Why HK film industry welcomes Lam with open arms

April 18, 2019 12:09
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the government is responsive to the aspirations of the Hong Kong film industry. Photo: CNSA

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor attended the 38th Hong Kong Film Awards on Sunday and presented a lifetime achievement award to veteran actor Patrick Tse Yin.

The last time the city's chief executive was invited to the Hong Kong Film Awards as a special award presenter was back in 2004, when former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa attended the annual event and presented the best Asian film award to Japanese filmmaker Yoji Yamada's The Twilight Samurai.

So after 15 years, what exactly reconnected our chief executive to the Hong Kong Film Awards?

Perhaps, the answer lies in Lam’s proposal to inject HK$1 billion into the Film Development Fund under the Hong Kong Film Development Council in her 2018 Policy Address to “nurture talent, enhance local film production, expand markets and build up audiences”.

Lam’s initiative was considered a rare move as far as the government is concerned.

It is also understood that the pledge laid down in the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area to “support Hong Kong in its development into an exposition hub for television and film” is the result of Lam’s intense and painstaking lobbying.

And things are just getting better for the local movie industry. Before attending the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Lam announced that central authorities are supporting five relaxation measures that are “outstanding aspirations of the local film industry”.

The five measures include removing the restriction on the number of Hong Kong people participating in mainland film productions, and lifting the limit on the percentage of Hong Kong artistes and requirement of mainland-related plots in films jointly produced by the two places.

Fees for establishing co-production projects will be waived, and Hong Kong films and film practitioners will also be allowed to participate in mainland film festivals.

Moreover, Hong Kong film companies will be allowed to apply for incentives for distributing and promoting outstanding mainland motion pictures and mainland-Hong Kong co-productions in Hong Kong, Macau and overseas.

Lam’s support for Hong Kong movie makers probably explains why she got a strong burst of applause from the audience when she appeared on stage on Sunday night as a special award presenter.

However, there are also some who wondered why Lam didn’t present the best actor award to Anthony Wong Chau-sang, who has been professionally affected, particular his film career in the mainland, due to his comments and remarks connected to the Occupy Movement.

A government figure explained that the matter was entirely up to the organizers of the event, not the administration, to determine who will present which awards.

Besides, the same source agreed that it was an appropriate arrangement to let the chief executive present the lifetime achievement award to Tse, since the award is a highly honorable and substantially important one – and Tse isn’t a politically sensitive figure.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 16

Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]


Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.