Shaw takes reins at Hong Kong fest


The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society has tapped Soo Wei Shaw, a granddaughter of Chinese media tycoon Run Run Shaw, as its executive director.

Shaw has worked for the Singapore Film Commission, as a media consultant and briefly as a branding and marketing specialist for the Hong Kong office of Disney-ABC Asia Pacific. She will take up the post vacated by Peter Tsi last year and temporarily filled at the beginning of this year by HKIFF veteran Albert Lee.

"We looked for a person with a background in the film industry and experience in management and marketing," HKIFF chairman Wilfred Wong said Friday. "Ms. Shaw was a very outstanding candidate who came out on top."

Shaw, who arrived in Hong Kong a month ago to take a consulting position with Disney-ABC, was contacted by a recruitment agency.

"This new job is unexpected, but I'm happy to be part of one of the most important and successful film festivals in Asia," Shaw said. "HKIFF has been an extremely valuable brand in promoting Asian filmmakers, and it has been an incredible platform to discover, inspire and launch Asian filmmakers."

Shaw worked with the Singapore government for four years and later was involved in developing and promoting the film and TV industry there. She also served as a marketing consultant for The Hollywood Reporter in 2007.

The HKIFF Society board has high expectations that Shaw will "improve and promote the festival as well as strengthen ties with the international film community" in her job overseeing the festival, the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum and the Asian Film Awards, Wong added.

"Ms. Shaw's work with the Singapore government proved that she has the ability to take up a leadership position in the marketing of the festival as well as maintain ties with the international film community," Wong said.

Wong believes that Singapore-born Shaw will fit in well with the 32-year-old Hong Kong institution. "As its name implies, the HKIFF is international by nature. Besides, there are no boundaries in film," he said.

Held each March, the HKIFF suffered some bad press in 2007, including criticism of the venue management. Wong said he believes the problems were isolated incidents.

"There are always technical problems with large-scale events. We will learn from this experience and try to avoid these minor but irritating mistakes next year," he said.

Shaw, a graduate of Oxford University who speaks Mandarin, Cantonese and English, said she has "101 ideas for the festival, but it's too early to say anything at this point." She is expected to assume the post in early October when her work permit is finalized. (partialdiff)