Fewer sponsors means fewer pics

This article was corrected on March 1, 2005.

HONG KONG — The Hong Kong Film Festival is slimming down this year, cutting back from its 300-plus pics in 2004 to 240 films from 41 countries for the March 22-April 6 edish.

“We’re experimenting with figures this year,” said fest exec director Peter Tsi.

There are a few reasons for the lower number.

One is because the 29th fest has less sponsorship cash this year. In addition, the event wasn’t able to commit to higher numbers of pics early on because the main sponsor, Sony, came in toward the end.

The fest also researched how the number of films affected attendance. The 26th fest with 160 films attracted 70,000 people. In following years the number of films rose to 300, but attendance only went up to 80,000.

“We want to see if 200-something films is the optimum number, Tsi said.

This year “Peacock,” helmed by Gu Changwei from China, and “The Hidden Blade,” helmed by Yamada Yoji from Japan will open the fest.

A digitally restored director’s cut of “Center Stage,” helmed by Stanley Kwan in 1992 and starring Maggie Cheung, will be screened as part of a celebration of 100 years of Chinese filmmaking.

Other highlights include a multimedia exhibition organized by cinematographer Christopher Doyle, who also designed the poster for the fest; screenings and seminars celebrating Andy Lau, the fest’s Actor in Focus; various outdoor screenings, kicked off by “Kung Fu Hustle” and Bruce Lee’s “Fist of Fury”; and a short-film competition themed “The Pure Alternative.”

The fest runs as part of Entertainment Expo.

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