Mainland and Hong Kong actors at the closing ceremony of the Seventh Beijing International Film Festival.
Hong Kong filmmakers are faced with the rapid development of the global film industry and challenges from the booming market in the Chinese mainland. In response, the future direction of the Hong Kong movie industry will see the sector exploit its unique character and add a dash of ordinary life, according to Wellington Fung, secretary-general of the Hong Kong Film Development Council.
"To me, Infernal Affairs is the best illustration of the Hong Kong spirit, which is to always be alert to changes in the world and have a strong ability to acclimatize to the environment," he said.
"You can see many elderly people learning English - even at the age of 80 - because the city is in the process of becoming globalized and people have to communicate with workers from overseas. That's Hong Kong - we embrace change all the time."
The movie sector has witnessed greater cooperation since June 2003, when the mainland and Hong Kong signed the Closer Economic Partnership - the first free trade agreement between the two.
Hong Kong's film industry boomed in the years that followed, and about 120 to 130 films were released annually, but that raised other questions, according to Fung.
"People saw the same faces appearing in different movies all the time, and the quality of the films also declined," he said. "We felt lost without a clear identification of the core attraction of Hong Kong movies."
Recently, things have been changing. Fung said the success of a number of movies released in the past three years, including Overheard, Love in The Buff and Cold War, have helped the industry regain its core values.
"The Chinese mainland has advantages in terms of making films with historical backgrounds. Filmmakers there have a wider view," Fung said. "Hong Kong's attraction or uniqueness is its charm as a metropolis, which is a timeless classic."
In a past few years, the council has provided more than HK million (.15 million) to run training classes for new technical talent - 138 applicants have been sponsored to date, and nearly half of them are college graduates. The class not only targets future directors, but also assistant cameramen, assistant editors, post-producers and stuntmen.
According to Fung, young people have the edge, thanks to their strong sense of a changing society. "They are young and still have innocent hearts and natural human kindness. It's a great treasure that should be maintained," he said.
However, Fung stressed that filmmaking should never be taken as an art: "That's why we won't provide a big budget to sponsor a new director. Moreover, I will tell him or her that it is their responsibility to make the film into a profitable product. Only those who win will get the chance to survive. That's the law of the jungle."
Compared with the mainland movie industry, Hong Kong has the advantage of being able to break the traditional rules of filmmaking, he said.
"I saw the same trend in the mainland recently. The TV show In the Name of the People impressed me a lot. It's a fresh and successful attempt. I think it's really great," he added.