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Last Updated 14.10.2019 | 10:50 PM IST
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Digicon6 Special: “China is building 3 cinemas per day!” – Alex Law

Excerpts from the keynote address by famed Hong Kong filmmaker, Alex Law, whose recent release, Echoes of the Rainbow has received critical acclaim worldwide. Alex was speaking at 12th Digicon6 Pre-Conference “Asia Contents Forum”, running at the sidelines of Inter BEE conference in Tokyo.:


Echoes of the Rainbow is about my childhood. In fact, 90 per cent of what you will see in the film is all about what happened to me in my childhood. I have made sure that I shot the film in actual locations where particular incidents in my life had happened. While choosing locations, I was very particular that they were most suitable for the story. It all depends on the story and not the market.


Authentic Locations

The reason why I chose the ’60s as the background of the film was because that’s actually the time when it happened. Somehow, the ’60s are a very nostalgic age, the golden age for some who stayed in Hong Kong at that time. All the people born after the war will cherish the film. The love that the people shared in those times was unprecedented. The entire neighborhood would dine together. My mum would only cook one dish because all the rest was taken care of by our neighbors. Even when I returned from school to find my home locked, I could easily walk into my neighbors house and stay as long as I wanted.


Asian Film Market

The film has not been released outside of Hong Kong yet but we are in talks with a Japanese distributor. I look forward to the day when there will be a pan-Asian market for films from not only Japan, but other Asian countries too. In Asia, we have our drawbacks. But we also have our advantages. With the spread of the internet, the popularity of small filmmakers is increasing, and not only in their parent countries but the neighboring countries as well. Moreover, we have seen, in the recent years, a number of co-productions among countries. So, the market of such films is not limited to the producing countries but goes beyond that. When I showed Echoes of the Rainbow in the Berlin Film Festival, to my pleasant surprise, I was approached by an Israeli company for a co-production!


Chinese Potential

A film commission in Hong Kong sponsors 35-40 per cent of films that cost up to USD 2 million. All regions in China have government subsidies meant for films. But there is a lot of latent potential in the Chinese film market because filmmaking is ultimately an investment. Sooner or later the film industry should be able to stand on its own feet. But the government has to jumpstart the process. The mainland Chinese market is huge and undiscovered. In China there are 2,500 screens whereas in the U.S. there are over 15,000, with only one-tenth the population of China. In many provinces of China there are no cinemas at all. Right now the number of cinemas being built per day in China is three. Hence, there is a huge potential.


American Dominance

American movies have dominated the world film market over the past 20-30 years. But I can see a future where Asian movies will dominate the Eastern hemisphere. The development of the Chinese market is almost there. I am just hoping that it is here to stay. Americans are very good storytellers, whereas Asians are on the other end of the spectrum: they like to listen to stories. But we need to make improvements in the distribution, technical know-how and the studio system, not so much in the stories. Each country should produce its own stories. Movies should be made if they touch the filmmaker. One always wants to come up with a story that has never been told. But all the existing stories have already been told.

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