$832m (208 films)
1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - HK$48m
2. 2012 - HK$47m*
3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - HK$45.5m
4. Up - HK$33.3m
5. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs - HK$32.4m
6. Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian - HK$28.3m
7. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - HK$24.4m
8. Slumdog Millionaire - HK$24.3m
9. Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea - HK$23.5m
10. Angels and Demons - HK$20.6m
* Still screening
All figures are up to Dec 20, 2009; list excludes Avatar (released on Dec 17; receipts of HK$16 million until Dec 20) and Bodyguards and Assassins (released Dec 18, 2009; receipts of HK$3.58 million until Dec 20)
Source: Hong Kong, Kowloon & New Territories Motion Picture Industry Association
December 31st, 2009, 02:33 AM
Hong Kong's resurgent filmmakers have had a busy year and are set to storm multiplexes with a fresh crop in 2010
27 December 2009
South China Morning Post
When asked whether the local film industry has outperformed his expectations this year, Brian Chung Wai-hung pauses for breath and says no. Not that things aren't going well - it's just that the chief executive of the Hong Kong, Kowloon & New Territories Motion Picture Industry Association never really believed 2009 was going to be a tough year.
"I wasn't really that pessimistic about the industry's fortunes 12 months ago," he says. "As the mainland market opens up, there's only one way forward - Hong Kong productions are going to get bigger and more profitable."
For signs of an industry in rude health, he says one only needs to look at what happened this month: The Storm Warriors and Bodyguards and Assassins, released on December 10 and 17 respectively, have been performing well at the local box office, with a spate of equally lavishly funded blockbusters in the final stages of post-production and awaiting their turn in cinemas early next year. And speaking of cinemas, two new multiplexes, Tsuen Wan's GH Citywalk and Tsim Sha Tsui's UA iSquare, opened this month, the latter with an iMax screen.
"It shows how those in the industry are quite assured about the market being on the up," says Chung, who says the scene is set for better things ahead. "It's been very rare to see so many new Hong Kong productions jostling for space," he adds, referring to both the one-week-apart releases of Warriors and Bodyguards and also the bumper season set for February, when seven Chinese-language films are due for release during the Lunar New Year holiday. It's "an absolutely rare scenario", Chung says, citing how the past five years have seen only two to three Chinese-language productions in local cinemas during the same period.
Critics - including the Post's own Paul Fonoroff, in his year-end round-up (right) - have lamented that Putonghua speakers are now taking up more screen time than their Cantonese counterparts in Chinese-language films released in Hong Kong. They have a point, especially given that Gordon Chan Ka-seung's Painted Skin - an adaptation of a story from the 18th-century paranormal anthology The Strange Tales of Liaozhai - was selected (and failed) to represent Hong Kong in competition for an Academy Awards best foreign-language film nomination, despite its largely mainland cast. Yonfan's Prince of Tears - a story about the suffering of a Taiwanese family during the island's White Terror in the 1950s - is to represent Hong Kong in competition for a place on the Oscars shortlist next year.
But The Storm Warriors and Bodyguards and Assassins - the former an adaptation of a local comic, the latter an action thriller revolving around an assassination attempt on Sun Yat-sen on the streets of Victoria (now Central) in 1905 - are two lavish exercises in foregrounding Hong Kong's history and culture.
And love them or hate them, screwball comedies such as All's Well Ends Well 2009 and On His Majesty's Secret Service have also thrived by revisiting the humour that defined the lighter end of Hong Kong cinema during its heyday in the 1980s and 90s. The success of these two films on the mainland this year - alongside suspense thriller Overheard and animated feature McDull Kung Fu Ding Ding Dong - whipped up much excited chatter about local directors finally making a comeback with films staying true to Hong Kong's cultural instincts.
Also, there's The Way We Are, Ann Hui On-wah's low-budget, sparsely scripted film about everyday life in Tin Shui Wai. It was released only on a limited run at the Broadway Cinematheque last year, but it became one of the most critically garlanded local films of the year, scooping best film, best director and best screenplay awards at the Hong Kong Film Awards, while veterans Paw Hee-ching and Chan Lai-wun finally received the acknowledgement they deserved by winning best actress and best supporting actress honours.
Nick Cheung Ka-fai, who won best actor at the awards for his turn as a disfigured kidnapper in The Beast Stalker, was another success story this year, also winning the same title at the Golden Horse and the Asia-Pacific film festivals, the two long-running Chinese-language cinematic spectacles in Taiwan.
Add to that Wai Ying-hung's best supporting actress win at the Golden Horse for her role as an alcoholic mother in At the End of Daybreak, and it's been a great year for actors who have spent years toiling out of the spotlight. We'll see whether 2010 will yield such rewards for solid acting and sturdy local films.
January 6th, 2010, 12:11 AM
I watched Poker King a few days ago. It was great!
January 18th, 2010, 05:51 PM
Bigger budget to boost new movie generation
15 January 2010
A push is on to create a new generation of movie makers by making more funds available to up-and-coming directors.
The Film Industry Development Council is to increase its upper limit of a film's production budget from HK$12 million to HK$15 million.
It will also remove a stipulation that requires an applicant, film director or producer to have completed two films within the 10 years prior to their application.
Launched in October 2007, the fund has received 23 applications so far, with 14 _ involving a total of HK$38.8 million _ already approved.
Council chairman Jack So Chak- Kwong said: ``We're hoping to continue to help small-scale film production companies and create film-related activities and job opportunities.''
Council member Wilfred Wong Ying-wai added: ``The 14 films have engaged six local directors and five producers directing or producing commercial films for the first time.
``Claustrophobia, the first commercial film directed by scriptwriter Ho Pik- mun, won a number of awards in local and overseas film festivals.
``All these demonstrate that the fund is playing a positive role in nurturing talent and enhancing the professional standards of our film industry. It shows the scheme is conducive to the nurturing of new directors.''
The council is also hoping to promote Hong Kong as a 3D movie production center.
January 19th, 2010, 07:20 PM
January 19th, 2010, 09:53 PM
Miss Congeniality copycat. No Stanley Kwan, John Woo, Wong Kar Wai material at all.
February 6th, 2010, 06:28 AM
Star says Wong Kar-wai's kung fu biopic will be action-packed
2 February 2010
HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong art-house filmmaker Wong Kar-wai is known for his slow, moody dramas, so when he announced his next project would be a kung fu flick, some were worried it would be more tears and talking than fists of fury.
But the film's star, Cannes-winning actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai, admitted Tuesday that when filming of "The Grand Master" started, the action was so fast-paced that he "almost couldn't hang in there."
"This is a genuine kung fu movie," Leung said at a news conference, adding "there really will be many action scenes."
Leung is starring as the late Ip Man, a pioneer in promoting the wing chun style of kung fu who coached Bruce Lee in his teenage years. Wong's biopic is the second similar movie in recent years. Hong Kong director Wilson Yip's "Ip Man" was a hit in 2008, starring Donnie Yen.
Leung, however, promised it would be a very different take on the martial arts master.
