Speech by FS at "Stephen Chow: The King of Comedy" retrospective at Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York (English only) (with photo)

     Following is the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at the "Stephen Chow: The King of Comedy" retrospective at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York today (October 6, Eastern Standard Time):

Ms (Karen) Hopkins, Mr (Steve) Barclay, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good evening.

     I am happy to be here tonight. I am particularly delighted to hear so many nice things being said about Hong Kong.

     Thanks to Stephen Chow, of course. And I wish to congratulate Stephen on his international success, and on the honour, so richly deserved honour, of having his first US retrospective, right here in New York, at the prestigious Brooklyn Academy of Music.

     I owe a lot to Stephen Chow. Really. Everything I ever learned about soccer, about gambling, about demon hunting, about talking trash and about other random topics of interest, I learned from Stephen and his movies.

     In Hong Kong, we call Stephen's cinematic style mo lei tau. It is a Cantonese term that means nonsensical, mindless, silly talk. According to Wiki, that infinite source of wisdom and knowledge, mo lei tau is a form of nonsensical humour that makes sense. It constitutes a complex interplay of cultural subtleties that are significant in Hong Kong, nonsensical parodies, juxtaposition of contrasts, sudden surprises in spoken dialogue and action, and improbable and deliberate anachronisms. However you describe it, a Stephen Chow movie makes "nonsense" unforgettable.

     I wish he would give some thought to directing an entirely new genre - perhaps a feature-length movie about government. And how to make it work as effortlessly, and entertainingly, as he does his many movies.

     In such a venture, Stephen would have no shortage of local creative help. Over the past decade, Hong Kong movies have gained widespread acclaim, winning more than 300 international awards.

     While Hong Kong may count just over 7 million people, we have been notably blessed with movie industry talent - from kung fu stars such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen to international actors like Maggie Cheung, Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-fat.

     And let's not forget such acclaimed directors as John Woo, Wong Kar-wai and Peter Chan. Or the likes of Christopher Doyle, the cinematographer, and William Chang Suk-ping, the costume designer.

     As for movie production, CEPA, Hong Kong's free trade agreement with Mainland China, can help. This groundbreaking arrangement has vastly expanded Hong Kong's access to the Mainland's fast-growing movie market. Since the inception of CEPA in 2003, the number of Hong Kong-Mainland co-productions has grown to an average of 30 movie titles a year - many enjoying major successes at the box office.

     Last year alone, five of the top 10 Chinese-language films shown in the Mainland were Hong Kong-Mainland co-productions. This is significant as far as the box office is concerned because, by gaining the license to show the movies on the Mainland, the audience coverage would increase from 7 million to 1.4 billion.

     No less important, CEPA is nationality-neutral, meaning that overseas film companies incorporated in Hong Kong enjoy the same benefits as local filmmakers in reaching Mainland movie lovers.

     There are, to be sure, wonderful reasons to be showing the movies of Stephen Chow, and other Hong Kong cinema stars as well, in the United States.

     And for that, I am grateful to our Economic and Trade Office in New York and the Brooklyn Academy of Music's repertory film programme, BAMcinématek, for making this evening - this week-long Stephen Chow retrospective - a reality. And also for bringing the brilliance of a piece of Hong Kong, the brilliance of Stephen Chow, to New York.

     Thank you.

Ends/Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Issued at HKT 11:04