AFM: Hong Kong Offers Key Gateway to China

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Hong Kong

Mainland Chinese opportunities have led to a filmmaking exodus, but the territory is thriving as a shooting destination.

Mainland China's industry is hogging the limelight, but Hong Kong is the most efficient gateway into the booming market north of the border, industryites from the territory said Thursday during an AFM panel discussion.

The number of local productions in Hong Kong has fallen as directors and producers turn their attention to the world's second-largest film market in China.

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Independent filmmaker Maria Lo Orzel spoke of how almost all Hong Kong filmmakers are working with China.

"Going from 300 to 50 films a year shows that most of the local filmmakers have moved north, but they will mostly come to Hong Kong to help start their projects.

"We cannot survive without China," she told the gathering.

Film productions from Hong Kong can take advantage of CEPA (Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement), which affords them special status.

Hong Kong also is proving itself to be a popular location. Recent projects that shot there include Transformers: Age of Extinction, Cyber, Pacific Rim and Fast & Furious 6.

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Against this backdrop, it is hardly surprising that one of the most eagerly listened to figures on the panel was Zhou Tiedong, president of China Film Promotion International.

"Hong Kong has been acting as a major production force -- Hong Kong filmmakers made the only Chinese genre that can travel internationally: the kung fu movie. It is a better way to go through Hong Kong filmmakers," said Zhou.

He said a ratings system would probably happen in China, but only if the market wants it. "The audience is always right," he joked.

Panelist Jeffrey Chan, COO of Bona Film Group, said Hong Kong still has plenty to offer that China does not.

"I rarely find people who don't like Hong Kong; it's a base camp. It's efficient, it's quick to set up a company, it was under British rule so it has common law. The Chinese yuan is not an internationally convertible currency," he said.