It's guaranteed to be a sharp change in genre for Wong, whose films have drawn Hollywood admirers like Nicole Kidman and Sofia Coppola. His credits include "As Tears Go By," "Chungking Express," "Happy Together" and "In the Mood for Love." "Happy Together" won him best director at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997.
His most recent film was the 2007 English-language release "My Blueberry Nights." Wong's English debut marked singer Norah Jones' first movie and drew an ensemble cast featuring Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, David Strathairn and Natalie Portman.
"The Grand Master" is now shooting in China with a cast that also includes Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi and South Korean Song Hye-kyo.
Leung won best actor at Cannes in 2000 for playing a newspaper editor who has an affair with a married woman in "In the Mood for Love."
February 23rd, 2010, 02:39 AM
Big time for movies fund
Hong Kong Standard
Monday, February 22, 2010
Hong Kong's small to medium budget films are elbowing their way into the international arena with help from the Film Development Fund.
Echoes of the Rainbow, which won the Crystal Bear for best feature film at the Berlin Film Festival, is the second film partly bankrolled by the film to garner critical acclaim.
The first, Claustrophobia by director Ivy Ho Sai-hong, saw Karena Lam Ga-yan win the best actress award at last year's Chungmuro International Film Festival in Seoul.
The fund started off with a bang - its first beneficiary, McDull Kungfu Ding Ding Dong, was a mainland box-office hit in July.
The fund has helped 14 productions in total.
"This Crystal Bear award proves the strength of Hong Kong filmmakers," said Wilfred Wong Ying-wai, fund vetting committee member of the Hong Kong Film Development Council. "I hope we can obtain wider investment from private organizations, and raise the international image of Hong Kong's film industry."
Council chairman Jack So Chak-kwong has told The Peak, sister publication of The Standard, that he hatched the idea for the council in response to the decline in homegrown films.
According to the council's figures released last month, the HK$38.8 million given to the 14 projects is way below the initial amount the government pumped in. And with HK$74.4 million approved for 41 film-related projects and activities to promote the industry, the council still has the financial muscle to help even more productions.
The fund is dedicated to financing films with a budget not exceeding HK$12 million. Funding is capped at 30 percent of a film's budget, or up to HK$3.6 million.
February 24th, 2010, 04:34 PM
Film honors spark call to save old local venue
23 February 2010
China Daily - Hong Kong Edition
Wing Lee Street setting of movie a vanishing Hong Kong heritage
HONG KONG: Creators of the award-winning Echoes of the Rainbow, honored over the weekend at the Berlin Film Festival, have called for the preservation of the street that served as the setting for the film, Wing Lee Street.
The film tells the story of a shoemaker's family in the 1960s. Wing Lee Street in Central was the only Hong Kong street the producers could find, retaining characteristics of 60s Hong Kong, said director Alex Law Kai-yui. He spoke to a press briefing yesterday after Echoes of the Rainbow won the Crystal Bear for the Best Feature Film in the Generation section of the 60th Berlinale 2010 on Sunday.
"If we weren't able to find the street, we would have to shoot the film in Guangzhou or Malaysia. How absurd it would be if a film about Hong Kong history had to be shot outside Hong Kong," said Mabel Cheung Yuen-ting, the producer and Law's wife.
Most tenements along Wing Lee Street, one of the oldest Chinese neighborhoods of Hong Kong, are to be torn down to make way for residential buildings under a redevelopment project approved by the Urban Renewal Authority in 2008.
The film is set in Sham Shui Po and revolves around the life of a shoemaking Guangzhou immigrant, his feisty wife and their two sons. Without twists and turns in plot, the story about common folks in Hong Kong touched an audience comprising young people and children in Germany.
Law, also the screenwriter, said that he has contemplated the story for decades: A large portion of the film came from the diary he kept since his primary school and later composed into a eponymous prose collection.
The urge to tell the story through a film grew stronger and stronger in recent years, "perhaps because of the discussion about the post-1980s people's lack of direction and a lot of negative energy in society," he said.
The people of the 60s faced no fewer difficulties than the younger generation born after the 1980s, Law said.
"But we don't complain. When we met obstacles, we circumvented them or took a new route. Therefore, I've been really, really wanting to make this film in recent years," he said.
But his main intention is to tell the story as it is, rather than bringing out a message.
"I have had this story in my heart for all these years. This is a closure so I can undertake a fresh journey," he said.
Law said he didn't try to target a Western audience and the award came as a surprise.
Giving suggestions to fellow Hong Kong film makers, he said it's more important to have genuine local flavor than to cater to a certain audience.
"If you watch a French movie, would you want something truly French or a French movie about Hong Kong's Dai Pai Dong?" he asked.
Both Law and Cheung took the opportunity to express gratitude to the actors and crew for working for the film despite the modest remuneration, especially Sandra Ng Kwan-yue and Simon Yam Tat-wah, who starred in the movie.
Ng described her remuneration as a "special price for relatives".
Ng decided to take on the project because she was deeply touched by the script. "I cried after reading it five times on the computer," she said. "And I really hate computers."
Scripts she usually receives contain only simple instructions such as "fight fiercely" or "cry". But the script for Echoes of the Rainbow even had descriptions for a goldfish or a shoe, Ng said.
Echoes has also been nominated for the Best Screenplay and Best Original Film Song at the 29th Hong Kong Film Awards to be held on April 18. Cinema screenings will start from March 11.
March 3rd, 2010, 04:06 PM
Hong Kong festival to highlight local films
25 February 2010
HONG KONG (AP) - Hot on the heels of a rare foreign prize for a homegrown production, Hong Kong's main international film festival will shine the spotlight on its native filmmakers, who have been crowded out by the rise of mainland Chinese cinema.
Unveiling the lineup for the 34th Hong Kong International Film Festival, organizers said Thursday the event will kick off with two new romances by local directors -- Ivy Ho's "Crossing Hennessy" and Clara Law's "Like a Dream."
Four other Hong Kong filmmakers are included among the 10 movies showcased in the festival's gala premiere section -- Heiward Mak's drama "Ex," Dante Lam's "Fire of Conscience," Pang Ho-cheung's "Love in a Puff," and "Amphetamine," made by a local director known as Scud.
A prolific producer of stylish action and kung fu flicks in the 1980s and 1990s, Hong Kong's movie industry has been overshadowed by the big-budget historical epics and imperial dramas fueled by mainland China's booming economy. Hong Kong directors and actors have flocked to mainland productions.
But there has been a recent increase in productions that showcase the unique ambiance of this Chinese-ruled former British outpost that blends East and West. That trend received a major boost when the family drama "Echoes of the Rainbow" won the top prize for youth-themed movies at the Berlin International Film Festival last weekend.
The March 21 to April 6 event will screen some 240 movies from more than 50 countries.
Other key screenings include the Asian premieres of the restored version of Fritz Lang's 1927 science fiction classic "Metropolis" and Chinese director Wang Quanan's "Apart Together," which won the best script prize at Berlin.
