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Friday, April 8, 2016, 12:48

'Ten Years may have a negative impact'

By Shadow Li

'Ten Years may have a negative impact'
A file photograph from March 2013 of Crucindo Hung Cho-sing, chairman of the Hong Kong Motion Picture Industry Association. (Edmond Tang / China Daily)

HONG KONG - To some people, Ten Years winning Best Picture of the 35th Hong Kong Film Awards might be just a short-lived dinner party conversation. But for Crucindo Hung Cho-sing, chairman of the Hong Kong Motion Picture Industry Association (MPIA), it is like seeing his baby and efforts of a lifetime being destroyed in one go.

Hung, who was chairman of the film festival for five years back in the 1980s, expressed his disappointment and anger in an exclusive interview with China Daily on Thursday. He said he feared that the debacle of Ten Years’ triumph – considered the best movie Hong Kong has made for the past year – could destroy the industry.

The veteran movie industry practitioner said he would propose an overhaul of the rating system of the festival to stop it being rigged.

In fact, Hung said, the low-budget movie – let alone its bold political stance – fell short of all expectations of what a Best Picture winner should be.

Ten Years beat four other candidates in the competition. This included the winner of seven awards Port of Call, a crime thriller movie starring Aaron Kwok Fu-shing, and double award winner The Taking of Tiger Mountain. Ten Years, with its sole nomination for Best Picture, secured the top prize at the best-recognized Chinese film festival in the region.

A Best Picture is supposed to present a high level of production in every aspect of movie making, including acting, action, sound, screenplay, editing and so on. But Ten Years, made up of five segments depicting a bleak future for Hong Kong in 10 years’ time, received no other nominations. However, it still bested Port of Call, which had 13 nominations and seven awards, noted Hung.

"It was unfair to the other candidates, as Best Picture is just a title, without other content to back it up. I don’t see why it won the honor. I have never seen a movie with no other nominations win the best film in any of the international film festivals in my life,” said Hung, who has been in the industry for more than 40 years.

Hung said the film festival, initiated by a film magazine in 1982, was unable to continue operating in its fifth year due to lack of recognition. The MPIA picked it up in 1987 and has almost built its success from scratch.

"At first, we didn’t have the money and a venue to host the festival as the British colonial government was unwilling to support the event,” Hung said. He added they could not even come up with money for the cocktail reception.

"We have built it from a time when not a single television or radio station wanted to broadcast it to when they fight for the right to live-broadcast it and it have started to make money,” Hung said. “That took us 10 years.”

Since then, the movie festival has started to garner attention with its growing influence in the region. The association then handed management of the festival over to the industry in 1993 by setting up the Hong Kong Film Awards Association (HKFAA), a non-profit group comprising 13 professional film bodies including the MPIA, the Hong Kong Film Directors’ Guild and the Hong Kong Theatres Association.

The success of the low-budget movie has drawn heavy criticism from movie industry heavyweights, including media mogul and Chairman of the Media Asia Group Peter Lam kin-ngok, who called it a misfortune for Hong Kong’s movie sector as it was the result of politics holding the film festival hostage.

Hung, on the other hand, said even if Ten Years had not been awarded the prize for best movie, the film festival would still be mired in a peculiar atmosphere where everything was politicized. Speculation might also have developed that it was sidelined owing to its political stance.

Hung said that currently the judges for the film festival are invited by a small group of people inside the HKFAA. It is not an open and transparent selection. The rating system consists of two rounds. The second round involves 55 invited judges and some 1,000 registered voters from the industry, whose votes make up 55 percent and 45 percent, respectively.

Hung said even if more than 1,000 voters rejected Ten Years, the film could still win as the 55 invited judges have a bigger say in the voting.

Calling the mechanism unfair, Hung suggested the judges, upon invitation, should be chosen based on the nomination by the 13 groups in the HKFAA.

Hung stressed that his comments were not about the movie’s radical political stance but based on a pure analysis for art’s sake. Ten Years being named Best Picture might also bring a negative message to those who wish to join the industry that making such a movie is what it takes to win an award, Hung said.

In fact, the movie’s triumph would be short-lived as its so-called success at the box office relied largely on its controversy and people’s curiosity, Hung added. He expected that the movie would not gain much success overseas.

Convinced that copycats would emerge, Hung said these followers would not be able to repeat Ten Years’ “success” as it was not a real success in the art of filmmaking, but rather an exercise in political point scoring earned via controversy.

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