Distinguished film writer and director, Mabel Cheung Yuen-ting has joined the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society as its vice chairperson. She takes over from Johnnie To, who had held the post for the five years since 2014.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for me to become further engaged in the promotion of film culture and, specifically, the appreciation of Asian and Chinese language cinema,” said Cheung in a prepared statement.

Cheung has directed films including An Autumn’s Tale (1987), Eight Taels of Gold (1989), The Soong Sisters (1997), and City of Glass (1998). She also produced the 2010 smash hit portrait of Hong Kong, “Echoes of the Rainbow,” which was directed by her husband Alex Law.

She is currently also president of the Hong Kong Film Directors’ Guild and a guest lecturer of the Hong Kong Baptist University’s Academy of Film. Previously, Cheung also served as a member of the Hong Kong Film Development Council. She sat on the juries of the London and Zurich film festivals.

“Her wealth of experience would be invaluable to the Society. With her support, we could further our mission of uniting the world through films and consolidating our status as one of the oldest and best-loved film festivals in Asia,” said HKIFFS chairman Wilfred Wong.

The festival, now under the artistic direction of Albert Lee, is facing a series of transitions. While the dates of this year’s 44th edition – March 24 to April 6, 2020 – still coincide with trade show and market Hong Kong FilMart (March 25-28, 2020) that may not be the case in 2021. This year’s festival does not benefit from proximity to the Asian Film Awards. Although the HKIFFS is still a co-organizer of the AFAs, the awards will shift to the autumn and relocate to South Kore and the Busan festival.

One of the biggest question marks for the Hong Kong festival remains the impact of social and political events in the territory which has been marked by unrest since June 2019. Organizers of both the festival and FilMart are confident of being able to manage the logistics and host the events relatively normally. But the effect of the troubles on audiences, access to venues and whether overseas film talent will travel to the territory in support of selected films, is harder to gauge. Recently-published data showed that, despite the civil strife, Hong Kong box office was down only 2% in 2019.