Web : http://www.hkiff.org.hk/eng/main.html
March 5th, 2010, 09:50 AM
Hong Kong rejoices over Berlin film prize, seeing renaissance in low-budget local story
22 February 2010
HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong celebrated a rare foreign prize for one of its films Monday -- a low-budget family drama set in the 1960s -- a triumph viewed as a huge moral boost for a struggling industry overshadowed by the booming Chinese market.
Alex Law's "Echoes of the Rainbow" won the Crystal Bear prize at the Berlin International Film Festival over the weekend -- the festival's top accolade for youth-themed movies. It's hardly an Oscar -- it's even a step down from Berlin's top-tier Golden Bear and Silver Bear prizes -- but it's generated tremendous excitement in this former British colony desperate for a renaissance in its once-storied motion picture sector.
At its peak in the 1980s and 1990s, when China was still opening up from decades of isolation from the West, this freewheeling capitalist city was a major center of Chinese-language cinema, churning out stylish kung fu and action thrillers that made international stars out of actors like Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Chow Yun-fat.
But with the mainland economy now modernized and thriving, bringing the promise of hundreds of millions of theatergoers, movie production has shifted north, drawing Hong Kong's top talent with it. In a sign of the changing times, Chan also attended the Berlin festival -- but he was there to promote a war film set in ancient China geared toward mainland audiences.
With the Chinese film market now dominated by big-budget historical epics and imperial dramas shot against the vast landscapes of the mainland, stories set in Hong Kong have become all but extinct. While this densely populated financial hub of 7 million people returned to Chinese rule in 1997, many locals still pride themselves on their distinctive identity that draws from both Chinese and Western cultural influences.
So when an unheralded, cheaply budgeted Cantonese film -- the southern Chinese dialect used in Hong Kong, as opposed to the national dialect of Mandarin common on the mainland -- won even a minor prize in Berlin, Hong Kong was euphoric.
News cameras were waiting when Law and producer Mabel Cheung wheeled their baggage carts into the arrival hall at the Hong Kong International Airport early Monday fresh from a flight from Berlin. Their win dominated newspaper headlines.
"The success of the movie shows that in the age of creative industries, low-budget Hong Kong movies still have an irreplaceable advantage," the Wen Wei Po newspaper wrote in an editorial.
The Hong Kong government, which is eager to diversify its services-oriented economy and funded about 30 percent of the film's 12 million Hong Kong dollar budget ($1.5 million), also rejoiced. The win "shows the ability of Hong Kong filmmakers," Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Rita Lau said in a statement Sunday. "The film industry is the flagship of Hong Kong's creative industries."
Speaking to reporters at the Hong Kong airport Monday, Law said the win showed the importance of telling truly local stories.
"I think movies should have a local flavor, a local quality. Now everyone wants to make mainland movies and has stopped making Hong Kong movies. It shouldn't be like that," he said.
He called his story, which revolves around a cobbler's family, a personal tribute to the can-do spirit of working-class Hong Kongers in the 1960s -- when the city was flooded with immigrants seeking to start afresh after fleeing communist rule on the mainland.
"We really didn't complain. When we were confronted with a problem, we would think about how to overcome it or how to bypass it," Law said.
The Hong Kong stars of the movie -- Simon Yam and Sandra Ng -- joked about taking pay cuts to help Law stay within the budget.
"I almost had to pay for the plastic slippers I wore," Ng said.
March 15th, 2010, 06:17 PM
Hong Kong to feature new local films at festival
9 March 2010
HONG KONG (AP) - Organizers of the upcoming Hong Kong International Film Festival on Tuesday previewed an action thriller filled with daredevil stunts and a romance between two smokers, touting a renaissance in the local movie industry as it struggles to compete with the output of mainland China.
The two films -- "Fire of Conscience" and "Love in a Puff" -- were fully financed by the same Hong Kong production company and shot in Hong Kong by local directors with a largely local cast, a rarity at a time when China is churning out big-budget historical epics and imperial dramas, often drawing Hong Kong talent to help make them.
And both showcase this former British colony's skyscraper-filled landscape and its hybrid East-meets-West culture that separates the territory from the mainland, Hong Kong International Film Festival Artistic Director Li Cheuk-to told The Associated Press.
The directors and casts of the films met the press ahead of their world premieres at the Hong Kong festival, which starts March 21.
Dante Lam's $4.5 million production "Fire of Conscience" follows the relationship between a street-wise police officer (Leon Lai) and his higher-ranked, more politically savvy colleague (Richie Jen). Pang Ho-cheung's $1.3 million "Love in a Puff" is about a couple (Shawn Yue and Miriam Yeung) who meet during smoking breaks in alleys behind the office buildings they work in.
"Fire of Conscience" features the kind of over-the-top stunt sequences that gained Hong Kong action cinema world renown, including a gunfight in a traditional Hong Kong teahouse and an explosion in a neighborhood packed with high-rise buildings, Lam said.
"You will only see such a densely populated city in Hong Kong movies. But unlike in the West, where they clear an area for shooting, we shoot in a crowded neighborhood that's carrying on as usual," he said.
"These are the kinds of action films that Hong Kong does best. Action movies in Hollywood involve a lot of money and special effects. Hong Kong films are made by putting your life on the line. They are exhausting and very dangerous," Li said.
Meanwhile, Li praised Pang for breaking new ground by making an unusually down-to-earth Hong Kong romance.
"This is a very uniquely Hong Kong situation. There was an indoor smoking ban and Hong Kong people react this way and behave this way. They use this specific kind of foul language that only Hong Kongers use," he said.
Out of the 24 world premieres at the Hong Kong festival, which runs from March 21 to April 6, eight are productions that were mainly funded in Hong Kong -- double the number from last year, according to Li.
Lam said he believes there is still demand for the distinct flair that Hong Kong cinema brings.
"Hong Kong-style action movies have always occupied a place in the world market. Mainland audiences are the same as audiences around the world. They see the culture of Hong Kong movies," he said. "So they want to see movies with Hong Kong characteristics. I don't think they want to watch 15 to 20 historical dramas a year."
March 17th, 2010, 06:19 PM
March 20th, 2010, 08:27 PM
March 23rd, 2010, 05:48 AM
Some movie trailers from Emperor Motion Pictures (http://www.youtube.com/user/EMPMarketing#p/u/5/S7BoT7d7tHA).
April 5th, 2010, 05:01 AM
Hey the last two videos promos are pretty nice.
What are the names of the movies of the last two videos?
Soz I can't read Cantonese but I'm a big fan of HK movies
April 5th, 2010, 05:13 AM
OMNI 2 used to show great new Cantonese movies on Saturdays, but I think now they've been switching over to Mandarin movies and very old Canto movies... must be running low on funds.
綫人 is The Stool Pigeon
鎗王之王 is Triple Tap
April 5th, 2010, 04:12 PM
Alright cool thanks and yeah OMNI 2 did run Cantonese movies on Saturday's, that's where I first saw Infernal Affairs and fell in love with HK movies.
April 10th, 2010, 03:21 AM
April 11th, 2010, 08:14 AM
Andy Lau hopes new sci-fi films break new ground for Chinese cinema
8 April 2010
HONG KONG (AP) - With the market inundated with kung fu and historical epics, Andy Lau hopes his new sci-fi movie will break new ground for Chinese-language cinema.
