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SCED speaks at "China Night: Celebration of 100 Years of Hong Kong Cinema" reception in Cannes (English only) (with photos)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mrs Rita Lau, at the "China Night: Celebration of 100 Years of Hong Kong Cinema" reception at the Marche du Film and Festival de Cannes in Cannes, France, on May 16 (Cannes time):

Mr Yuan, Chairman So, members of the Hong Kong Film Development Council, and friends of the film industry from all over the world,

     It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to join us on the French Riviera to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Hong Kong films. I want to start with an apology: Anyone who expected to see Chinese roast duck on the menu tonight will be disappointed... The reason is linked to our celebrations this evening. The very first Hong Kong film produced in 1909 was entitled "Stealing the Roast Duck". It should come as no surprise to any of you who have been to Hong Kong that our first film involved food. We are not known as the culinary capital of Asia for no reason!

     Although the Hong Kong film industry started in 1909, its full scale development came in the 1950s when the industry became an important economic driver for Hong Kong. Hong Kong films not only flourished in Asia at that time, they were also well received worldwide.

     Over the past few decades, Hong Kong films have gained considerable international recognition. Many Hong Kong actors, directors, cinematographers and producers have become household names. They have won acclaim for their unique style, incisive direction and creative story lines. As a measure of this, in the past 10 years alone, Hong Kong movies and film talent have won over 300 international awards.

     We are proud to be one of the major film production centres and film exporters in the world. Something we are working hard to sustain. With China's economic growth in 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.

     The Mainland-Hong Kong co-productions have enjoyed tremendous box office success. For example, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", a popular co-produced film, had a box office of US$45 million worldwide. In the past three years, seven to nine titles of the top 10 Chinese-language films of Mainland China were co-productions involving Hong Kong filmmakers. The box office of the top Chinese-language movie in China in 2008, "If You Are The One", which is a Mainland-Hong Kong co-production, was US$46.2 million in China.

     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.

     With an invaluable pool of film talent, rich experience in film production and a unique shooting style that fascinates worldwide audiences, we are confident that Hong Kong films will continue to set new standards in the next 100 years. At the start of this evening, we showed a short film entitled "Hong Kong Films - Dreams from our heart!" Seeing the range and variety of films on display I feel confident when I say that we welcome anyone who wants to share our dreams and enjoy the excitement that is Hong Kong, Asia's World City.

Ends/Sunday, May 17, 2009
Issued at HKT 09:00


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