Government unveils $38.5 million package

HONG KONG — The Hong Kong government Wednesday announced a HK$300 million ($38.5 million) package to help out the local movie industry.

Creating a state fund to help production was one of the recommendations made by the territory’s Film Development Committee.

“The secretary for commerce, industry and technology will consult the Film Development Council, which will shortly be established, on the operation of the fund,” Hong Kong’s financial secretary Henry Tang said in his annual budget address to the Legislative Council.

The speed of Tang’s announcement surprised the industry. Some had not expected a government commitment until after next month’s elections for the territory’s chief executive post.

However, it may have been sparked by Hong Kong’s $7 billion fiscal surplus — the highest since the territory ceased to be a British colony.

The news was welcomed in the industry, even though Tang didn’t say how the fund would be allocated, whether the measure is a one-off, or how long coin would be available.

“I hope this is the beginning of a series of strong initiatives and a determined effort by the government to grow the film industry in Hong Kong,” producer and leading lobbyist Nansun Shi said. “Achieving a turnaround will take much more than this from both the government and from the industry itself.”

Tom Cheung, VP of business development at Sundream Motion Pictures, agrees that it will take more than this to help the industry.

He said the government had offered coin over the past few years, such as the Film Guarantee Fund, but he didn’t think it had been successful in helping the industry.

Others are more positive about the promise of money and what that might mean.

“The production sector should be encouraged to make films of greater quality and bigger budgets. We have to make sure that we use this wisely. The China market is a very good opportunity for the Hong Kong industry,” Crucindo Hung, chairman of the Motion Picture Industry Assn. said. “I would also be happy to see some of this money being used to help strengthen the film industry’s defenses against Internet downloading, piracy and parallel imports.”

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