The 48-year-old actor-singer attended the premiere for "Future X-Cops" in his native Hong Kong late Wednesday, describing his role as a police officer in 2085 who travels to 2015 to protect a teenager destined to become a prominent scientist.
"I think we've taken the first step in making sci-fi movies. I hope more people will try to shoot these kinds of films. I hope our skill and ability will improve and pull us closer to Western sci-fi movies," Lau told reporters.
Lau said he wore a green jumpsuit during shooting so a computer-generated armor could be applied onto his body.
"We wanted to present something new to audiences. People have seen many action movies. They've seen many comedies," director Wong Jing said.
But "Future X-Cops," which co-stars actresses Fan Binging and Barbie Hsu, faces a tough challenge coming shortly after the massive success of "Avatar," the James Cameron 3-D epic that went on to become the global box office champion of all-time. It was also a huge hit in mainland China.
"Future X-Cops" is also Lau's first release since he was exposed for lying about his marriage, which was seen by some as a ploy to maintain his appeal by projecting the image of a bachelor. The veteran entertainer denied that he was married in a TV interview last February, but Hong Kong journalists tracked down marriage records that showed he wed his Malaysian girlfriend Carol Chu in the U.S. in June 2008. Lau was forced to make a public apology.
But Lau's popularity appear unaffected at the Hong Kong premiere on Wednesday. He was cheered on by about 200 squealing fans after he emerged on an outdoor stage near a popular mall in the Causeway Bay shopping district.
April 21st, 2010, 02:53 AM
July 2nd, 2010, 06:27 PM
John Woo receives hometown honors in Hong Kong, awarded Silver Bauhinia Star
1 July 2010
HONG KONG (AP) - John Woo has received one of the top official honors awarded by his hometown Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong government announced Thursday the veteran director has been bestowed the Silver Bauhinia Star in recognition of his contributions to Hong Kong and Chinese cinema. The award is named after the semiautonomous territory's official flower.
Woo made his name in Hong Kong with stylish action thrillers before moving onto Hollywood, where his credits include "Face/Off" and "Mission: Impossible II." He returned to Chinese film in 2008 with the two-part historical epic "Red Cliff."
Hong Kong announced its annual honors list Thursday to mark the 13th anniversary of the former British colony's return to Chinese rule.
September 4th, 2010, 10:26 PM
Woo Gets Lifetime Prize at Venice Film Festival
Compiled by DAVE ITZKOFF
Published: September 3, 2010
After facilitating the dispersal of countless bullet casings via the slow-motion shootouts he pioneered in his films, John Woo, below, was rewarded Friday with an estimable piece of metal that he gets to keep: the Venice Film Festival gave its Golden Lion award for lifetime achievement to Mr. Woo, the director of Hong Kong action movies like “Hard-Boiled” and “The Killer” and Hollywood blockbusters like “Mission: Impossible II,” The Associated Press reported. In its citation, the festival praised him “as an innovator of the contemporary language of cinema,” but Mr. Woo said, “I wouldn’t say that I have much contributed to film society, even though I made several good films.” He said he hoped his future work would provide “a bridge between the good things of the West and the East, so we can further our mutual knowledge and build a strong friendship.” Following the historical “Red Cliff,” set in China’s feudal period, Mr. Woo’s latest film is “Reign of Assassins,” a martial-arts movie showing out of competition in Venice.
A version of this brief appeared in print on September 4, 2010, on page
January 22nd, 2011, 08:55 AM
Update of 1982's 'The Shaolin Temple' goes for blockbuster drama but still has flashy kung fu
19 January 2011
HONG KONG (AP) - It's the kung fu classic that launched the career of a then little-known 17-year-old Chinese martial arts champion called Jet Li.
Nearly three decades later, "The Shaolin Temple" has received a blockbuster update, with the backing of the famous center of fighting monks of the title and the setting of the 1982 release. Veteran Hong Kong action director Benny Chan has written a new story and cast some of the biggest names in Chinese cinema -- Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Nicholas Tse and Fan Bingbing.
It is the latest screen portrayal of the 1,500-year-old Shaolin Temple in central China, whose kung fu monks have been featured in many TV series and movies. But the 2011 version is only the second to be authorized by temple officials.
Benny Chan, who directed Jackie Chan in some of his recent Hong Kong action thrillers including "Who Am I?," "New Police Story" and "Rob-B-Hood," is unabashed about being a crowd-pleaser.
"I am a commercial director. I am not an art-house director. I don't know how to create very artistic shots. I don't know how to shoot slowly," the Hong Kong filmmaker told The Associated Press in a recent interview.
But fans who are expecting an action-packed extravaganza must think twice. Unlike the 1982 original, which featured trademark Shaolin-style moves, Chan's focus is drama -- not kung fu. And Chan says he asked choreographer Corey Yuen to imbue the flashy action sequences the film does have with what he calls the spirit of "Zen fighting" -- a composed style that stresses personal development over violence.
"The Shaolin Temple" is a revenge story -- Li plays a young boy adopted and trained by Shaolin monks who tries to avenge his father's death. For the 135-minute update, simply called "Shaolin," Benny Chan crafted an ambitious story arch. Set in China's warlord era shortly after the downfall of imperial rule in the early 20th century, Lau plays a local military ruler paranoid about being betrayed by an ally. He devised an assassination plot, only to be double-crossed by his second-in-command (Tse). Lau's character then seeks refuge in the Shaolin Temple and becomes a monk who repents his terrorizing ways of the past.
"Everyone knows the first movie mainly features the Shaolin-style of kung fu, especially given its star, Jet Li, was a five-time national champion at the time. That's a big selling point. But I won't use a martial arts champion as a selling point. Andy Lau is an actor," Chan said. The veteran Hong Kong leading man is widely respected for his talent as much as his heartthrob looks.
"Do I need to turn Andy Lau into Jet Li? I don't see the need. I don't want to," he said, adding that Lau, a devout Buddhist himself, gave suggestions on how to develop his character.
There is kung fu in the movie -- Lau is seen practicing a set of Shaolin-style punches with a group of monks -- although Chan says his focus was the philosophy behind the fighting.
"I don't think very flashy and very powerful moves are a display of Zen fighting ... As I understand the spirit of Zen fighting is that you have to understand your ability first, how powerfully you can strike a fist. And then how to break through your limitations. And you will become happier as you practice more," the director said, pointing to a scene where Lau's warlord character blissfully practices his moves side-by-side with a young monk on a cold night.
"I tried to portray a state of mind," he said.
The interplay between the warlord and Jackie Chan's character is another highlight. Benny Chan said he purposely paired them -- Lau's calculating, Machiavellian military man and Jackie Chan's role of a happy-go-lucky monk who runs the Shaolin kitchen.
Despite the meditative story, "Shaolin" also has the trappings of any major commercial production. A massive explosion scene took a month to shoot and, naturally, couldn't be set at the real temple. Instead, they splurged 20 million Chinese yuan ($3 million) on a full-sized replica that included a 9.9-meter- (32-feet-) tall Buddha statue.
