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Representatives of the New York Asian Film Festival, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York presented Hong Kong film star Jackie Chan with NYAFF's Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in New York on Monday. Caroline Berg / China Daily
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The crowd waited in line in the rain all afternoon for a chance to see him. It's not every day that a legendary Hong Kong movie star lands in New York.
On Monday evening, the 268-capacity Walter Reade Theater at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts overflowed with fans and members of the media who gathered to see film icon Jackie Chan receive an award, hear him discuss his career during a live interview and watch his 2012 film Chinese Zodiac.
"All my life, I have been making all these movies, and they are very, very important to me," Chan, 59, said before accepting the New York Asian Film Festival's Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award. "I am still very young."
The ceremony was held to help kick off a retrospective of Chan's films, from June 23 to 27, and the 12th New York Asian Film Festival, from June 28 to July 15, at the Walter Reade Theater and Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center, the Japan Society and the Asia Society in New York.
"When we talk about Hong Kong culture, Hong Kong movies usually come to people's minds," Anita Chan, director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York, said during a reception at Lincoln Center before the ceremony.
"Not only are Hong Kong movies one of our greatest exports, but they are also our cultural ambassadors," she said to a group of more than 200 business leaders and dignitaries who traveled from Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland and elsewhere in the US to attend the reception.
Hong Kong has one of the largest film industries in the world, ranked first in Asia and third behind Iceland and Estonia in the world's per capita film production in 2011, according to statistics by Screen Digest and the International Monetary Fund.
"Hong Kong has much to be proud of and much still to achieve," Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said during the reception. "Today, cultural and creative industries are identified as one of our most promising and emerging economic sectors."
With a population of more than 7 million and a land mass of 1,104 square kilometers — one-third the size of Rhode Island — Hong Kong boasts more than 36,000 cultural and creative industry-related businesses that employ close to 200,000 people and contribute 4.7 percent of Hong Kong's GDP, according to Hong Kong government research. In 2011, Hong Kong released 56 locally produced films and earned about $37 million in total film exports.
Chan, who has appeared in more than 150 movies, said he prefers directing movies because he has greater freedom in the production process. Prior to his appearance in New York, Chan spent a week with producers in Los Angeles to discuss a script he has been working on for 12 years.