The 17th Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) has short-listed 23 projects for presentation at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from 18 to 20 March 2019.
Concurrently, HAF announced a new strategic partnership with the Udine, Italy-based Far East Film Festival, as well as two new award sponsors in Heaven Pictures (HK) Culture and Media Co., Ltd. and Artention-Vanke Cultural Industries Corp.
HAF is one of the most prominent film-financing platforms in Asia. It provides an organized structure for filmmakers to meet financiers, producers, bankers, distributors and buyers for potential co-production ventures.
The projects making this year’s short-list, selected from more than 350 submissions, hail from 10 countries and territories across the region, including Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines and South Korea. With production budgets ranging from US$200,000 to US$10 million, they come from established directors of popular mainstream cinema, veteran independent filmmakers and young talent, all of whom seeking funding and industry partners.
“The number of first-time directors, along with returning and established filmmakers, coming to this year’s Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum stands as testament to our ability to help develop and promote cinematic and artistic creativity in the region,” said Jacob WONG, HAF Director. “HAF is also proud to expand its list of partnerships and sponsors, which will offer filmmakers even greater opportunities for financing and contacts with film-industry professionals from around the world.”
Hong Kong Projects to Be Presented
Projects this year include four films from Hong Kong. Barbara WONG Chun-chun – director of the box-office hits Perfect Wedding (2010), The Stolen Years (2013), Girls (2014) and its sequel, Girls vs. Gangsters (2018) – teams up again with producer Gus LIEM for The Wedding Celebrant, a US$10 million romantic drama about a marriage officiant who begins to wonder if she herself has married the right man. In the drama The Secret Diary of a Mom to Be, 2 writer-director LUK Yee-sum’s second feature following Lazy Hazy Crazy (2015), a married corporate-climbing businesswoman finds herself unexpectedly and reluctantly pregnant.
CHEUNG Siu-hong, an award-winning costume designer and production designer for such acclaimed filmmakers such as WONG Kar-wai and Johnnie TO, makes his directorial debut with the drama Solitary Kills, a Hong Kong parable about seven lonely souls interwoven into three stories. Director WONG Hoi celebrates Hong Kong culture with the comedy-drama Wong Tai Sin Assassination, set at one of the territory’s most iconic temples where thousands of worshippers visit annually to hear their fortunes.
Mainland Chinese Directors Unveil Productions
Six projects from Mainland China reflect on family dynamics, tentative love and shifting traditions in a fast-changing society. ZHAO Liang’s new documentary Ship of Fools – Pandora’s Box creates a present day allegory through a visual narrative of both the apocalyptic landscape and human’s daily lives in the ruined areas after nuclear disasters, questing how human trajectory has been, is being and will be changed due to our reliance on nuclear technology. ZHAO Wenjia’s comedy-drama A Story of Hers – based on a chapter from her latest novel, “Ladies” – explores the life of an aspiring journalist as she seeks to become her own person while maintaining the connection she has with her loving but conservative mother. LIU Miaomiao taps her own personal experience with bipolar disorder for 12 x 4, a drama about the self-salvation of a woman stricken with the mental condition in her confrontation with society as a whole. Director Renai WEI Yongyao ventures into the supernatural in his suspense-drama The Priest in the Village, about a cleric caught between a private family matter and community duty.
ZHU Xin describes his second feature, Who is Sleeping on My Pillow, about a disabled painter, his caretaker and a former girlfriend, as a “film in which Southern and Northern China are intertwined, linked by a great waterfall, reconnecting the memories and illusion, just like in Escher’s landscape paintings.” CHEN Cheng’s Through the Crack of the Parallel Universe is an atypical love story set in Beijing about young lovers – a painter and a poet – who work at low-end jobs.
HAF Highlights Projects From Japan and the Philippines
Japanese director HAMAGUCHI Ryusuke, whose Asako I & II screened in the main competition at Cannes last year, returns to the theme of youthful love with his latest project, Our Apprenticeship, about a young woman studying at an arts school in Paris and the international students she encounters. In examining non-traditional sexual orientations, 3 HAMAGUCHI says, “This film tells a story of love and friendships, which also shows that they might be [the] only power to change one’s viewpoint very radically and gently.”
An elderly Chinese woman travelling to Japan in an effort to find the missing Japanese daughter whom she adopted in post-World War II China in mainland is director SONG Pengfei’s Seeing Nara Again; In SATO Yoshinori’s drama Forgiveness, a widow questions her decision to forgive the woman who killed her husband 20 years earlier; KAWAJIRI Masanao’s tentatively-titled animated feature Cherry and Virgin takes a bittersweet look at romance and breakup.
