Hit by Virus Fears, Hong Kong Film Awards Look to ‘Better Days’ and a Better Date

Better Days
"Better Days"

The glitz of the annual Hong Kong Film Awards will be put to one side this year as a response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The awards’ organizing committee said that it remains important to recognize filmmakers efforts. But the awards show will shift from its scheduled mid-April slot and change its format to avoid creating a large crowd.

Nominations, announced Wednesday saw Derek Tsang’s youth drama “Better Days” recognized in 12 categories, including best film and best director. Critics’ darling, gay drama “Suk Suk,” received nine nominations, including best film and best director for Ray Yeung.

“We will decide the new format in two weeks’ time, and hope to hand our the awards in May,” Derek Yee, chairman of the Awards Association, told Variety by phone. “The production of the awards ceremony will involve more than 400 people and countless meetings. We cannot provide enough masks and hand sanitizers for our colleagues to ensure their safety. We cannot afford the risk,” said Yee.

Hong Kong’s box office has already been hit by the virus scare. It dropped by 30% during the Lunar New Year, compared to the previous year. That may drop further, as cinemas are now selling alternate rows.

The Hong Kong government has temporarily shut down government-run cultural venues and has been urging cinemas to close doors to avoid creating opportunities for mass gathering. As of February 12, 50 people in Hong Kong have been infected, and one died.

The Awards are part of the annual Entertainment Expo. So far other Expo events FilMart and the Hong Kong International Film Festival have not announced any changes to their plans. FilMart, which is set for mid-March is widely expected to postpone.