H.K. funds first two films


HONG KONG -- The Hong Kong Film Development Council has approved funding for the first two films to receive government subsidies from its $38.4 million Film Development Fund.

The two films are "Claustrophobia" and the animated tale "McDull WuDang." Each will have 30% of their production budget paid for through the FDF, with total government financing for the two projects at $692,000.

The FDF's vetting committee stressed that funding will cover all film genres, so long as they believe the film has commercial appeal.

"The two approved film projects are of different film types. It clearly demonstrates that the FDF Scheme covers different film categories and production scales to meet various needs of the local film market," said Wilfred Wong, who sits on the HKFDC's fund vetting committee.

Wong added that there are currently several other applications they are processing, and the council hopes their approval of projects can help revitalize the local film industry.

The HKFDC will look at projects they have approved after their release, and review to what extent the FDF is helping the industry. The local industry spent a decade lobbying the government to establish a film council to give the industry centralized control, and create a system of government subsidies, much the same as filmmakers in many other countries enjoy.

However, the FDF has been the centerpiece of discussion since the establishment of the HKFDC this past April. Although Hong Kong financial secretary Henry Tang earmarked $38.4 million for the fund in his February 2007 budget speech, there was much criticism of government funding of any for-profit industry sector, and the HKFDC had to wait approval from the government to use the money.