The Hong Kong International Film Festival will shift to new dates in August, having been postponed earlier this year due to the COVID pandemic.
The 46th edition of the festival will take place Aug. 15-31, 2022, at multiple venues across the territory. Like last year’s HKIFF45, the hybrid festival will feature in-person and online screenings and events.
The annual spin-off event, Cine Fan Summer International Film Festival, which usually takes place around the same time in August, will be shelved and likely return in 2023.
The main HKIFF was scheduled to have started on March 31. But the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus sparked a fifth wave of infections that, in Hong Kong’s case, were by far the most numerous and most deadly.
The city’s cinemas were closed from early January until Thursday this week and even now can only operate at reduced capacity. The territory’s theater operators have also chosen not to allow food and beverage sales, due to the strict regulations that remain in place.
The rescheduling of HKIFF to summer throws up new challengers for the festival organizers. The unavailability of certain government-owned venues, including the showcase Cultural Center in Tsim Sha Tsui, mean that other screening facilities needed to be found. This has also necessitated the extension of this year’s event to 17 days.
Similarly, while some 95% of the March film selection had been set at the time of postponement, the new dates will require some re-programming. Some of the titles originally selected will no longer be available. But the HKIFF selectors will be able to freshen up the selection with other titles that debut in Cannes or other mid-year festivals.
Some of the sidebar programming strands will be announced in the next few weeks. The full-line-up will be announced in late July, with tickets going on sale a week later.
“The last two years have been challenging for everyone because of the COVID-19 pandemic, not least for those who work in the film industry. It is important to stay positive and, with productions resuming gradually, I am seeing signs of a recovery, despite the recent setback with the Omicron outbreak,” said Kwok in a prepared statement.