How Hong Kong’s First Feature Film Initiative subsidies helped a new generation of directors – and how every movie from scheme’s first 10 years fared

2. Mad World (2017)

Produced by: Derek Chiu, Heiward Mak

Box office: HK$16.9 million

The FFFI got its first taste of commercial success with Wong Chun’s film, about a recovering bipolar patient (Shawn Yue Man-lok) who moves back to live with his guilt-ridden father (Eric Tsang Chi-wai) in a tiny subdivided flat.

3. In Your Dreams (2018)

Produced by: Carina Lau

Box office: HK$475,000

The lowest selling project among FFFI titles on commercial release, Tam Wai-ching’s film tells the story of a rich but unhappy housewife ( Carina Lau Ka-ling, her first time producing) and the high-school student (Ng Siu-hin) who becomes obsessed with her.
While undoubtedly watchable, Tam’s decision to structure her inconsequential narrative as an artful mood piece failed to connect with a larger audience. Lau has yet to return to producing. Read our full review

4. Somewhere Beyond the Mist (2018)

Produced by: Derek Yee

Box office: HK$771,000

Sadly, there is a real disconnect between artistic merit and commercial acclaim when it comes to this fact-based murder mystery directed by documentary filmmaker Cheung King-wai whose best-known work, KJ, was a much bigger box office hit.

Cinema-goers and critics chose to overlook the film, which this writer described as a “slow-burning masterpiece”.. Cheung’s haunting effort received three nods at the HKFA, but came away empty-handed. Read our full review

5. G Affairs (2019)

Produced by: Titus Ho, Flora Goh

Box office: HK$1 million

This utterly idiosyncratic tale of gruesome death, wasted youth, gratuitous sex and provocative political gestures was directed by Lee Cheuk-pan and executive-produced by Herman Yau Lai-to.

Lee is the only FFFI participant to date who has had a second film released in cinemas – although The Fallen (2020) is so awful that he may find it much harder to make a third. Read our full review

6. Still Human (2019)

Produced by: Fruit Chan

Box office: HK$19.8 million

A success story similar to Mad World’s, Oliver Chan Siu-kuen’s moving tale of a disabled middle-aged man ( Anthony Wong Chau-sang) and his young Filipino helper (Crisel Consunji) established a rapport with critics and the public.
Apart from doing well at the box office, a rarity for a low-key domestic drama such as this, it was also nominated in eight categories at the HKFA, winning in three. Read our full review

7. Apart (2020)

Produced by: Herman Yau

Box office: NA

This relationship drama set against the umbrella movement is a testament to how Hong Kong’s political landscape has shifted: it was greenlit in 2016, screened at film festivals and in non-commercial venues in 2020, and now presumably buried forever in this post-national-security-law era.
Directed by Chan Chit-man, the melancholic tale of young love in a time of upheaval remains the only FFFI production not to have secured a general release in the city’s cinemas – clearly not because of its lack of commercial appeal. Read our full review

8. My Prince Edward (2020)

Produced by: Chan Hing-kai, O Sing-pui

Box office: HK$5.2 million

Screenwriter Norris Wong Yee-lam made her directing debut with this understated drama set in the working-class neighbourhood of its title and revolving around familiar topics for women in conservative Chinese society: marriage and personal freedom.

The film gave Stephy Tang Lai-yan one of the key roles in her transition from pop idol to celebrated actress, and was nominated in eight categories at the HKFA and won two, including best new director.
Wong’s second film, The Lyricist Wannabe, recently premiered at festivals and looks set for a Hong Kong release next year. Read our full review

9. Elisa’s Day (2021)

Produced by: Wong Yat-ping

Box office: HK$704,000

The second worst box office performer on this list may have been a victim of its own ambition. Writer-director Alan Fung Chi-hang’s portrait of loneliness was told as a fragmented, decade-spanning story. Mention of its inspiration – a crime of passion from the 1990s – might constitute a spoiler.

Despite poignant performances from Hanna Chan and Carol To Hei-ling, this curiously unmarketable film is so far the only eligible title from the FFFI line-up to have failed to score even one HKFA nomination. Read our full review

10. Hand Rolled Cigarette (2021)

Produced by: Lawrence Ah Mon

Box office: HK$8 million

A history-minded, socially conscious film packaged as a violent gangster thriller, actor-turned-director Chan Kin-long’s FFFI project sees Lam Ka-tung’s former British soldier and newcomer Bipin Karma’s marginalised South Asian boy on the run form an unlikely bond in Chungking Mansions, the Tsim Sha Tsui high-rise residential and commercial estate known for its multiethnic population.
The film received seven nods each for the HKFA and the Golden Horse Awards; Chan’s best new director honour at the former turned out to be the film’s solitary win from both. Read our full review

11. Hong Kong Family (2022)

Produced by: Patricia Cheng

Box office: HK$12.7 million

It might seem odd to call this moderate box office hit underappreciated, but that’s arguably the case, considering that Hong Kong Family stars two members of the popular boy band Mirror (Edan Lui Cheuk-on and Anson Lo Hon-ting) and was released when local box office records were being broken left and right.

Eric Tsang Hing-weng’s exquisite family drama also received just one HKFA nomination (best new performer for Lui) – even if it was chosen by this writer as the best Hong Kong film of 2022 in the Post’s annual ranking of local film releases. Read our full review

12. Lost Love (2023)

Produced by: Katherine Lee

Box office: HK$7.3 million

This affecting drama about a grieving mother who embarks on foster care, directed by Ka Sing-fung, is an artistically accomplished and emotionally resonant film that doesn’t conform to mainstream narrative conventions – and is all the better for it.

A prime example of the FFFI’s impact in lifting the financial pressure on a production and enabling a filmmaker to realise his personal vision, Lost Love also helped Cantopop superstar Sammi Cheng Sau-man to her first HKFA best actress win at her 10th time of trying. Read our full review

13. A Light Never Goes Out (2023)

Produced by: Saville Chan

Box office: HK2.2 million

It would be hard to imagine a purely commercial production showing quite the same enthusiasm for preserving local culture as Anastasia Tsang Hin-ling’s film does for Hong Kong’s rapidly fading tradition of neon sign making.

Sylvia Chang Ai-chia was named best actress at the Golden Horse Awards for her role as a grieving widow in this gentle study of loss and recovery, which has also been picked to represent Hong Kong at the coming Academy Awards. Read our full review
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