The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society (HKIFFS) has cancelled this year’s edition of the festival, as well as Cine Fan’s September/October programme, due to Hong Kong’s recent upsurge in Covid-19 infections.

However, the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) will still take place online from August 26-28, running concurrently with Filmart Online.

“While it is tremendously deflating, given all the hard work that we have put in, the well-being of our colleagues and the public is of the utmost importance to us,” said HKIFFS executive director Albert Lee. “Calling off HKIFF44 is heartbreaking, but we believe we have a duty to act with social responsibility.”

Initially scheduled to take place in April, HKIFF was postponed to late summer and expected to take place as a physical event, with dates set for August 18-31.

However, after months of successfully containing Covid-19, Hong Kong has seen an alarming uptick in infections in recent weeks, which are thought to have originated among incoming air and ship crews exempted from quarantine restrictions. Hong Kong is currently recording more than 100 new infection cases every day and the number of deaths, after holding at just four for months, has risen to 16.

Lee thanked participating filmmakers for their support, as well as the festival’s stakeholders, sponsors and partners: “We will start working on the next edition of the festival straight away. We are determined to make up for the ‘lost’ HKIFF44.”