Since the film festivals have been regarded as a form of cultural practice and recognition of cinema, the establishment of film festivals in Asia began in the mid-1970s. Hong Kong as a metropolis provided a model that set the process in motion. In 1977, The Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) was established under the aegis of the British Colonia government in Hong Kong and it was the oldest film festival of its kind in East Asia. Thus I was interested in HKIFF and started to search a lot of relevant information about the film festival online. This year, Hong Kong held the 42nd Hong Kong International Film Festival. The film festival is the largest cultural event in Hong Kong as well as being one of Asian most reputable platforms for filmmakers, film professionals and filmgoers from all over the world to launch new work and experience outstanding films.
Similar with other common international film festivals, in order to create a atmosphere of celebration, the opening ceremony of HKIFF began with red carpets, celebrities, paparazzi, journalists and a bustling crowd. As for considering the outreach of HKIFF, HKIFF stages itself as an “international” event, which means that the festival “caters not only to local or national audiences, but specifically aims to attract international visitors and guests” (Valck, 2016). From this perspective, I browsed the film lists showed on the official website of HKIFF, I found that the festival screened 232 films from 65 countries. Meanwhile, the quantity of Asian films and the quantity of western films are nearly equal. In this way, HKIFF is both domestically and internationally when it tries to bring Eastern film culture and Western film culture together. Nowadays, HKIFF is also a major platform for Asian films such as films of Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines to reach international audiences. At the same time, the festival has also become the best event enabling foreign critics to discover new Asian films that they would go on to introduce to the rest of the world. Thus, HKIFF can not be only regarded as a window for HongKongers to watch foreign films, but also as a window for local audiences and the world to know domestic films. In addition, I think a special outreach of HKIFF is to fasten the bonds between foreign audiences, local audiences and filmmakers from Taiwan and Chinese Mainland.
As for the types of film, HKIFF set up four competitions including young cinema competition, documentary competition and short film competition and Audience Choice Award, in achieving to “cover niche, cross-over and mainstream tastes and cater to professionals as well as general publics” (Valck, 2016), trying to reach more target audiences.
Meanwhile, the festival event is defined as a social concentration during which different parts including international investors, juries, movie stars, film fans and filmgoers are enacted in a public and segregated space. In this way, the Hong Kong International Film Festival can be regarded as a public sphere when different people who have different ideologies and identities are seated in the cinemas watching the same film.
Valck, D.M. (2016), ‘What is a film festival? How to study festivals and why you should’. Film Festivals: History, theory, method, practice. NY: Rutledge, 1-11