Wednesday, 23 February 2022 21:05

Hong Kong Film Festival postponed due to COVID concerns

Hong Kong, February 23 (ANI): The Hong Kong International Film Festival, scheduled for the end of March, has been postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

As per Variety, this decision follows the Hong Kong government’s moves earlier this week to extend social distancing measures until April 20, 2022. Cinemas throughout the territory have been closed on government orders since January 7.

The 12-day 46th edition of HKIFF had been set for March 31- April 11. Organizers will aim to reschedule the festival and Cine Fan screenings to a date later this year.

Sources close to the festival organizers told Variety that prior to the government announcement, they had succeeded in locking in 90 per cent of the program.

The FilMart rights market and Hong Kong — Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF), which also normally operate in March, had both long ago opted for an online-only format for 2022. FilMart will run March 14-17.

The HKIFF cancellation is the second time in three years that the pandemic has forced the festival to cancel its scheduled March event. In 2021, when Hong Kong had very low levels of local coronavirus transmission, the festival was able to go ahead as a hybrid with 190 films presented at online and in-person screenings, albeit with few foreign visitors.

In pursuit of a so-called dynamic zero-COVID policy, the territory has largely self-isolated behind tough border restrictions and prolonged quarantine periods. And it had largely succeeded in taming earlier waves of the disease.

But, since the beginning of this year, the omicron variant of the disease was able to overcome these barriers and has sparked by far the territory’s most severe disease conditions, threatening the lives of many senior citizens who have been reluctant to be vaccinated.

The city government on Tuesday dialled up its measures to defeat the virus, ordering three mandatory PCR tests for all residents from March, the extension of social distancing measures, school closures and confirmation of its planned vaccine pass system. (ANI)