Benny Chan said the final scene was a painstaking process and a huge technical achievement. He did not use special effects and could only complete a few shots a day.
"It was very memorable. It was very taxing and very dangerous," he said.
"Shaolin" is being released in China and the Philippines on Wednesday; in Australia on Thursday; in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia on Friday; and in Vietnam on Feb. 18.
February 27th, 2011, 05:14 AM
Johnnie To romance, short films by Cannes winners to open Hong Kong Film Festival
25 February 2011
HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong veteran Johnnie To's new romantic comedy as well as short films directed by Cannes-winning filmmakers from the Philippines and Thailand will open the 35th Hong Kong International Film Festival in March.
Organizers announced Thursday that To's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" will open the event along with "Quattro Hong Kong 2," an omnibus film comprising four shorts set in Hong Kong that was commissioned by the festival.
The shorts were directed by Thailand's Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the Philippines' Brillante Mendoza, Hong Kong's Stanley Kwan and Malaysia's Ho Yu-hang.
Apichatpong won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival last year for the drama "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives." Mendoza was named Cannes best director in 2009 for the crime thriller "Kinatay."
"Don't Go Breaking My Heart," which pairs Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan with Hong Kong heartthrob Louis Koo and Chinese-American Daniel Wu, is part of To's recent push into the mainland Chinese market. The veteran director is best known for his stylish action thrillers but is now hoping to reach a broader audience in China with light comedies.
As their contributions to "Quattro Hong Kong 2," Apichatpong shot the segment "M Hotel" in Hong Kong's Yau Ma Tei residential and shopping district and Mendoza made "Purple" -- a reference to the color of Hong Kong's official flower, the bauhinia. The Philippine filmmaker shot at Hong Kong's flower market and the outyling fishing village of Tai O, best known for its houses on stilts.
Malaysian Ho shot the comedy "Open Verdict," starring veteran Hong Kong actress Wai Ying-hung, while Kwan contributed "13 Minutes in the Lives of ...," which he said is a sentimental look at a Hong Kong bus ride.
"For a filmmaker who is spending more and more time in mainland China these past few years, coming back to Hong Kong is especially emotional. The emotions are complex," Kwan told The Associated Press.
The Hong Kong festival will also feature a retrospective of Wai's movies and a master class by Venice-winning Chinese director Jia Zhangke. Organizers will also stage the Asian premiere of "Vampire," the English debut of Japanese director Shunji Iwai starring Kevin Segers, Rachael Leigh Cook and Keisha Castle-Hughes. Iwai is a music video and TV director-turned-filmmaker who made his name with the 1995 romance "Love Letter."
The Hong Kong festival, which runs from March 20 to April 5, will feature some 300 movies from 56 countries.
March 6th, 2011, 04:20 PM
Low-budget Hong Kong action-comedy becomes critics', cult favorite
22 February 2011
HONG KONG (AP) - A low-budget Hong Kong action-comedy stole the spotlight at the local critics' awards prize ceremony on Tuesday, earning praise for capturing this southern Chinese territory's can-do spirit and providing an alternative to star-studded blockbusters.
The 5 million Hong Kong dollar ($642,000) production "Gallants" was an unlikely standout among last year's releases, with its quirky tale of a Hong Kong kung fu master who briefly awakens from a 30-year-long coma to train two aging students and two newcomers. There are no major stars in the cast, no lavish period costumes or epic fight scenes. Instead, co-directors Clement Cheng and Kwok Chi-kin assembled a team of veteran actors from 1970s and 1980s Hong Kong movies.
And yet the 2010 release has become a critical hit and cult favorite. It clinched best film and best actor prizes at the Hong Kong Film Critics Society annual awards in results announced earlier in the year, and was voted one of the two audience favorites at the New York Asian Film Festival last year.
It also has been nominated in seven categories, including best film and best director, at the upcoming Hong Kong Film Awards, which will be announced on April 17.
At the critics prize ceremony on Tuesday, Teddy Robin, who played the loud and flirtatious kung fu master who rises from a coma, received loud cheers as he picked up his best actor trophy.
"I really didn't expect that many viewers to like this movie," one of the directors, Kwok, told The Associated Press after the award ceremony. "When I made this movie, I didn't really think about the response. When it came to casting and the direction of the story, I just followed my preferences, but it turns out that quite a few people like the movie."
Hong Kong Film Critics Society President Bryan Chang said he particularly enjoyed the humor and the never-say-die spirit of the movie, which is captured by the mantra repeated by Robin's character -- "If you don't fight you won't lose, but if you fight you must try to win."
"I haven't seen something so cheerful and so funny in a long time," Chang told the AP.
"Gallants" may lack on-screen star power, but its main investor was Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau, who also visited the set to give acting tips.
Producer Lam Ka-tung, a veteran actor himself, called the critical acclaim a form of vindication for creative, low-budget productions.
"The general climate dictates that you need certain stars, you need to be able to guarantee certain markets. But I wondered does it have to be that way? I think it's important to try new things," Lam told the AP.
In other awards presented on Tuesday, best director went to Taiwanese filmmaker Su Chao-pin, who directed former Bond girl Michelle Yeoh in the kung fu thriller "Reign of Assassins." Best actress went to Miriam Yeung for the romantic comedy "Perfect Wedding." Best screenwriter went to Ivy Ho for "Crossing Hennessy," which she also directed.
March 17th, 2011, 06:57 PM
A Slice of Hong Kong Life
MARCH 17, 2011, 3:25 PM HKT
By Dean Napolitano
Hong Kong director Stanley Kwan’s new film features a large ensemble cast, all the action takes place aboard a bus, and it runs just 13 minutes.
The film—appropriately titled “13 Minutes in the Lives of …”—is one of four short films that comprise “Quattro Hong Kong 2,” one of the two opening-night features at this year’s Hong Kong International Film Festival, which kicks off Sunday and runs through April 5. Mr. Kwan is among a quartet of prominent Asian directors who contributed to “Quattro,” along with Apichatpong Weerasethakul from Thailand, Brillante Mendoza from the Philippines and Malaysia’s Ho Yu-hang.
The four films aren’t connected in story line, but all reflect some aspect of Hong Kong life. (The project is a follow-up to last year’s “Quattro Hong Kong,” which also featured the work of four well-known directors.)
Shot on a microbudget of 200,000 Hong Kong dollars (US$25,641), Mr. Kwan’s film was inspired by an experience he had last year while on Hong Kong’s airport train to the city. Aboard the train car were Hong Kong residents returning from AsiaWorld-Expo, an exhibition complex next to the airport, visitors from mainland China and foreign travelers—all speaking different languages.
“All of a sudden it was like radio: channel 1, Mandarin; channel 2, English; channel 3, Cantonese,” Mr. Kwan recalls. “I could understand all the languages,” he says, and all the private conversations among the people sitting around him.
So he worked with screenwriter Jimmy Ngai—his long-time collaborator—and turned that experience into a movie, although he shifted the setting to a bus because filming on a train would have proved too expensive.
Over the past quarter century the 53-year-old filmmaker has earned a reputation as one of Asia’s leading art-house directors and for crafting films that focus on women.
