23 Aug 2023

ASEAN FILM FESTIVAL: Strengthening cultural ties between Hong Kong and Southeast Asia

Distinguished guests at the ASEAN Film Festival 2023 Finale

Hong Kong and the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) share a rich history of cooperation in trade relations and cultural exchange that has spanned decades. The Hong Kong-ASEAN Foundation, a registered not-for-profit organisation serving as a platform to promote mutual understanding between Hong Kong and the ASEAN, aims to deepen cultural and economic ties between the two areas. Seeing an opportunity to foster cultural bonds through the art of storytelling, recently organised the inaugural ASEAN FILM FESTIVAL (AFF), held from 4 to 19 August, with 21 screenings of films from some of Southeast Asia’s top filmmakers.

“The ASEAN and Hong Kong enjoy long-standing and deep-rooted partnerships that span decades,” says Daryl Ng, SBS, JP, Chairman of HK-ASEAN Foundation. “Such partnerships are highlighted by the [HKSAR] Chief Executive’s highly successful visit to ASEAN countries last month. Through the ASEAN Film Festival, we seek to present to Hong Kong audiences the rich cinematic tapestry of the ASEAN, and to promote a deeper understanding of one another’s cultures. It is also a celebration of Hong Kong’s strength in the creative industries as well as our role as a bridge connecting the ASEAN and mainland China.”

Throughout the two weeks of the AFF, over 600 students and young people were invited to screenings of 14 specially curated films. “I hope these youngsters have enjoyed exploring the richness and depth of ASEAN cultures, and this Festival will inspire many more collaborations and partnerships,” said Daryl Ng. “AFF would only be possible with the unwavering support and collaboration of the ASEAN Consulates in Hong Kong. My heartfelt gratitude to them for their invaluable contributions, and I would also like to thank our esteemed partners, including the Asia Society Hong Kong Center, M+, the sky (Olympian City), Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Invest Hong Kong, Our Hong Kong Foundation and all the chambers and associations for joining us on this journey.”

The AFF 2023 Finale was marked by a closing screening of the award-winning Indonesian film ‘Before, Now and Then’ at the Hong Kong Palace Museum in West Kowloon Cultural District.

“The Indonesian film industry has a long history of using film as a medium to raise important social issues and connect with audiences,” said Muhammad Neil El Himam, Deputy for Digital Economy and Creative Products at Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy. “‘Before, Now and Then’ by director Kamila Andini is a period drama film set against the backdrop of late 1960s upheavals in Indonesia. I hope people can gain a better understanding of Indonesian culture through this film. Hong Kong, as an international hub in Asia, is an ideal location for connecting cross-regional cultures and driving better understanding among neighbours. Cinema is just one tool, and I am confident that there is potential for more collaboration between Hong Kong, Indonesia and other ASEAN nations through many such cultural platforms.”

The event was attended by many distinguished guests, including the Honourable Kevin YEUNG Yun-hung, GBS, JP, Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), Muhammad Neil El Himam, Deputy for Digital Economy and Creative Products at Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Daryl Ng, SBS, JP, Chairman of Hong Kong-ASEAN Foundation, Bernard Charnwut Chan, GBM, GBS, JP and Daniel Fung, SBS, SC, KC, JP.

The Consul Generals or representatives of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, along with representatives from supporting organisations including the chambers of commerce, Asia Society Hong Kong Center, M+, the sky (Olympian City), Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Invest Hong Kong and Our Hong Kong Foundation were also present to lend their support and participate in the evening’s festivities.

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