Finance secretary John Tsang said Wednesday that he will provide an additional HK$20 million (US2.6 million) via the Film Development Fund for the distribution and publicity of Hong Kong-produced Cantonese language films in mainland China. The Pearl River Delta area boasts over 100 million Cantonese speakers and has box office revenue of over RMB4 billion (US$610 million.)
Tsang said that the measure “will assist the film industry in leveraging the enhanced measures under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA).”
The funding is in addition to the HK$200 million ((US$25.8 million) of top-up cash that Tsang provided last year to the FDF. He said that last year’s injection had been used to relaunch the First Feature Film Initiative.
Hong Kong last year produced 59 movies, up from 52 in 2014. But their share of the local market slipped from 22% to 19.4%%.
By promoting Cantonese-language cinema, Tsang may be inadvertently fuelling the ongoing row about local Hong Kong identity and the independent film “10 Years,” a bleak fantasy which imagines the city under ever growing mainland control. The inclusion of the film among the nominees for best picture in the Hong Kong Film Awards appears to be the reason that mainland broadcasters have dropped their planned broadcast of the annual awards show.
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“10 Years” did not receive funding from the FDF.