So to chair new Hong Kong film council

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HONG KONG -- Jack So, former group managing director at telecommunications powerhouse PCCW, will chair the newly formed Hong Kong Film Development Council, the Hong Kong SAR government announced Saturday on the eve of Sunday night's Hong Kong Film Awards.

The HKFDC, which will serve as an advisory body to the government's Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau on film policy, consists of 19 members, including 16 from the private sector, five more than sat on its predecessor, the Film Development Committee (also chaired by So).

The new council's membership includes Wong Ying-wai, chairman of the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society; veteran film critic Wong Chi-keung; helmer and Hong Kong Film Directors' Guild president Gordan Chan; Mabel Cheung, a prominent Hong Kong film director; and Ng See-yuen, chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Filmmakers.

The addition of these five new members appears to be in response to the local industry's outcry against previous appointees for the Film Development Committee, which was dominated by investors and lacked voices from the creative side of the industry.

All existing members of the Film Development Committee will remain on the board. Their terms run through March 31, 2009. These include film producer Nansun Shi, Hong Kong Chamber of Films chairman Peter Lam and veteran producer Bill Kong ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon").

The Hong Kong government recently announced an increased commitment of HK$300 million ($38.4 million) to the Film Development Fund. It will be one of the HKFDC's tasks to advise on the deployment of the fund, along with other measures designed to strengthen the local film industry, which has been in free-fall since its peak in the late '80s/early '90s.
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