The "Hong Kong Cinema" segment was officially launched today (July 23) at the 53rd Melbourne International Film Festival.
Speaking at the opening reception, Mrs Jenny Wallis, Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, said that the inclusion of a Hong Kong film segment at the festival reflected the quality and growing popularity of Hong Kong films in Australia and indicated more specifically the close bonds Hong Kong and Australia had developed in recent years in both economic and cultural affairs.
"Hong Kong is a very small but dynamic place. We have a population of just on 7 million. Yet per capita, we produce more films than any other place on earth. And we want to maintain that status," Mrs Wallis said.
"Plans have been announced just last month for a mega entertainment expo in Hong Kong that we believe could become the 'Cannes of the East'."
The expo will be held from March 22 to April 6 next year. It will bring together under one roof the Hong Kong International Film & TV Market, the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the Hong Kong Film Awards Presentation Ceremony, the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum and the Hong Kong Digital Entertainment Excellence Awards.
"There's got to be something in this blockbuster for the Australian film industry and I hope the expo will be seen as an exciting opportunity to strengthen the partnership in our two communities," Mrs Wallis said.
A special guest at the reception was acclaimed director Johnnie To, who had two films in the Festival - "Breaking News" and "Running on Karma".
"Johnnie has twice won Best Director in the Hong Kong Film Awards and the Hong Kong Golden Bauhinia Awards, and Most Recommended Director in the Hong Kong Film Directors' Guild Awards. He was also a three-time winner of the award of Best Director by the Hong Kong Film Critics Society. I am sure Johnnie has much to share with his Aussie counterparts," Mrs Wallis said.
She said she believed that Melbourne audiences had a treat in store with this year's batch of Hong Kong films.
"There's action, drama, plenty of laughter and intrigue, some scary moments of horror. And, of course, the tribute to the great Chang Cheh, a truly international film icon who has influenced such movie luminaries as John Woo, Quentin Tarantino and Peter Jackson," she said.
"Altogether, I believe there is much to entertain, amuse and even inspire among this year's films."
Films featured in the "Hong Kong Cinema" segment this year include "Infernal Affairs II", "Infernal Affairs III", "Men Suddenly in Black", "The Eye", "Darkness Bride" and seven films directed by the late Chang Cheh - "The Magnificent Trio", "One-armed Swordsman", "Golden Swallow", "The Heroic Ones", "Vengeance", "The Blood Brothers" and "The Five Venoms".
Other speakers at the reception included Mr Bruce Mildenhall, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier of Victoria and Mr James Hewison, Executive Director of the Melbourne International Film Festival.
Ends/Friday, July 23, 2004