Films from Hong Kong Prominently Featured at 45th Annual Chicago International Film Festival

Four Hong Kong films, including the epic drama “Red Cliff,” will be presented at this year’s 45th Chicago International Film Festival, the oldest in North America and the second largest in scale in the U.S., just next to Hollywood.

This year’s festival features a selection of 145 films, shorts and documentaries from 45 countries.

Hong Kong, with four movies, is among the territories with one of the highest number of entries at the festival. The host country – United States – has 14 films featured at this year’s festival.

Renowned Hong Kong film director, Mr John Woo, was in Chicago to attend the special screening and US premiere of his epic drama “Red Cliff” at the festival on yesterday (Oct. 9, New York time).

Welcoming the director at a pre-screening reception held in the director’s honour and attended by some 80 guests, comprising of Chicago government officials, business executives, academia, and the media, Director of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, New York (HKETONY), Ms Monica Chen, said Mr Woo’s achievements “epitomize the creativity and entrepreneurships of Hong Kong and its film talents.

It is because of talents like Director Woo that Hong Kong’s film industry continues to thrive.” “This year, we celebrate 100 years of Hong Kong cinema. We are proud to be one of the major film production centers and film exporters in the world. The film industry is an important economic driver for Hong Kong.

We have around 32,000 creative industry-related establishments, engaging more than 170,000 practitioners and creating an added value to Hong Kong’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of more than US$7.69 billion annually, or around 4% of the GDP.

“Hong Kong movies, ranging from crime thrillers to martial arts epics to art-house films, have made great strides over the last 100 years – with many of our actors, directors, producers and cinematographers winning accolades and garnering worldwide recognition,” said Ms Chen.

Ms Chen noted that Hong Kong is also nurturing the next generation of film makers and others in the creative industry.

To this end, the Hong Kong SAR Government set up a dedicated agency – Create Hong Kong – which is tasked with promoting Hong Kong as Asia’s creative hub and to facilitate start-up and to nurture a pool of creative human capital.

As part of its responsibility, Create Hong Kong provides support to the film industry, including facilitating film productions in Hong Kong, promoting Hong Kong films locally and overseas, and providing financial support for film industry projects, including film productions.

It is also tasked with facilitating the development of the digital entertainment industry.

Welcoming over 300 people to the sold-out “Red Cliff” screening, Ms Chen, said, “The hard work and talent of Director Woo, together with that of the many Hong Kong actors, directors, producers, and cinematographers have propelled Hong Kong films to international recognition and acclaim.

In the past ten years alone, Hong Kong film talents have won over 300 international awards. The success of these Hong Kong films, ranging from crime thrillers to martial arts epics to art-house films, exemplifies the creative spirit and imaginative expression of the unique “East meets West” culture that distinguishes Hong Kong as Asia’s world city.

“With an invaluable pool of film talents, rich experience in film production, and a unique shooting style that fascinates worldwide audience, we are confident that Hong Kong films will continue to set new standards in the next 100 years,” said Ms Chen.

Ms Chen pointed out that riding on China’s huge economic growth, Hong Kong was leveraging on its close integration with the Chinese Mainland and that Hong Kong had been witnessing a rapid growth of Mainland-Hong Kongco-productions, with tremendous box office success.

“These successful collaborative partnerships point to the pivotal role of Hong Kong to facilitate film companies to the Chinese market,” Ms Chen added.

HKETONY is a cultural support partner of the 45th Chicago International Film Festival. Aside from “Red Cliff”, the other three Hong Kong films featured in this year’s festival include “Claustrophobia”, “Plastic City” and “Astro Boy”.

The festival runs from Oct. 8 to 22.

Hong Kong films are also well represented at the 5th Atlanta Asian Film Festival held from October 9 to 17.Of the 10 films from 9 territories in Asia featured in the Festival, Hong Kong alone has two films – “The Drummer” by Kenneth Bi and “The Pye-Dog” by Derek Kwok – more than any other territories.

Speaking at the “Taste of Asia” banquet to open the Festival on Oct. 9, Ms Louisa Yan, Deputy Director (General) of HKETONY, also spoke of the Hong Kong Government’s effort to nurture the new generation of filmmakers.

New talents keep emerging in the vibrant Hong Kong film scene.

The two films presented in the Festival – ‘The Drummer’ by Kenneth Bi and ‘The Pye-Dog’ by Derek Kwok, represent the new generation of filmmakers that push the artistic achievement of Hong Kong cinema even further,” said Ms Yan.

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