- The Washington Times - Friday, July 20, 2001

"We put on the festival because we think it is a nice way to remind people of Hong Kong's existence," said Jacqueline Willis, the Washington-based Hong Kong Commissioner for Economic and Trade Affairs, USA, at Tuesday's reception marking the debut of the sixth annual "Made In Hong Kong" Film Festival at the Freer Gallery of Art.

"It's a way of generating good will," she added, smiling at the crowds thronging the hallways of the elegant museum before a showing of director Gordon Chan's "2000." The feature, which she promised had plenty of high-tech action and adventure, was free, as was the buffet prepared by Cleveland Park's Yanyu restaurant.

The audience was prepared to enjoy it to the hilt — all the blood, guts and mayhem with subtitles — because most attendees already were on Hong Kong's best-buddy list. One exception was the art historian whose motive for coming was a chance to say goodbye to retiring Freer Gallery Director Milo Beach. Alas, although his name was listed prominently as co-host on the invitation, he was absent. "Traveling," a gallery spokesperson said. Nor were any of the acclaimed Chinese actors or directors present.

That didn't matter to Greg Rushford of a trade publication called the Rushford Report, who has been to Hong Kong five times since it was handed back to China by Great Britain in 1997. "Hong Kong is not only a great commercial entity, but the key to modernizing China," he said. Naturally, reaction to last week's news about China's winning hosting rights to the 2008 Olympics was positive, he observed, because "they are patriotic and live under the rule of law."

Ms. Willis was equally certain that fans of Hong Kong's movie talent would relish the selection made by her deputy, Joe Wong, of seven films on view at the Freer through Aug. 19. Two of them, "Rouge" and "A Terracotta Warrior," were chosen because of their ghost theme, she said, which "relates to the (Sackler) Gallery's presentation of the exhibit 'Worshiping the Ancestors: Chinese Commemorative Portraits.'

"Hong Kong makes 150 movies a year," she said proudly. "On a per capita basis — the population is 6 million — we are the biggest producers in the film industry."

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