Second fiddle

Hong Kong film industry enters second-tier


When Hong Kong actor Louis Koo, 47, accepted best actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards this month – his first time winning after multiple nominations – he exclaimed: “I have been thinking how we can all make Hong Kong film thrive. Hong Kong people must be united… the industry needs your support.”

But it’s not only the Hong Kong film industry that needs to be revived. In fact, the Hong Kong Film Awards ceremony, which was once known as Asia’s Oscar-equivalent, finds itself fighting to reassert its relevance. As one netizen in China puts it, “No one in the country seems to care about what goes on at the Hong Kong Film Awards.”

This year the award ceremony coincided with the opening day of the Beijing Film Festival, one of the biggest film events in China. As a result, most of Chinese showbiz’s biggest names – like Huang Bo and Wang Baoqiang – chose to stay closer to home (actress Shu Qi, pictured, made a quick appearance in Hong Kong before jetting to the capital city).

Chief Entertainment Officer, a blog, reckons that the problem the Hong Kong show faces is not so different from the city’s longstanding and once influential film industry – namely, a paucity of younger talent.

This year, veteran filmmaker Ann Hui’s wartime epic Our Time Will Come, a patriotic story about a Communist group fighting Japanese occupation in wartime Hong Kong, was the biggest winner, bagging five awards out of 11 nominations, including best film and best director. It is also her sixth best director gong at the Hong Kong awards.

“The ‘big victory’ of Ann Hui, however, is a lost opportunity for young filmmakers. The longer she dominates the award show, the more difficult it is for young filmmakers who are waiting for their big break,” Chief Entertainment Officer laments. “The reality is, the award show has had to rely on veteran directors and celebrities to remind people of its previous glory. The talent shortage, in many ways, is the fundamental reason of Hong Kong’s film industry’s overall decline.” It’s true. In the WiC office we found it hard to name a local actor under 30 of the calibre of older-generation stars like Tony Leung or Maggie Cheung.

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