“Centre Stage” (1992), about the life of Chinese silent-film star Ruan Lingyu who committed suicide at the age of 24 in 1935, gave actress Maggie Cheung one of the most celebrated roles in her career.
Mr. Kwan’s films also often explore themes of romantic longing or doomed romance. “Rouge” (1987), a tragic love story between a wealthy young man and beautiful courtesan set in the 1930s, is considered by many critics to be one of the best films to emerge from among Hong Kong’s new-wave filmmakers of the 1980s.
A few of Mr. Kwan’s films have met with some controversy. “Lan Yu” (2001), a gay-male romantic drama set partially against the backdrop of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown and filmed in Beijing, ran up against Chinese authorities. The film has never been released in mainland China but it has screened at several high-profile film festivals around the world, and its Chinese star, Liu Ye, received a best-actor trophy at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards.
“It was an underground film,” Mr. Kwan says. Neither the script nor the final film were submitted to Beijing’s film authorities as required.
Mr. Kwan says he received a phone call from an official at the government’s film bureau. “He was quite polite and said ‘Please don’t make this kind of film again,’” Mr. Kwan recalls. “He didn’t mention anything about a ban or threats. He put it in a very nice way. He just encouraged me to make something good for the country and good for the film industry.”
Since then, Mr. Kwan has worked steadily in mainland China. His most recent film before the “Quattro Hong Kong 2” project was “Showtime,” which premiered at last year’s Venice Film Festival and was shot on location in Shanghai. The film, which emerged from a stage production he directed in Shanghai, showcases the talents of more than a dozen young performers from an arts academy.
In addition to the screening of “13 Minutes in the Lives of …” at this year’s festival, Mr. Kwan also will present to potential investors a film project he hopes to begin shooting soon, which will be titled “To the End of Love.”
March 20th, 2011, 07:51 AM
Hollywood to use HK for another backdrop
5 March 2011
Four years after The Dark Knight descended on the city, Hong Kong's skyline and Victoria Harbour are set to feature in another Hollywood film. But this time there is no superhero.
On Monday and Tuesday, subject to the Civil Aviation Department's approval, a film crew in a helicopter will be circling above the harbour.
Pop singer Rihanna will make her movie debut in the science fiction naval-war film Battleship, directed by former actor Peter Berg. One of the scenes will be set in Victoria Harbour, but Rihanna's fans may be disappointed - none of the cast will be in the city.
Line producer Chu Chen-on, from production services company October Pictures, said only some general aerial scenes would be shot. "It is the characteristic dense skyscrapers that attracted the filmmaker," Chu said.
The film was named after a pencil and paper game, in which players try to destroy each other's fleet.
In the film plot, a navy fleet must battle a group of aliens known as the Regents. The aliens, which are not aiming to conquer humans, want to build a power source in the ocean, but then they encounter the fleet.
Chu would only say that a meteor shower will be added to the city's sky during post-production.
Whether the audience will see an alien attacking Hong Kong remains a secret.
"It is their commercial secret. Even I do not know much about it," he said.
A Civil Aviation Department spokeswoman said the application for filming was still being considered.
Chu said he did not know about the application as the helicopter operator had submitted it.
Eastern District residents were informed about the shooting, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday from 8am to 6pm. A helicopter will fly over the harbour around Sai Wan Ho, Shau Kei Wan and Lantau Island.
Chu said the helicopter would fly as low as 60 metres above Yiu Tung Estate.
Lower Yiu Tung district councillor Hui Ko-hoo expressed concern over the possible noise nuisance.
But Chu gave assurances that the noise would be "similar to buses running on roads".
Scenes for Batman: The Dark Knight were filmed in Hong Kong in 2007. The film crew's week-long schedule involving a helicopter and a low-flying C130 aircraft raised the hackles of several number of Central and Western District councillors because of noise and traffic concerns.
The Battleship cast includes Liam Neeson, an Oscar nominee for his role in Schindler's List, American model Brooklyn Decker, Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgard and Rihanna.
Skarsgard is best known for playing the vampire Eric Northman in the HBO TV series True Blood.
Battleship is due for release in May next year.
March 20th, 2011, 07:29 PM
Apple Daily said the movie is going to blow up 2IFC!
But noise concern raised from the district council seems a little nonsense to some extend.
It is only one flight over your head for a few minute during the day time, how much disturbance can that be.
March 21st, 2011, 11:06 AM
Hong Kong film festival opens, mood subdued because of Japanese disasters
By MIN LEE
AP Entertainment Writer
20 March 2011
HONG KONG (AP) - Some of Asia's top filmmakers screened their new movies to kick off the 35th Hong Kong International Film Festival on Sunday, although the mood was subdued because of Japan's earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters.
Japan's crisis cast doubt on whether its actors and directors will attend the Hong Kong festival. Popular Japanese director Shunji Iwai, a native of hard-hit Sendai city, has canceled his appearance at the Asian premiere of his first English-language movie, "Vampire." It remains unclear whether prominent Japanese nominees like Koji Yakusho, Rinko Kikuchi and Takako Matsu will attend the awards ceremony, the Asian Film Awards, on Monday.
However, a delegation from the Tokyo International Film Festival attended Sunday's opening ceremony.
Festival chairman Wilfred Wong expressed solidarity with Japan's people and its film industry.
"Ever since the Hong Kong International Film Festival started 35 years ago, Japanese film has occupied an important place at the event. Our Japanese friends in the film industry have also supported the festival continuously," Wong said. "At this difficult time, I want to deliver our sincere condolences and best wishes to the entire Japanese people, including our many friends in the film industry."
The Hong Kong event's two opening films were "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," a romantic comedy directed by Hong Kong veteran Johnnie To and regular partner Wai Ka-fai, and "Quattro Hong Kong 2," which combines four shorts set in this southern Chinese financial hub made by filmmakers from Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. The omnibus work was commissioned by the Hong Kong festival.
"Don't Go Breaking My Heart" is part of To's recent push into the mainland Chinese market with blander fare than his signature crime thrillers, which are often too violent or gritty to pass mainland censorship. But the movie's story of a playboy Hong Kong trader and an earnest Canadian-Chinese architect pulling all stops to win the heart of a mainland Chinese financial analyst reads like political commentary on China's growing geopolitical clout.
To didn't attend Sunday's opening ceremony, but his co-director denied any political overtones in the movie.
"There is nothing like that," Wai told The Associated Press. "This is more simple. We just wanted to capture the common dilemma that women face when choosing between two very different boys."
The film derives much of its comedy through the unusual courtship between the main characters -- they work in neighboring office buildings and communicate by writing signs they display to each other. The narrative tool has evoked comparisons to Australian director Patrick Hughes' hit short, "Signs," which has received more than 6.5 million views on YouTube. Wai, however, said the Hong Kong filmmakers came up with the idea independently and only later saw "Signs."
"If you live in Hong Kong, you'll notice that many buildings are very close together. My home is like that," he said.
