Returning hyphenate plans ambitious pic mix

HONG KONG — This year producer, critic, curator and scribe Roger Garcia will return to the helm of the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society (HKIFFS) and the multihyphenate will handle the group’s three main events: the Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF), Asian Film Awards (AFA), and the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF). It’s a role he’s clearly relishing.

“We are an international film festival, our theme is international.

“And this year, our over-arching theme is ‘Let’s Meet Here’ — a festival is a reason to bring people and films together, people meet each other and they also “meet” films,” he said.

“My plans are to hold a steady course for this machine of many moving parts that we call a film festival. We have a program that generally appeals to and attracts a devoted following in Hong Kong, and also is followed internationally. Our mix of the past, present and trending movements continues,” said Garcia.

The Hong Kong-born Garcia’s has impeccable cinematic credentials in his hometown. He was director of the HKIFF soon after it began in the late 1970s when he consolidated its programming of contemporary and classic Hong Kong cinema and developed its bilingual publications that helped introduce Hong Kong cinema to the world.

Garcia also pioneered the HKIFF’s specific focus on Asian cinema that became a model for many fests. He has been a HKIFF and AFA jury member, an adviser to HAF and a HKIFF program consultant.

The fest has a tradition of pioneering Asian cinema, particularly on the auteur and independent side, and also highlighting filmmakers who may have been neglected or passed over in the film canon, he said. So this year the fest will aim to achieve a mix of populist and art-house, cutting edge and established.

“Actually for me it’s all cinema — I don’t in my own mind make exclusive barriers between different categories of films because I believe every film has something to say about the vocabulary of cinema,” he said.

As a producer, Garcia has worked on both studio pictures and indie films, while as a critic, the Hong Kong-born Garcia’s work has appeared in Variety, as well as in Asiaweek, British Film Institute, Cahiers du Cinema, Far East Economic Review and Film Comment.

He has also lectured at Stanford University and U. of California, Berkeley on Asian cinema and was the first director of the Filmmakers’ Development Lab for the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) from 2005-2008.

Garcia’s expectations for Filmart are that it will continue to attract auds, encouraging and nurturing the cinematic experience.

“Seeing films you may have read about, but also discovering films that you never knew, whether from the present or the past. Of course I don’t only want to expand our audience but I also want to expand their cinematic horizons,” he said.

Film fests have changed dramatically over the years of Garcia’s involvement with HKIFF — there are 100 times more pics now, he said.

“While the world of film festivals may be more competitive, we still continue with choosing the films that we believe reflect the continuum of cinema, the ruptures and innovations of film language, the engagement with history, society and the audience, the changing nature of the industry and so forth,” he said.

More from Filmart at 15:
H.K.’s Filmart gets Beijing accent | Garcia back at H.K. fest helm | 3D’s future eyed in Asia

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