The Asian Film Awards (AFA), hosted in Hong Kong each March to coincide with Filmart and the HK Film Festival, has appointed Ms HO Yuet-fung as director. Ms Ho is already in post. She’s probably not a familiar name, but comes to the job with a pretty impressive CV.
The AFA started in 2007, the same year as the broader Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) in Australia, and has built its appeal and profile off the back of the simultaneous and longer-established film festival and Hong Kong Trade Development Council’s Filmart and associated events.
Ms Ho spent her early career as a writer, having trained as a journalist. She worked as a scriptwriter for TVB, the TV broadcaster which is part of the Shaw Brothers’ group of companies.
Having later worked in the US in a number of roles, including as a New York-based film producer and Vice President, International Business Development for then New York Mayor Bloomberg, she went on to CBS, eventually returning to Hong Kong as MD of the network’s Asian operation.
She is, therefore, very well-connected internationally, which is the AFA’s focus over the coming years. Having established itself as an important event on the Asian Film calendar, AFA now aims to develop a stronger globally-recognised brand.
Hong Kong trades on its pan-cultural experience and longstanding East-West relationships in many areas of business, and film and TV are no exceptions to that. It is a very user-friendly place for English speakers to do business.
One of its traditional advantages for international filmmakers, the ability to access the Chinese market both for production and exhibition, is being eroded as China gradually opens itself through co-production treaties and compliance with the WTO ruling on admission of foreign films, but the territory remains attractive for other reasons – not least its flat rate 15% tax system.
While Ms Ho’s new role does not involve attracting production to the territory, any activities which increase the international profile of the AFA, which is owned as part of the HK Film Festival, and through that of opportunities for doing business in and with HK, will be welcomed by the local industry.
The first AFA under Ms Ho’s management will take place 21 March next year.