Tsang unveils plans to create film development board

Hong Kong’s ailing film industry got a double boost from the government this week thanks to an extra HK$20 million ($2.6 million) in film coin and plans to create a film development board.

The territory’s new chief executive, Donald Tsang, unveiled plans to create the film development board during his first policy address on Wednesday.

Calling the film industry “a flagship of our creative industries,” Tsang said the board will review its present state as well as opportunities and challenges before taking action.

An emergency task force created in November in response to growing piracy and a struggling industry has been in contact with the government while urging it to create a more proactive board, said Nansun Shi, a veteran producer and senior adviser for Mandarin Entertainment.

“We’re pleased to see the government has decided to upgrade the committee we have now,” Shi said.

The government announcement comes on the heels of a written request sent two weeks ago by the emergency task force asking the government to set up a film development committee.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Legislative Council agreed to set aside $2.6 million to revive the Film Development Fund.

Applications will be accepted three times a year. The current batch is due Nov. 30.

The fund was active between April 1999 and 2004. During that time, more than $6.2 million was distributed to 72 projects, which ranged from seminars to training programs and sponsoring films to attend festivals.

Pics can also tap the Film Guarantee Fund, which was launched in 2003.

The fund gives films 35% of a production budget or $336,500, whichever is less.

The most recent film to receive coin from the Film Guarantee Fund is Mandarin Films’ “Dragon Tiger Gate,” which recently started shooting in Hengdian, China.

The $10 million pic, based on a Hong Kong manga about three heroes, is the first collaboration between Mandarin Films Distribution and Beijing Polybona Film Publishing Co.

Citic Ka Wah Bank provided a loan of $673,077 for the project and the Film Guarantee Fund will guarantee half the loan.

“Dragon Tiger Gate” is the ninth project to receive a guarantee since the fund was set up.

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