×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hong Kong’s Documentary Film Production Is on the Increase

Hong Kong filmmaker Chan Tze-woon recently returned from a fruitful trip to the Busan Intl. Film Festival. The 31-year-old’s new project, “Blue Island,” was selected to take part in the Asian Cinema Fund during the festival, where he met producers from South Korea and the U.S. and film fest directors who might be interested in the project, a documentary.

“Blue Island” is a trip down memory lane of Hong Kong through the stories of three men and an account of how their experiences of historical events, including the 1967 riots, the Cultural Revolution in mainland China and the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, have shaped their destinies. Chan’s project was awarded $5,000 under the fund’s Asian Network of Documentary Fund.

It was another milestone for the young filmmaker, whose “Yellowing” (2016), a documentary about Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, won the New Asian Currents Ogawa Shinsuke Prize at the 15th Yamagata Intl. Documentary Film Festival in Japan last year. It was also nominated for best doc at the 53rd Golden Horse Film Festival in 2016.

Other filmmakers have also drawn international attention. Last year, the Asian Network of Documentary Fund selected two projects from Hong Kong: “Comrade on the Road” by Wan Fai, also centered on the Umbrella protests, and Angie Chen’s “I’ve Got the Blues.” Docs were never mainstream in Hong Kong, but the international attention bestowed on these projects has boosted filmmakers’ confidence in their future. “Positive responses from overseas show that the world still cares about Hong Kong, boosting our chances to have our films shown at international film festivals,” says Chan.

More training for young documentarians is available in Hong Kong. Visible Record, which organizes the annual Chinese Documentary Film Festival, offers courses, and The Hong Kong Documentary Initiative, led by Oscar-winning filmmaker Ruby Yang, offers screenings, classes and seed grants to projects. Last year, Chan’s “Blue Island” was awarded a production grant of nearly $20,000.

The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts is also planning to strengthen training of documentary filmmaking. Geoffrey Stitt, dean of the academy’s School of Film and Television, says students have demonstrated potential in this category, such as 2013’s “Boundless,” a documentary that APA student Ferris Lin made as his MFA thesis project. The school has started courses to encourage students to experiment with new forms.

However, says Chan, distribution could be a major obstacle to the success of Hong Kong docs, since commercial theatrical exhibition for such films isn’t easy. Filmmakers have to be more creative and look into distribution windows outside of traditional theatrical release, he adds.

In addition to film festival circuits, streaming platforms such as Netflix could be a possible option. For example, the documentary “Road Not Taken,” which also centers on the Umbrella protests, is available for rental on Vimeo.

(Pictured above: “Yellowing,” Chan Tze-woon’s 2014 documentary on Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement)

More Biz

  • Phil McIntyre Steps Down as Roc

    Phil McIntyre Steps Down From Roc Nation Management, but Remains Affiliated With Company

    Phil McIntyre has stepped down as president of Roc Nation Management, but his PhilyMack management company remains affiliated with Roc, a source close to the situation tells Variety. PhilyMack, which McIntyre founded in 2006, partnered with Roc Nation in 2015. The source stressed that McIntyre’s role at Roc Nation Management  — whose clients include Rihanna, [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein Trial

    Ben Brafman Drops Out of Harvey Weinstein Rape Case

    Harvey Weinstein has officially parted ways with defense attorney Ben Brafman, releasing a joint statement Thursday announcing the move. Weinstein had clashed with his defense attorney over strategy in his rape and sexual assault case. The pair issued a statement saying their parting was amicable, and that Brafman would cooperate fully with Weinstein’s new attorneys. [...]

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Turns in Record Q4 Subscriber Gain, Price Increase Weighs on U.S. Forecast

    Netflix is beating Wall Street expectations for international subscriber growth — but its recently announced price increase in the U.S. may have put a damper on its momentum in the States. For the fourth quarter of 2018, Netflix reported 1.53 million paid net adds in the U.S. and 7.31 million internationally, to end the year [...]

  • Heather Parry Live Nation

    Live Nation Investigation of Heather Parry Also Targets Leakers (EXCLUSIVE)

    Over the past two weeks, the law firm of Paul Hastings LLP has been probing allegations reported by Variety last month that Heather Parry, the head of Live Nation Productions, had verbally abused employees and used offensive language in the workplace. But the lead investigator, Elena Baca, seems to be just as interested in uncovering [...]

  • Leslie Moonves

    Leslie Moonves to Pursue Arbitration for His $120 Million Severance From CBS

    Former CBS Corp. chairman-CEO Leslie Moonves will pursue an arbitration claim to fight CBS for the $120 million severance that he was denied last month when the company’s board of directors determined he was fired for cause. Moonves was ousted in September after multiple women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the longtime [...]

  • A view of the SK Telecom

    Korean OTT Players, SK Telecom Join Forces to Compete Against Netflix

    South Korea’s three major broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS have joined forces with the country’s leading telecom firm, SK Telecom, to launch a new video streaming platform. The move is regarded as a defensive reaction against the growing influence of foreign competitors, lead by Netflix. The broadcasters already jointly own Pooq, with MBC and SBS [...]

  • David Lubliner Moves to UTA From

    Veteran WME Agent David Lubliner to Join UTA

    William Morris Endeavor agent David Lubliner is departing the company for a post at United Talent Agency, individuals familiar with the move told Variety. The parting of ways was amicable, the insiders added. Lubliner was a veteran in WME’s motion picture literary department. Rumors of his exit had been floating since Hollywood reopened for the new [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content