Three previous HAF participants from the Philippines will return to the forum this year: Jun Robles LANA with the survival drama Between Sea and Sky, the true-life story of a Filipino fisherman who was rescued in Papua New Guinea after drifting at sea for 56 days; and Adolfo ALIX JR.’s Circa, about a legendary (and fictional) figure in the Philippine film industry as it prepares to celebrate its centenary. Also from the Philippines, another real-life drama: The Grandstand from Mikhail RED, about the 2010 Manila hostage crisis, in which a disgruntled police officer seized a bus filled with Hong Kong tourists.
Taiwanese Hip-Hop, South Korean Suspense and the Rohingya Crisis in Bangladesh
Director Tom LIN Shu-Yu’s musical biography looks at the life of Taiwanese rapper Shawn “M80” Sung, who died of cancer in 2002, and his younger brother Ting, both living in Los Angeles as parachute kids, and how he came to create the most famous Mandarin hip-hop song in history, Life’s a Struggle, from which the film gets its title.
Following her debut film A Haunting Hitchhike (2017), JEONG Hee-jae returns with Living, an action-suspense drama about a female contract killer who decides to protect her target’s daughter and finds herself on the run from gangsters.
Abid Hossain KHAN examines the tragedy of the Muslim-majority Rohingya people in Belonging, his debut documentary that follows 6-year-old Nushaida as she starts a journey to find her parents at refugee camps in Bangladesh after becoming separated from them while fleeing Myanmar.
That’s Amore: A New Partnership, Two New Awards, and other Prizes
The Far East Film Festival (FEFF) in Udine, Italy, now in its 21st year, joins with HAF for a new strategic partnership in which organizers of the largest film festival in Europe devoted entirely to popular Asian cinema will select one project from this year’s HAF for presentation 4 at Focus Asia, FEFF’s project market that is dedicated to “films of tomorrow,” with the potential for co-production and co-financing in Europe or Asia.
“We are thrilled about our new partnership with HAF, and we are looking forward to selecting the project that will be presented in Udine next April,” said Sabrina BARACETTI, President of the Far East Film Festival. “This new collaboration will strengthen even more the connections between the industries of our two continents. We think that this will be just the beginning of a new fruitful collaboration.”
HAF is also proud to announce two new award sponsors in Heaven Pictures (HK) Culture and Media Co., Ltd. and Artention-Vanke Cultural Industries Corp.,a joint venture between Artention Group and Vanke Group.
Heaven Pictures (HK) Culture and Media Co., Ltd. will present the Heaven Pictures Young Director Award which aims to encourage young Hong Kong directors to create local-themed projects with unique personal style. The winner will receive a cash prize of HK$150,000. “Hong Kong International Film Festival and HAF have been supporting and promoting Chinese young filmmakers and China’s film scene for a long time. It’s time that we contribute something in return by setting up this award, with the aim of nurturing young Hong Kong filmmakers as well as encouraging quality local productions such as A Simple Life, which reflects Hong Kong’s current phenomenon and people experiences under the city’s economic and social changes”, LOU Weihua, Chairman of Heaven Pictures noted.
Artention-Vanke Cultural Industries Corp. will present the Artention-Vanke Film Award which aims to encourage the development of film projects that exhibit both commercial and artistic qualities, thereby identifying and supporting more outstanding young filmmakers and film projects. In addition to a cash prize of HK$100,000, the winning project will also receive free access to designated space in the Artention-Vanke Creative Arts Incubator in Shenzhen, China, getting fully linked with high-quality resources from Artention and Vanke, to create world-renowned projects.
Other returning award sponsors include the Wouter Barendrecht Film Foundation; China Film Foundation-Wu Tianming Fund for Young Talents; White Light Studio; G2D Co. Ltd.; the Network of Asian Fantastic Films (NAFF) of the BiFan Industry Gathering; and mm2 Asia Limited.
- 12 x 4 12 乘 4
Director 导演：LIU Miaomiao 刘苗苗
Producer 监制：TIAN Zhuangzhuang 田壮壮, ZHAO Jin 赵晋, CAO Liuying 曹柳莺
Production Company 制作公司：MIDNIGHT BLUR FILMS 午夜失焦(杭州)文化传播有限公司
- Away We Go 离岛
Malaysia 马来西亚, Taiwan 台湾, Hong Kong 香港
Director 导演：KANG Sze Wen 江诗雯
Producer 监制：WONG Kew Soon 黄巧顺
Production Company 制作公司：Janji Pictures 匠子映画
Director 导演：Abid Hossain KHAN
Producer 监制：Rubaiyat HOSSAIN, Aadnan Imtiaz AHMED
Production Company 制作公司：Khona Talkies
- Between Sea and Sky
Director 导演：Jun Robles LANA
Producer 监制：Ferdinand LAPUZ
Production Company 制作公司：The IdeaFirst Company
- Cherry and Virgin
Director 导演：KAWAJIRI Masanao 川尻将由
Producer 监制：NAKAMURA Yosuke 中村阳介
Production Company 制作公司：Nekonigashi.inc
Director 导演：Adolfo ALIX JR.
