GOING TO MOVIES IS IMPORTANT AND A GREAT EXPERIENCE
The 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival has begun and will follow through April 2nd . Roger Garcia is this year executive director. The festival began as a cultural event in Hong Kong to show people films that they might not otherwise have seen, because they did not have access to it. Now, things have changed a little because of the Internet and the downloading system. Nowadays they focus their attention on movies people might not have been aware of, and this festival aims also at preserving going to see the movies in theaters, because “Cinema is built for screens (…) but movies are becoming a fairly solitary experience” Garcia Said.
Plus, during this event, they can promote Asian cinema. This was the first international film festival in Asia and in 1979 they introduced for the first time ever, in any international festival, a section dedicated to Asian films. “Asia is a continent where there are lots of interesting movies being made, which people rarely see” Roger Garcia adds.
What makes this festival different from the others in Asia? Mainly, freedom of expression. In Hong Kong they are allowed to show whatever they want. The selection is really important and very well thought to appeal the audience. It is not an elitist event but a festival for everybody, and the audience number is fairly stable around 80,000 – 90,000 people. The only problem is that there is not a structure, cinema complex or area where to put together a number of theaters. People have to go from one place to another, which is not always practical and damages the ticket attendance.
This festival also shines a light on Hong Kong films abroad. They are taken seriously and valued by the professionals.
When he is asked about the most exciting movies he wants to see, Roger Garcia answers Shoah, a 9½ hour documentary movie about the Holocaust. “I like the fact that we are showing the Paradise trilogy (Paradise: Faith, Paradise: Hope, Paradise Love) which will take place in one day. Golden Gate Silver Light which is about Esther Eng, one of the few Chinese American women making films in the U.S. She directed Bruce Lee at 3 months old in Golden Gate Girl.”
Finally, Garcia is excited about the restored classics program that will show movies like Laurence of Arabia. “Even though these works are available on DVD, the audience has really come out for it” Garcia stated.