"Quattro Hong Kong 2" draws from contributions from two Cannes-winning directors -- the Philippines' Brillante Mendoza and Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul -- as well as Hong Kong's Stanley Kwan and Malaysia's Ho Yu-hang. Mendoza was named Cannes best director in 2009 for his crime thriller "Kinatay," while Apichatpong clinched the French festival's top prize last year with the drama "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives."
Mendoza, who shot in Hong Kong's flower market and Tai O, a remote fishing village known for its houses on stilts, said his short explores the generational gap in Hong Kong.
He told the AP his movie contrasts locals who cling to the past and a younger generation that is quick to adapt. "It's about the progression of Hong Kong," he said.
Ho, on the other hand, came up with a story of two Malaysian anti-drug agents who work with their Hong Kong counterparts.
"I brought some elements of Malaysia into this Hong Kong project because it's very strange for me to come to Hong Kong and shoot a film about Hong Kong, which is kind of presumptuous," he told the AP, adding that he adopted a "guerrilla-style" approach shooting in the cramped conditions of the densely populated city.
March 24th, 2011, 06:50 PM
Comparative glance at Hong Kong war-era films
By Lee Hyo-won
A scene from the 1953 postwar Hong Kong film "In the Face of Demolition"
HONG KONG — A nightclub taxi driver carries on listlessly, a teacher is thrown out of work, and a jobless draftsman is reduced — to everyone’s unconcealed shock and dismay — to selling his blood: Such characters are portrayed conceptually yet deftly, in an affectionately embracing tone and not without genuine humor.
The 1953 film “In the Face of Demolition” is representative of realist Hong Kong cinema of the period that reflects themes of solidarity among the urban poor. The story is set mostly in an apartment building inhabited by people desperately clutching onto the lower rungs of the middle class. The film suggests these individuals’ problems are inevitable in light of the social climate and the greed of ruthless landlords.
For Koreans, Cantonese cinema may call to mind martial arts heroes, and interestingly, the abovementioned film by Li Tie actually sees a teenaged Bruce Lee as a newspaper boy.
Cinema is a window into a certain time and place, and Asian films made in the wake of tumultuous modern historical events — namely Japanese imperialism in the early 20th century — provide a telling glimpse of a shared experience.
During the colonial period (1910-45), Korean cinema was entirely controlled by the Japanese, with the use of Korean language even banned in films in 1942. Cinema became a propaganda tool for the imperialist government. More drastically, in Hong Kong, film production ceased altogether for three years and eight months during Japanese occupation there (1941-45).
Though the foreign authorities failed to establish a collaborationist film industry in Hong Kong, the Japanese destroyed many pre-war films in order to extract silver nitrate for military use. In Korea the onset of the Korean War (1950-53) saw the destruction of many.
Nevertheless the affect of war was considerable, Cantonese cineastes were forced to star in propaganda projects, and would be sharply criticized after liberation. One such individual is Tsi Lo Lin, an opera singer-turned-movie star. She now lives in Canada but still refuses to speak to the press.
Following liberation from Japan, the film industry flourished in both Korea and Hong Kong, opening up what is largely recognized as the golden era for cinema.
Both industries in the 1950s and 1960s saw films capturing similar realist elements that carry strong social commentaries and moral messages. In the Sino cinema scene, films depicted not so much direct battle scenes but stories that captured the human spirit of the times. Films such as “Road” (1959), “Tormented Beauty” (1958) and “Sea” (1963) show the virtues of resilience, compassion and helping one another. Korean cinema also saw works such as “Viva Freedom!” (1946) that celebrated freedom fighters, but postwar cinema is largely dominated by melodramatic works such as “Madame Freedom” (1956) that reflect changing family values.
Among Hong Kong films made at the time, the works of Union Film Enterprise stands out. Post-war Hong Kong saw an annual output of more than 300 films, partly due to the high demand for films in Southeast Asia.
“But the large quantity often compromised the quality of the work, and Union Film stepped up to begin a sort of ‘clean-up campaign,’ to produce works with a purpose,” said Fu Winnie Wai-yee, programmer of the Hong Kong Film Archive. The aforementioned “In the Face of Demolition” is an example of a Union Film, which speaks as the voice of the struggling masses.
The Hong Kong Film Archive houses more than 9,000 Cantonese film titles, including 1950s and 1960s works that were discovered in U.S. Chinatowns, said Richie Lam Kok-sing, head of the institute. The archive also donated some 10 South Korean films, mostly action movies from the 1980s including co-productions with Hong Kong filmmakers, to the Korean Film Archive, he said.
For more information visit www.filmarchive.gov.hk.
March 29th, 2011, 05:35 PM
(明報)2011年3月29日 星期二 23:25
April 15th, 2011, 04:17 AM
'World's first 3D porn film' opens in Hong Kong
Apr 14 05:56 AM US/Eastern
Movie-goers flocked to see what is billed as the world's first 3D porn film as it opened to packed cinemas across Hong Kong on Thursday, with some screenings selling out completely.
Loosely based on a piece of classical Chinese erotic literature, the $3.2-million Cantonese-language movie "3-D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy" features orgies, swinging and some very graphic sex scenes.
Curious movie-goers from all walks of life -- office workers, retirees and students -- formed long queues outside cinemas in the southern Chinese city, eager to catch an eyeful of steamy 3D action.
Many in the crowd were women and were not shy about watching the movie.
"I'm not normally much of a movie-goer, but this one is just too good to miss," 32-year-old Justin Lai told AFP as she waited at a cinema in Causeway Bay, one of the city's busiest entertainment districts.
"I'd like to see what 3D porn is like on the big screen."
College student Yan Shek, 21, was also among the first to see the movie in a morning screening. The 113-minute film has been rated Category III in Hong Kong, which bars anyone under 18 from watching it.
"We are very curious," she said. "It is the first time to see an X-rated film in the cinema. It should be very interesting."
Another movie-goer said he snuck out of work to watch the movie.
"I'm catching the first show on the first day so I'll be the first of my friends to see it," said sales executive David, who declined to be identified in full.
Set in the Ming dynasty, the film chronicles the story of a young man who, after being introduced to the erotic world of an aristocrat, realises his ex-wife is the love of his life.
The film stars Japanese adult actresses Yukiko Suo and Saori Hara.
The movie will open in Taiwan on Friday and has sparked strong interest in many Asian markets, including Japan and South Korea, as well Europe and the United States, according to the producer.
Travel operators were reportedly organising moviegoing excursions to Hong Kong and Taiwan for tourists from mainland China, where strict censorship rules prevent any screening of the film.
"We are very pleased with ticket sales," Sharyn Yau, publicist for China 3D Digital Entertainment Ltd told AFP.
"Last week, we heard that 70-80 percent for this weekend's tickets have already been sold. People obviously love the movie."
But South China Morning Post film critic Paul Fonoroff was left rather underwhelmed by the romp, describing it in a review as over-long, one-dimensional and short on real passion.
"Perhaps the most ironic element is the script's ostensible moral that sincere love is more satisfying than wanton promiscuity, a concept which, if truly put into practice, would cause ticket sales to go flaccid," he wrote.
