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Interview with Eric Tsang Chi Wai
Film Industry 1/1 - Page 7
Author(s) : Gina Marchetti
Amy Lee
Thomas Podvin
Date : 14/12/2004
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Leslie Cheung Kwok Wing
Andy Lau Tak Wah
Movies :
Infernal Affairs
Companies :
Cathay Asia Films
Cinema City & Films Co.
D&B Films Co.
Golden Harvest
Shaw Brothers
< Previous
Page 6 : Infernal Affairs
Special thanks to Mr. Eric Tsang for his kindness and patience. Interview conducted on December 14, 2004, at TVB Studios, by Gina Marchetti and Amy Lee (questions provided by Thomas Podvin/Arnaud Lanuque). Thanks extended to Emma Li. Exlusive pictures by Gina Marchetti, for HKCinemagic.com.

HKCM : Could you talk about the speech you made at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 2003? Leslie Cheung had died, and the SARS epidemic was still going on.
ET : When I first heard about Leslie Cheung's death, I was in Japan . I was there because I was so unhappy about the Iraq War I couldn't understand why George W. Bush would go to war without the backing of the United Nations. It's like there are no rules in the world. I was also shocked that in 2003 we still had a disease like SARS that no one had known about and that could not be cured. That sounds like the plague from ancient Chinese history, and we still had this problem. I wanted to take a rest, so I went to Japan . I had just ordered Japanese blow fish for dinner, and I got a phone call that Leslie Cheung had died. I was supposed go back to emcee the Hong Kong Film Awards, and I didn't know what to do. I didn't know whether I was supposed to act happy or sad. I couldn't be happy because so many bad things were happening. They talked about not doing the awards, but they couldn't do that because a lot of people had already committed to come. They wanted me to come back to help cheer up the people of Hong Kong . I thought about it, and I realized that we needed to do the awards because it was a chance to show the world how Hong Kong people were facing this crisis. They told me it may be canceled, but I had to be prepared if the show went on. So, I came back. I said the speech I prepared, and I cried at the time. Seven of the guilds had agreed to cancel the ceremony, but when they heard about what I might say they said that the awards should go forward. I had to make the speech. It had to be exactly what I had said before not longer, not shorter, exactly the same. I reconstructed the speech, and I cried during all the rehearsals for it. The last time I stopped crying, because I just wanted to remember the speech.

Active member in the film industry
HKCM : Now you have an important part to play in the HK film industry, not only as filmmaker or actor but also as an active member in the film industry to promote HK and its cinema (Executive member of the Directors Guild, vice chairman of the Performing Artist Guild, chairman of the Stuntmen Guild...)
You've given so much back to the Hong Kong film industry. What inspires you to be so active?
ET : The industry has changed a lot since I first became involved in filmmaking. Right now, we really need to look for newcomers. There are no big companies now to help new actors, directors, and scriptwriters. In the 1950s, we had Cathay, in the 1960s, Shaw Brothers, in the 1970s, Golden Harvest, in the 1980s, Cinema City and Duk Bo (D&B Films Co.). There was no need to pre-sell; these companies had the power to distribute films themselves; no need to worry about the theaters; studio heads were the boss and could make any film they chose. They could take a chance on new talent, because they were only gambling their own money. Now, all films have to be pre-sold packages, so the final say rests with the theaters. They only want to bank on known personalities and ideas. For example, when the box-office is good for Infernal Affairs, they all want Andy Lau in gangster films. So, all the filmmakers make the same things, and they can't produce new ideas with newcomers in the films. So, I want to find new talent, and I look to the Hong Kong independent filmmakers for fresh ideas. I want to make films that are fresh like Thai and Korean films now. Hong Kong filmmakers must do something to compete.

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