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Hong Kong Film Festival Postponed Due to COVID for Second Time in Three Years

Hong Kong skyline
Courtesy of Celestial Tiger Entertainment

The Hong Kong International Film Festival, scheduled to have taken place from the end of March, has been postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Organizers also canceled remaining screenings in the Cine Fan community outreach program.

This decision follows the Hong Kong government’s moves earlier this week to extend social distancing measures until April 20, 2022. Cinemas throughout the territory have been closed on government order since Jan. 7.

The 12-day 46th edition of HKIFF had been set for March 31- April 11. Organizers will aim to reschedule the festival and Cine Fan screenings to a date later this year.

Sources close to the festival organizers told Variety that the prior to the government announcement, they had succeeded in locking in 90% of the program.

The FilMart rights market and Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF), which also normally operate in March, had both long ago opted for an online-only format for 2022. FilMart will run March 14-17.

The HKIFF cancelation is the second time in three years that the pandemic has forced to the festival to cancel its scheduled March event. In 2021, when Hong Kong had very low levels of local coronavirus transmission, the festival was able to go ahead as a hybrid with 190 films presented at online and in-person screenings, albeit with few foreign visitors.

In pursuit of a so-called dynamic zero-COVID policy, the territory has largely self-isolated behind tough border restrictions and prolonged quarantine periods. And it had largely succeeded in taming earlier waves of the disease.

But, since the beginning of this year, the omicron variant of the disease was able to overcome these barriers and has sparked by far the territory’s most severe disease conditions, threatening the lives of many senior citizens who have been reluctant to be vaccinated.

The city government on Tuesday dialed up its measures to defeat the virus, ordering three mandatory PCR tests for all residents from March, the extension of social distancing measures, school closures and confirmation of its planned vaccine pass system.