The movie is a remake of the 1991 film "Sex and Zen", which is still the highest-grossing Hong Kong adult movie of all time.
"3-D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy" opens ahead of reported plans by other filmmakers to produce similar 3D porn movies.
Italian director Tinto Brass has announced he is to produce a 3D remake of his 1979 erotic film Caligula, while Hustler plans to release a pornographic spoof of 3D science fiction film Avatar, the top-grossing movie of all time.
September 11th, 2011, 03:34 PM
SCED congratulates Deanie Ip on winning best actress award at Venice Film Festival
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Government Press Release
The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, today (September 11) congratulated Hong Kong seasoned actress Ms Deanie Ip for winning the Coppa Volpi for Best Actress award at the 68th Venice International Film Festival.
"I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to Ms Ip. This award is not only an international recognition of Ms Ip's outstanding achievement, but a testimony of the level of excellence in our film industry. We applaud Ms Ip's achievement which is an immense encouragement to us all, and particularly to those in the industry," Mr So said.
Mr So also said Hong Kong films are renowned globally and have received numerous international awards. The Government will continue its efforts to nurture talent on all fronts with a view to promoting its sustainable development in the industry, through the Create Hong Kong office and the Film Development Council.
Ms Ip received the best actress award for her role in the film "Tao Jie" (A Simple Life), which depicts a heart-warming story between her and the master she looked after.
March 14th, 2012, 04:46 PM
Japanese movie fans enjoy Hong Kong productions in Osaka
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Government Press Release
Some 300 movie fans today (March 14) spent a romantic evening together in Osaka, Japan, enjoying the premiere of the Hong Kong movie "Romancing in Thin Air", a touching love story directed by leading movie maker Johnnie To.
Speaking at the "Hong Kong Night" reception held before the premiere, the Principal Hong Kong Economic and Trade Representative (Tokyo), Ms Sally Wong, said that over the past few decades Hong Kong producers, actors, directors and cinematographers have become household names internationally with their high-quality productions.
"We exported about US$37 million worth of films in 2010, and last year our films and talents won altogether 42 awards in 17 film festivals worldwide," she said.
Ms Wong pointed out that the film industry is one of the six new economic growth engines in which Hong Kong enjoys clear advantages for further advancement.
"The Government strives to create an environment conducive to the long-term healthy development of our film industry, and provides financial support through the Film Development Fund and the Film Guarantee Fund," she said.
"Another important factor that reinforces Hong Kong's leading role as Asia's media hub is the implementation of the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement. This unique trade pact between Hong Kong and the Mainland has broadened the horizons for Hong Kong's film industry.
"We sincerely welcome overseas film industries to collaborate with their Hong Kong counterpart and capitalise on the latter's experience and networks in the Mainland to make the most out of the exciting opportunities emerging in China," Ms Wong added.
At the reception, Ms Wong was joined by film talents whose works have been selected for screening in the Hong Kong Film Festival now being held in Osaka.
Running from March 11 to 18, the Hong Kong Film Festival is jointly organised by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (Tokyo) and the Hong Kong Tourism Board, in partnership with the Osaka Asian Film Festival.
Six films, including "Romancing in Thin Air", are being shown in the festival. The other five movies are Tsang Tsui-shan's "Big Blue Lake", Carol Lai's "The Second Woman", Peter Chan's "Wu Xia", Derek Tsang and Jimmy Wan's "Lover's Discourse" and Adam Wong and Saville Chan's "Friends".
The film festival is part of a series of events to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
March 18th, 2012, 05:19 PM
Hong Kong director Ann Hui honoured for life's work
Mar 17, 2012
Hong Kong director Ann Hui will be honoured for her life's work at the Asian Film Awards on Monday, in recognition of classics such as "Song of the Exile".
Hui, the first female director to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society, is widely regarded as a pioneer of the southern city's New Wave of the 1970s and 1980s.
"Once you reach a certain age, you have to receive lifetime achievement awards," the 64-year-old joked in an interview with AFP ahead of the ceremony in Hong Kong's harbourside convention centre.
"But I can't afford to retire, so it puts me in a difficult situation.
"I'm feeling really honoured though."
Hui has churned out classic after classic in more than 30 years as a filmmaker, in a career which began with television dramas for Hong Kong station TVB and bloomed with her first feature film, "The Secret", in 1979.
Born in northeastern China's Liaoning province to a Japanese mother and Chinese father, Hui lived in Macau until she was five and then moved with her family to Hong Kong.
She studied at the London International Film School before returning to Hong Kong to start her career, an experience loosely re-told in one of her most important works, "Song of the Exile" from 1990.
The film tells a story of disorientation and loss of identity as a young Chinese woman leaves her studies in London and comes back to Hong Kong to learn about her Japanese mother's past and her own troubled childhood.
Her most recent work, last year's "A Simple Life", received worldwide acclaim with its heart-warming tale about the relationship between a young Hong Kong man and the servant who raised him.
Deanie Ip won the Best Actress Award at the 68th Venice International Film Festival for her role as the loyal servant.
"I am a Hong Konger, I was educated in Hong Kong, my career is based in Hong Kong, creating films about Hong Kong," Hui said.
"The films I've made that have been based on Hong Kong have been my best."
She said she felt a responsibility to make a "record of the culture and heritage" of the city she lives in, rather than "worrying about whether a story works commercially".
In her early years, Hui gave breakthrough roles to actors such as Chow Yun-fat and Andy Lau, both of whom have become international stars.
"I feel like the past few years, my films have been received well because Hong Kongers seem to be more conscious and sensitive of their identity. I feel like there has been more appreciation," she said.
Hui is less appreciative, however, of those who connect her gender to her success.
"When I first started making films 30 years ago, people would comment that I was a woman. But strangely, when I was in television, no one ever mentioned that I was a woman," she said.
"Maybe it was because television and film were different. There were more women working in television than men. There was no split in terms of work -- everyone was considered equal."
She said there was no need to point out her gender in order to "raise the status of women".
"An ideal situation would be to not mention whether a movie was made by a man or a woman, but I guess we still haven't achieved equality between the genders.
"I think once we reach a more desirable stage, then gender won't be mentioned."
The 6th Asian Film Awards coincide with the Hong Kong International Film Festival and the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum, where Asian filmmakers market their ideas to international investors.
July 18th, 2012, 06:02 AM
New schemes to boost HK film industry
(China Daily, July 17)
HONG KONG -- Hong Kong Film Development Council announced Monday new initiatives to help the city's film industry groom talent and tap the Cantonese market in neighboring province of Guangdong.
A scheme introduced this month would help lift a quota and allow for the synchronized release of Hong Kong films' Cantonese versions in Guangdong province as imported films with a maximum 25 percent share of box-office takings, said the council in a statement.
Another initiative aimed at funding the distribution and publicity costs of Hong Kong films distributed in Guangdong province on an accountable and reimbursable basis, up to a maximum HK$250,000 ($32,216) sponsorship for each film. The council will also raise the upper limits of government contribution under the Film Development Fund Scheme for Financing Film Production.
September 3rd, 2012, 07:42 AM
Who wouldn't want to be the LKF USB?