Four nominated directors at the 31st Hong Kong Film Awards [Photo: Mtime.com]
The presentation ceremony for the 31st Hong Kong Film Awards will be held at the Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Center, on April 15.
Adopting the theme of "New Wave Film", the presentation ceremony aims to showcase the vitality, heritage and perseverance of Hong Kong cinema.
Looking at the list of names that stand out within the Hong Kong film industry, it's clear that new talent has failed to penetrate the inner circle of Hong Kong cinema. A quick glance at this year's nomination lists signifies that this trend remains.
Four of the six nominated directors this year, An Hui, Tsui Hark, Felix Chong and Johnny To, are frequent visitors to the event. Meanwhile, the nominees for Best Actor also include a list of award ceremony regulars that will certainly be familiar with Chinese audiences. The most prominent name on the list is that of Andy Lau. Lau, now more than 50 years old, who has participated in over 140 films to date, has been crowned Best Actor twice before. Hong Kong actor Lau Ching-Wan, who has been nominated for the award ten times previously, also graces the nominee list once again. Moreover, he has been nominated twice for his roles in "Life Without Principle" and "Overheard 2".
Jiang Wen and Ge You, though appearing on the list for the first time, are no strangers to Chinese movie-goers and both have passed the 50-years of age threshold.
Moving away from the men, the list of contenders for Best Actress presents a similar picture. 65-year-old Deannie Yip, Best Actress winner at the 68th Venice International Film Festival and the 48th Taiwan Golden Horse Awards, is accompanied by a group of actors born in the post-70s, including Fanny Shu, Tang Wei, Zhou Xun and Gao Yuanyuan.
The only newcomer to this year's nomination list is Gao Yuanyuan, who makes her debut at the event. Fanny Shu, Tang Wei and Zhou Xun have picked up various awards at different festival across Asia and the world.
As for the Best Supporting Actor and Actress awards, a host of veterans occupy the nominations, including Paul Chun, Lo Hoi-Pang, Kenneth Tsang, So Hang Sheun and Carina Lau. Nicholas Tse and actress Guey Lun-mei are the youngest nominees competing for the supporting actor/actress awards.
So, what has caused the shortage of new energy within the Hong Kong film industry? Why is it so difficult for new actors and new directors to be recognized at premium awards ceremonies?
Kwok Chin-kin, director of "Gallants", winner of Best Film Award at the 2011 Hong Kong Film Awards shared his opinion regarding the matter.
"The Hong Kong film industry is completely controlled by commercial interests. The investors are ultimately businessmen. Employing new actors may cost them less money, but the risk is very high, simply because box office revenues cannot be guaranteed. So, a lack of famous stars in a movie will mean fewer people will be willing to invest in it. Even the cinemas are reluctant to give such films a large amount of screening slots," Kwok said.
Xiong Xinxin, an industry-respected martial arts choreographer, agrees that the support for new actors is lacking, which ultimately restricts the emergence of new talent.
Despite investors being partially to blame, the problem also lies with the new actors themselves. Young stars are eager for success and impatient in their pursuit of fame and fortune. And although the number of co-productions between the mainland and Hong Kong has increased, there are still very few chances available for new film makers from Hong Kong to make their mark.
"Presented with an audience of 1.3 billion people, mainly on the mainland, a film's content should cater to mainland audiences. Bigger markets mean bigger film productions, which, normally only capable directors are able to manage. So, younger directors who have little experience have few chances to make an impact," Famous Hong Kong film maker Wong Bak-Ming explained. Wong added, "The same explanation also applies to new actors."
So, is there anything that new actors and young directors can do to change this situation? The response from famous film makers and actors alike: Cherish every opportunity and continue pursuing your dream.
The presentation ceremony for the 31st Hong Kong Film Awards will be held at the Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Center, on April 15. [Photo: Mtime.com]