Lo is an experienced anime producer and began independent anime creation in 1977. His works won the first prize at the Hong Kong Independent Short Film Festival for four consecutive times and he was promoted as panel member. In the next year, he joined the Radio Television Hong Kong to work as cartoon producer until 1993. Over recent years, he spent efforts on promotion of the anime industry in Hong Kong and planning of anime exhibitions. Recently, he worked as the curator of the 50 Years of Hong Kong and Taiwanese Animation. He currently worked as Secretary General of the Hong Kong Animation and Culture Association.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been spreading across the world since January this year. Hong Kong is no exception from the outbreak. In response, the city even adopted measures that are stricter than the measures taken in the 2003 SARS outbreak to contain the pandemic, while working with other regions to fight the pandemic.
Major events have all been cancelled or postponed to maintain social distancing. Public gatherings are limited to four people maximum. If feasible, people are encouraged to work from their home. Under these circumstances, animation events have also made subsequent changes.
Every March and April are considered as the months for the film industry in Hong Kong. There is the core event FILMART, coupled with other major events such as the Hong Kong International Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Awards and ifva. Affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, these events have been postponed to July and August. However, since ifva needs to arrange a series of events throughout the year, the paneling process is proceeding as planned. ifva has only put off the award presentation ceremony.
With 25 years of history, ifva is recognised as an independent short film production platform in Asia. The animation category at ifva is becoming increasingly significant each year, catching lots of attention. I have been serving as a panel for ifva for a long time. This year we had switched to using online video conferencing for the panel meetings, which turned out to be quite effective. This year we have over 200 competing animations from across Asia. After the initial screening, ten animations made it into the final round of selection. The five-person judging panel has four Hong Kong representatives, including me. In addition, we have animation director Matt Abbiss from the UK on the panel as well. After a three-hour meeting on Hangouts, we successfully selected the winner of the competition!
Hong Kong animation Another World took home the gold award with great popularity. A Gong from Taiwan won the silver award, an equally good production. Unfortunately, this year the panel couldn’t appreciate these animations on a silver screen first before commencing the selection meeting. After all, these animations look incredible on a big silver screen. Such viewing experience is hard to achieve on the Internet. The 25th ifva’s award results had been released on its official site in early March. The award presentation ceremony, on the other hand, might take place around August. Matt will not only join us at the award ceremony but would also be actively organising animation seminars and workshops to share his opinions on animations with friends from Hong Kong.
Photo courtesy of ifva
Another anticipated animation event has been the annual ASP (Animation Support Programme). ASP has been around for seven years. It originally planned to showcase 29 short animations that started production in July last year in early March. Five of the 29 animations received HKD500,000 subsidy each from the programme are of high quality. Their themes and animation techniques are both worthy of more discussion. Even animations that are only three to seven minutes long are works from small animation companies that aim to showcase their professional capabilities, which makes them highly enjoyable. The 7th ASP’s screening ceremony is temporarily scheduled to happen in July. The audience will have to wait for a bit longer to see them.
The 8th ASP’s events will proceed as scheduled since it is important to match all teams’ production plan. The only difference now is that they will take place online. Between April and May, there are four introductory conferences that aim to answer questions from potential ASP participants. The programme accepts applications until late May.
The 8th ASP has 30 quotas as previous ones. The programme targets three categories of animation companies, offering a subsidy of HKD110,000, HKD200,000 and HKD500,000 respectively for each of them to produce a respective animation work with storyline of at least 3/5/10 minutes. ASP has always been well-received by the industry and I believe the 8th ASP will not be an exception.
The Great Detective Sherlock Holmes, an animation from Hong Kong that entered the market last summer, also received a number of awards and recognitions during the pandemic. The animation has been produced its English version and would be able to enter cinemas in North America and Europe in the future. The Great Detective Sherlock Holmes’s DVD will start sales at the Hong Kong Book Fair that will be held in July this year if everything goes as planned. Then we can buy a DVD copy and enjoy the animation whenever we want. But of course, this is really dependent on the development of the pandemic.
One thing that made me very happy during this pandemic was knowing several animation professionals had gotten inspiration from this hard time and came up with animations with new themes. And they have started making them! I believe this is the most unexpected good outcome for animation makers during the pandemic!