The inaugural Hong Kong Asia Screenings appeared to cement its status as a permanent fixture this week with an endorsement from influential local industry body the MPIA.

The support should mean that the screenings get backing from the Hong Kong production majors in addition to the Hong Kong Arts Development Council and the Hong Kong International Film Festival, which is supporting the event as parallel industry fair.

MPIA deputy chairman Peter Lam described the three-day screenings as the ideal showcase for the progress made by the Hong Kong film industry. "We at the MPIA are delighted to look forward to a bigger event next year," he said.

Although nearly drowned out by the throng at a cocktail event for the screenings, director Peter Chan Ho Sun pointed to the dramatic modernisation in the last few years in the local and regional film sectors. The filmmaker, whose credits include The Love Letter and He's A Woman, She's A Man, cited the Hong Kong Asia Film Forum as a forerunner.

"Asia did come together," he said. "When we launched Applause Pictures two years ago years ago, Asian co-productions were almost unheard of."

At the festival, My Life As McDull, an animation about a piglet, was the surprise winner of the FIPRESCI international critics' award. Local critics thought the film, based on a popular Hong Kong cartoon character, contained too many cultural specific jokes and would be lost on a foreign jury.

Director Toe Yuen also seemed surprised at the decision and was speechless when he went up to collect the award.