Hong Kong Film Wins Crystal Bear Award At Berlinale 2010 Festival

“Echoes of the Rainbow” By Alex Law Wins Festival’s Top Award For Youth-Themed Movies

Echoes of the Rainbow actor Aarif Lee (L), director Alex Law (C) and producer Mabel Cheung (R) attend the Berlinale award ceremony

Echoes of the Rainbow actor Aarif Lee (L), director Alex Law (C) and producer Mabel Cheung (R) attend the Berlinale award ceremony

Previously, Jing Daily covered the Berline International Film Festival — or Berlinale — which took place from February 11-21. As we mentioned at that time, films from mainland China and Hong Kong played a much more prominent role in this year’s festival, with “Apart Together” by director Wang Quan’an chosen as the opening film and nearly 10 Chinese films — by top filmmakers like Zhang Yimou and others — included in the lineup.

Although the Chinese films competing for the festival’s top prize, the Golden Bear, failed to edge out Turkish director Semih Kaplanoglu’s “Honey” (Bal), Hong Kong media is celebrating local director Alex Law winning the Crystal Bear award — the top award given out for youth-themed movies — for his film “Echoes of the Rainbow.”

According to the Canadian Press, Law’s award is being hailed in Hong Kong as a victory for Hong Kong’s flagging film industry, which in previous decades was the third-largest in the world but has more recently been overshadowed by the mainland:

[W]hen an unheralded, cheaply budgeted Cantonese film – the southern Chinese dialect used in Hong Kong, as opposed to the national dialect of Mandarin common on the mainland – won even a minor prize in Berlin, Hong Kong was euphoric.

News cameras were waiting when Law and producer Mabel Cheung wheeled their baggage carts into the arrival hall at the Hong Kong International Airport early Monday fresh from a flight from Berlin. Their win dominated newspaper headlines.

“The success of the movie shows that in the age of creative industries, low-budget Hong Kong movies still have an irreplaceable advantage,” the Wen Wei Po newspaper wrote in an editorial.

The Hong Kong government, which is eager to diversify its services-oriented economy and funded about 30 per cent of the film’s 12 million Hong Kong dollar budget ($1.5 million), also rejoiced. The win “shows the ability of Hong Kong filmmakers,” Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Rita Lau said in a statement Sunday. “The film industry is the flagship of Hong Kong’s creative industries.”

Speaking to reporters at the Hong Kong airport Monday, Law said the win showed the importance of telling truly local stories.

“I think movies should have a local flavour, a local quality. Now everyone wants to make mainland movies and has stopped making Hong Kong movies. It shouldn’t be like that,” he said.

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