Ho Ka Cheng

Supervisor of Audio-Visual CUT Association. One of the directors of Macau Stories 1, also involved in Macau Stories 2─Love in the City and Macau Stories 3City Maze. Macau Stories 2Love in the City received a special mention at Portugal’s Avanca Film Festival, and was shown at film festivals in Tokyo and Osaka.

New milestone of development of local film culture

06 2017 | Issue 21


The official opening of Cinematheque‧Passion on 31 March, 2017 marks a milestone of the development of film culture in Macao, as the venue will be a major breeding ground for such development. Film production (industrial policy) and film culture (cultural policy) are two key directions for the development of film industry in a region. Only if both complement with each other will there be possibilities for the long-term development of a locally entrenched industry. 

The Chinese film industry enjoys a dynamic growth at present. China’s box office in 2016 amounted to RMB45.712 billion (the North American box office clocked in RMB78.546 billion in the same year) with a total of 41,179 movie screens across the nation, more than any other countries in the world. Box-office receipt is still a major means for the Chinese movie industry to recoup investments, clouded with a number of negative news, such as box office cheats, securitisation of box office, and huge losses incurred on distributors when they guarantee producers a minimum amount of box-office receipts. Despite all the fuss, there is still a bright prospect for the Chinese movie industry. 

Besides, the Chinese National Arthouse Film Alliance, headed by the China Film Archive, was officially launched on October 2016. Integrating resources like major cinema chains in Mainland China, art-house movie creators and online sales systems, the Alliance picks 100 cinemas in the country for a pilot scheme, in which each cinema has an art-house movie hall (accommodating no less than 100 spectators) to screen four art-house films every day (one session must be scheduled at peak times). Wanda Cinemas, Broadway Cinematheque, Edko Films Ltd, Fabula Entertainment (a movie firm owned by renowned director Jia Zhangke) and Beijing Weiying Shidai Technology Co., Ltd. are among companies joining this alliance. A wide range of films is also screened, including local art-house movies, classic Chinese arthouse movies, films by new directors, award-winning movies in international film festivals, classic overseas art-house movies, films by internationally famed directors, and others. Albeit a movie censorship mechanism, as well as disputes in the definition of art-house movies and the ideologies behind, the Alliance is still regarded as a breakthrough and a brave attempt to take a big step forward in the development of Chinese film culture. 

The movie market in a common sense is referred to a market dominated by feature films. Art-house movies, documentaries, experimental films, animated short films are seen as choices for new directors to sharpen their skills, enriching the elements offered by commercial feature films and appealing to a more diversified portfolio of audience. However, in the history of movie world, art-house films, documentaries and experimental films could explore more issues with a broader scope of influence in different segments of the society. Compared with commercial feature films, these productions boast far more influence in terms of arts, culture and history. 

Nowadays, it’s visionary for China to begin using the experiences and resources from the commercial movie market in exploring the art-house film segment, in tandem with what many advanced countries have gone through in the past. A symbol marking the same vision shared by the art-house movie development in Macao and Mainland China, the Cinematheque‧Passion is also a major breeding ground for such development in the Greater China region, bridging the film institutions in the area, namely the China Film Archive, Taiwan Film Institute, and Hong Kong Film Archive, for better cooperation and exchanges. In Macao, the Cinematheque‧Passion integrates different segments of the local movie industry and helps it advance forward; it also serves as a movie culture gateway, offering more non-commercial film choices for residents, who could enjoy some high-quality, non-mainstream films and have their artistic visions broadened. Another local function of the Cinematheque is to shape the local movie culture via hosting directors’ meetings, talks, workshops and a residence scheme of foreign directors, as well as facilitating different types of movie discussions; these could help generate more in-depth movie studies and scripts, and facilitate the publications of more studies on films and movie scripts, which will become valuable assets for the future film education and research. Moreover, it is of paramount importance that the Cinematheque‧Passion preserves the locally produced works for the next generation to watch and study, as there could only be a future with a clear grasp of history. 

Not all the wishes will be materialised promptly following the opening of Cinematheque‧Passion. It’s only the beginning, requiring the cooperation, participation and care from all sides to make it work. As a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, this present step is of paramount importance and significance. I hereby wish a smooth operation and bright future for the Cinematheque‧Passion.