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Eyes on China as Hong Kong prepares for Entertainment Expo

China's rapid development as a filmmaking - and watching - market and the rise of digital entertainment are expected to be the main talking points when Hong Kong starts its annual Entertainment Expo on Monday.

With gatherings such at the 5th Asian Film Awards ( http://www.asianfilmawards.asia) and the massive Hong Kong Film and Television Market ( http://www.hkfilmart.com/filmart) among the Expo's 10 core events, organizers hope to use the Expo to promote Hong Kong's own role in the entertainment world - and are promising regular updates on their own website as the world can keep track of what is going on.

EE ( http://www.eexpohk.com) runs from March 21- April 17 and while it is making use of a number venues across the city, it uses the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre as its base.

This year sees a number of new co-production seminars being held as international filmmakers look to gain a foothold in Asia and, specifically, China.

A series of workshops at Filmart are being hosted by the Paris-based Association Ateliers du Cinéma Européen (ACE) and its chief executive Ronan Girre said the filmmaking world was being inspired by what it saw coming out of China.

"Studios and filmmakers all over the world are looking to Asia and specifically to Chinese film industry," he told Relaxnews. "Lately the dynamism and diversity of the Chinese film business seems amazing to me: from art house films to big historical blockbusters, there are fantastic films being produced everywhere, from Beijing and Shanghai to Hong Kong, and Taipei."

China's film industry is coming off a record-breaking 2010 where box office receipts rose 64 percent, to top the US$1.5 billion (1.1 billion euros) mark, and two of the biggest hits of the year - Aftershock and Let the Bullets Fly - were both made with a mix of international and Chinese money.

One way filmmakers are able to get into China is through animated films, which do not come under the country's annual quota of 20 foreign films a year.

"Animation is a huge growth industry in China," explained Charlie Wong distribution and production manager of Hong Kong's T-Films, responsible for last year's animated feature Little Gobie. "And everyone wants to do business in China."

Entertainment Expo
March 21-April 17
Various venues, Hong Kong

mobile apps from the organizers: www.hktdc.com/mobile