A delegation of the Hong Kong film industry today (Oct 23) begins a three-day visit to Beijing to explore possibilities for closer co-operation with mainland China.

Led by Ma Fung-Kwok, vice chairman of Hong Kong's Motion Picture Industry Association and deputy to the National People's Congress, the group consists of more than 80 delegates. They include Peter Lam, Alvin Lam, John Chong, Anita Mui, Stephan Chow as well as directors Johnny To, Wai Ka-Fai and Joe Ma.

'The delegation is the largest of its kind since the first such group was sent to Beijing in 1993. It is a gesture from Hong Kong's film industry to thank the Central Government for its efforts in making the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) possible,' said Ma.

CEPA, signed on 29 June this year, exempts Hong Kong-made movies from the mainland's import quota of 20 foreign films a year.

During the visit, a seminar will be held to exchange ideas with the Ministry of Culture, State Administration of Radio, Film and TV (SARFT), and the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.

'We would like to learn more of the details for CEPA, like the definition of Hong Kong companies and the ratio of foreign and mainland crews,' said Ma.

Issues not covered by CEPA are also high on the agenda. 'We aim to increase Hong Kong's involvement in China's film distribution system. We'll propose to let Hong Kong pick domestic distributors in China, instead of being restricted to the authorised ones. It will help Hong Kong to better manage the film's release timing and marketing campaign,' he added.