|Law Kar: Let’s put it that way, from the first edition of the HKIFF in the 1970s, people who worked for the festival were already aware that we needed a film archive; to preserve old films, to supply old films for the programming of the film festival and to provide material for film studies. So from the first or the second edition on, people like Roger Garcia and others, other officials, even government officials and critics like Freddie Wong, all of them had strong desire that it should happen and they pushed for a HKFA. At the time, people didn’t have the awareness nor resources. The government said “OK, we will look into it.” But two decades passed. This kind of attention for funding the HKFA was further delayed until the late 1980s.
In between, there were still some forums and some action taken to foster a HKFA, and the critic circle of the HKIFF tried to invite some foreign guests and experts, to talk about that kind of subjects. So the government must have heard a lot of voices about this [the creation of a film archive] and till the end of the 1980s, filmmakers and film people, like Chow Yun-fat and Ng See Yuen or others, also spoke openly about the need for a film archive. In the early 1990s the government decided to set up the film archive. They sent people to all archives around the world to collect information and find out how to establish it and then finally they planned a budget. So from 1993 on, there was a preparatory office for the film archive, they started to collect films and do some small projects, and this for seven years.
They also put up a building especially for the archive [Ed.: storage rooms need a constant temperature and humidity level], and finally we had an archive opening for the public in 2000 [ED.: the HKFA website mentions that the archive was opened on January 2000].
You devoted editor hurrying to the HKFA
And between that, I think from 1993 to the opening of the film archive year, we always have had an intimate relationship with the HKIFF. First, because both of them were sponsored by the HK government, they were wholly financed by the HK government [Ed.: as of 2009, the HKFA is still under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. But the HKIFF became independent in 2004 and is run by the HKIFF Society]. And secondly, because of the people; we have mutual friends and working staffs. Some people in the archive would give the HKIFF more information, a filmography, or supply us with films, and then the HKIFF people would come to the film archive to view films. We ask them to write article and they ask us to give them material. There is really an intensive interflow, exchange of knowledge and manpower between the two organisations, since 1993.
By the end of the 1990s, in 1999, the archive’s preparation was quite ready and they were going to open it to the public. So they asked if I could go to work at the film archive. I said OK, and I transferred to this organisation and stopped working for the HKIFF.
Since year 2000, the HKFA has programmed every year a retrospective or a special programme that lasts at least two weeks. It is not out of the HKIFF budget. We’ve been doing it ourselves, but it is a kind of support to the HKIFF. We do the programme mainly here using archives. It often happens at the same time as the HKIFF. In fact part of the activities under the big umbrella of the HKIFF is done by the HKFA.