Producer 监制：Didier COSTET
Production Company 制作公司：Swift Productions
Director 导演：SATO Yoshinori 佐藤庆纪
Producer 监制：SUZUKI Masaki 铃木雅贵
Production Company 制作公司：Aerial Films
- The Grandstand
Director 导演：Mikhail RED
Producer 监制：Pauline ZAMORA
Production Company 制作公司：Globe Studios
- I Wish I Could Hibernate
Director 导演：Zoljargal PUREVDASH
Producer 监制：TAN Chui Mui 陈翠梅, Dulguun BAYASGALAN
Production Company 制作公司：Da Huang Pictures 大荒电影, No Wonder Films
- Life’s a Struggle 宋岳庭传
Director 导演：Tom LIN Shu-Yu 林书宇
Producer 监制：Emma LIN Mei-Lun 林媄伦
Production Company 制作公司：M80 Film Co., Ltd. 宋岳庭传电影有限公司
South Korea 南韩
Director 导演：JEONG Hee-jae 郑喜在
Producer 监制：KIM Ji-yeon 金智连
Production Company 制作公司：Breathe Film, Crankup Film
- Our Apprenticeship
Director 导演：HAMAGUCHI Ryusuke 滨口龙介
Producer 监制：YAMAMOTO Teruhisa 山本晃久
Production Company 制作公司：C&I Entertainment Co., Ltd.
- Pandora’s Box 潘多拉魔盒
China 中国, France 法国
Director 导演：ZHAO Liang 赵亮
Producer 监制：ZHAO Liang 赵亮, Serge LALOU 塞尔日‧拉鲁, Ruby CHEN 陈玲珍
Production Company 制作公司：Zhao’s Image Production Limited 杞人影像
- The Priest in the Village 大祭司
Director 导演：Renai WEI Yongyao 韦永垚
Producer 监制：ZHAO Jin 赵晋, XU Jiahan 徐佳含
Production Company 制作公司：MIDNIGHT BLUR FILMS 午夜失焦(杭州)文化传播有限公 司
- The Secret Diary of a Mom To Be BB 复仇记
Hong Kong 香港
Director 导演：LUK Yee-sum 陆以心
Producer 监制：Jacqueline LIU Yuen-hung 廖婉虹
Production Company 制作公司：One Cool Film Production Limited 天下一电影制作有限公司
- Seeing Nara Again 又见奈良
Director 导演：SONG Pengfei 鹏飞
Producer 监制：KAWASE Naomi 河濑直美
Production Company 制作公司：Nara International Film Festival Organizing Committee 奈良国际电影节
- Solitary Kills 寂寞有害
Hong Kong 香港
Director 导演：CHEUNG Siu-hong 张兆康
Producer 监制：WANG Jing 王婧
Production Company 制作公司：East Eighteen Limited 东十八有限公司
- A Story of HERS 太后与我
Director 导演：ZHAO Wenjia 赵文佳
Producer 监制：Homber YIN 尹红波
Production Company 制作公司：Haining Sunshine Films Limited 海宁盛夏影业有限公司
- Through the Cracks of the Parallel Universe 穿过平行宇宙的缝隙
Director 导演：CHEN Cheng 陈橙
Producer 监制：HU Mengchu 胡梦楚
Production Company 制作公司：Lumieria Pictures 昭融电影公司
- The Wedding Celebrant 证婚人
Hong Kong 香港
Director 导演：Barbara WONG Chun-chun 黄真真
Producer 监制：Gus LIEM 林克仁
Production Company 制作公司：Real Pictures Entertainment 真•映画
- Who is Sleeping on My Pillow? 晚歌
Director 导演：ZHU Xin 祝新
Producer 监制：ZHANG Lu 张律, ZHAO Jin 赵晋, CAO Liuying 曹柳莺
Production Company 制作公司：MIDNIGHT BLUR FILMS 午夜失焦(杭州)文化传播有限公司
- Wong Tai Sin Assassination 刺杀黄大仙
Hong Kong 香港
Director 导演：WONG Hoi 黄锎
Producer 监制：Derek KWOK Tsz-kin 郭子健
Production Company 制作公司：12 Production 实现工作室
Director 导演：Arsalan AMIRI
Producer 监制：Ida PANAHANDEH, Yoshie Ruth LINTON (Co-Producer)
Production Company 制作公司：Evareh Film Studio