Following is the speech (English only) by the HKSAR Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Donald Tsang, at the Opening of the Hong Kong Film Evening at the Irish Film Institute, Dublin, on November 1, 2004 (Irish time):
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here this evening for this special screening of what I am sure you will find is a wonderful Hong Kong movie -- a production that highlights the talents of our younger generation of directors. And I would like to thank the Irish Film Institute for its support in making this screening possible.
I find it most appropriate that we are showing Carol Lai's "The Floating Landscape" here in Ireland, which has a great reputation not just for making good films, but for the magnificent locations, or landscapes, you have for film-makers to use as the backdrops to their stories. The scenery, from the lush green hills to the dramatic cliff-top coastline and the quaint country villages, must be a director's dream; and no doubt helps to fuel the Irish film industry along with the undoubted talents of your directors and actors like Peter O'Toole, Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan and rising star Cillian Murphy.
The history of cinema in Hong Kong dates back over a century. It has released thousands of movies, mostly Cantonese action films in the Asian market, keeping audiences delighted with their quirky tales of the times. Hong Kong started to come into its own in the early 1970s with its trademark kung fu genre that swept the world. This led to the rise of Bruce Lee, who even today still has a cult-like following, more than 30 years after his death. The newer generations of Hong Kong's creative talent -- the directors, actors and producers -- are also becoming global household names with stars like Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-fat and Maggie Cheung. And directors like John Woo, Wong Kar-wai and, of course, Carol Lai are winning acclaim for their unique style, incisive direction and sometimes off-beat story lines.
Like the Irish government with its incentives, the Hong Kong Government is also playing its part, behind the scenes, to encourage the development of our industry through the Film Services Office, which is streamlining procedures for shooting. We're promoting "Hong Kong on location" as a film centre with the facilities, expertise and support for every movie occasion; and we've established the Film Guarantee Fund to facilitate development of a film financing infrastructure. These measures, together with the efforts of the industry itself, have helped to revitalise the movie business.
But above all, our industry grows on the strength of Hong Kong's creative talents. And I'm sure you will agree with me after you have seen tonight's screening of "The Floating Landscape". It was a competitive entry in the 2003 Venice Film Festival and is Carol Lai's new feature film after "The Glass Tears", which was shown in the 2001 Cannes film festival. The film is also a sample of what is to come in next year's "Hong Kong Film Panorama", which will feature a selection of the latest Hong Kong films to be shown at the Irish Film Institute in 2005.
So, please enjoy.
Ends/Tuesday, November 2, 2004