China speaks Hong Kong’s language

For now, pics will screen only in Guangdong

China has eased distribution regulations, allowing Hong Kong films to enter the mainland in the original Cantonese, as well as the mandatory dubbed Mandarin version.

For the moment, the pics will screen only in the southern Cantonese-speaking province of Guangdong.

“Two versions are good,” said Crucindo Hung, chairman of the Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories Motion Picture Industry Assn., “because this means more people in the South will go to see movies in their native Cantonese.”

Following talks with Chinese officials, Hung thinks it’s unlikely that films in the two languages will have to pass the censors twice.

Beginning Jan. 1, Hong Kong companies also will be able to own, build and operate more than one cinema in different locations in China without a local partner, relaxing the present restriction.

Hong Kong companies also can open a wholly owned company in China to help distribution, Hung said.

Local films will bypass China’s foreign film cap of 20 films a year if the pic is 50%-owned by a Hong Kong company and employs a majority of local staff. New reg loosens the previous rule that a film be 100% local or a China co-production to be considered a Chinese release.

The government also appointed 11 members for its new Film Development Committee. Eight are part of the industry, three nonindustry.

The first meeting will be held in early November, said Hung, who is a committee member.

Other industry members are Edko’s Bill Kong; Nansun Shi, exec director of Film Workshop; Chan Wing-mei, director of Newport Entertainment; Terry Lai, CEO of Intercontinental; Peter Lam, chairman of the Hong Kong Chamber of Films; John Sham, exec secretary of the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers; and Raymond Wong, chairman of the Movie Producers and Distributors Assn. of Hong Kong.

Nonindustry members are deputy chairman and group managing director of PCCW Jack So, who is the committee’s chairman; Felix Fong Wo, a solicitor; and Suen Kwok-lam, exec director of Henderson Land Development.

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