To inform entertain and excite my kids, Jamie, Patrick, Aaron & Sarah Middleburgh, our family and friends.

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Middleburgh - Seasonal Cinema

The DVD player just choked to death, the freebie film channels on my cable subcription just expired...and worst of all ..someone else has just snapped up all of Hong Kong's Xmass crackers.

Clearly time, to consult the HK Box office to see what's hot this week and, the reviews at

As I write it appears that Storm Warriors is cleaning up even though the reviews are dissapointing!!.

Obviously since HK is the pre-eminent international city and gateway to the orient in Asia, the range of cinema here is slightly more diverse than Cork.For example not only do we get Hollywood offerings such as AVATAR, we get them in cantonese with putongua subtitles as well as in English. We are also blessed with local films as well as gems from Thailand; Korea; Japan, Taiwan and Mainland China.(aren't we lucky !!)

And unlike the mainland which has a quota limit of approximately 20 foreign films per annum, HK's diet of Hollywood films is strictly regulated by market forces (one country two system's in full accordance with the Constitutution etc ). Quota's ARE an impediment to free trade and the issue of film imports into China has recently been subject to a WTO Ruling brought by the US against China. Interestingly the WTO specifically did not rule against the Chinese quota system. (Diatribe against US studio group mind think swamping local asian markets and praise for the French {a great bastion against American cultural hegemony),"Toubon Laws" deleted}

I rather enjoy asian films (even with subtitles!!), because by and large they reflect local cultural values. My favorites include Korean romantic comedies (I am such a softie) , HK gangster and HK/Japanese Horror Movies (especially arround hallowen and new year !!). Think about it - why would anyone want to visit, let alone live in a foreign country if they weren't interested in the local culture. Now if you believe the answer is to get internally oiled; be queen of the clubs and get nicely toasted on the beach, read no further . Go here ( I am so wicked !!) or here. If however you are maginally interested in films especially Asian films read on ....

HK is known for it's vibrant film industry, stars such Bruce Lee and Jacky Chan, and the Kung Fu Genre which it has made its own. My personal experience is that outside Asia, Asian films are frequently only accessable through arthouse cinemas, late night specials or at film festivals. Anglo-saxon (and celtic) audiences seem to have a profound aversion to subtitles. Personally I am convinced it is either due to poor eye care or low levels of literacy (or both)! Fortunately my relatives have had laser surgery. (vink vink)

At its peak, Hong Kong had 255 Cinemas Today a limited number of "circuits" (groups showing the same films) prevail.The last arthouse cinema on Hong Kong Island closed in 2006 only to reopen this year in Kowloon. I also understand that Kowlon has the last cinema in Hong Kong to show adult films. It fulfills a vital social need !! Well its not the same watching them at home on your own.. is it !

Notwithstanding this consolidation the circuits (see below) still offer a reasonably competative selection of films.

If you want to see classical HK cimema you should consider visiting the Hong Kong Film Archive which organises lots of retrospectives . If on the other hand you want the state of the art you should visit the local IMAX Cinemas).I had intended going to see Star Trek in one but unfortunately I was busy and missed it. Not a problem though ... in HK if you are a member of the Director's Club you can hire a mini cinema for a private screening with bouffet. This is a logic extention of the chinese model of hiring a private banqueting suite at a restaurant for a party or a private room for karaoke and is rather neat!!.

And as befits an prestigeous international city we have one or two film festivals

HK International Film Festival

Arguably Asia’s answer to Cannes? Screening over 250 titles from more than 50 countries in 11 major cultural venues across the territory, the Festival is Hong Kong’s largest cultural event reaching an audience of over 580,000. The 34th HKIFF will be held from 21 March to 6 April 2010 with the Asia Film Awards being handied out on 22 March. In stature these awards compete with the Taipei Golden Horse Awards which are argued to be the most prestigious award in the Chinese-language film industry. This is of course politically very provocative and Mainland China has expanded the scope of its own Golden Rooster Awards to cover "Greater China" in order that a proper understanding of chinese culture may be arrived at by all parties.

Summer International Film Festival

Junior HKIFF which premieres about 30 new films with an added appeal to the younger audience from August through September to encourage early interest in the arts with such seminal works as the not to be missed Vampire Girl v Frankenstein Girl.

HK Asian Film Festival

Heirlooms: 2005 classic Taiwanese Horror Film
This annual festival started in 2004 and this year screened a wide range of films at three locations during 15-30 October 2009. Their web site says it all. This is the one to visit HK for if you are a mere mortal!!

HK short Film Festival

The I SHOT HONG KONG Film Festival started in 2005 with just three films by three frustrated film-makers. Today, its mission is to shake up the film industry in Hong Kong by recognising new independent film-making talent and by providing platforms for the work of new filmmakers to be shown

HK Asian Independent Film Festival

This year the second HKAIFF showcased more than 30 films from across Asia. According to Venus Wong, the festival's curator and the general manager of Ying E Chi, an organization that promotes and distributes independent films in Hong Kong fewer than ten independent films are made here each year and the number of cinemas that screen indie films outside of festivals and special events is diminishing. It does however occur to me that the number of different and "competing" film festivals not only reflects the volume of new work available to screen but also fact that different interested parties can't agree a common festival program. (am I cynical or what?)

HK Independent Short Film and Video Awards

Promotes innovative creative media since 1995 and hosted annually by the Hong Kong Arts Centre, it is a core event of the annual Entertainment Expo, which takes place every March. It is also the occasion when the HK Film Awards Association (very HK film industry centic body) hands out its sought afterHK Film Awards. In my view the statuette is more attractive than an Oscar.

Other HK Film Festivals

We have the French Film Festival in HK supported by the Alliance Francaise and French Consul General and a German Film Festival presented by Goethe-Institut Hongkong and co-curated by the HKIFF Society. Conspicuous by it's absence is the British Film Festival sponsored by The British Council.

And of course no collection of film festivals would be complete without mention of the conoclatic and onligatory Jewish Film Festival (in HK) and the HK Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. 'Nuff said!!

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