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Monday, 5 February 2018, 16:00 HKT/SGT
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Source: Hong Kong - Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF)
The 16th Hong Kong - Asia Film Financing Forum announces new projects; Three new countries to be represented for the first time this year

HONG KONG, Feb 5, 2018 - (Media OutReach) - The 16th Hong Kong - Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) announced its lineup of 25 film projects to be presented from 19 to 21 March 2018 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The projects were selected out of more than 360 submissions from 41 countries and regions, including Australia, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Kazakhstan, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States of America and Vietnam.

HAF is one of the most prominent film-financing platforms in Asia and provides a forum to connect filmmakers and their new projects with internationally established film financiers, producers, bankers, distributors, buyers and funders for potential co-production ventures. The successful shortlisted projects come from a richly diverse field of filmmakers - young and established alike - seeking partners and funding. This year's selections also include projects from three countries that will be represented for the first time at HAF: Cambodia, Mongolia and Russia.

"As we welcome projects from all over Asia and other parts of the world, we are particularly pleased to see filmmakers from three countries new to the Hong Kong - Asia Film Financing Forum find a showcase for their works," said Jacob WONG, Curator of the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society and Director of the HAF. "In reviewing hundreds of submissions, it was encouraging to see a talented group of directors seeking to tell their stories in the universal language of film."

Five Hong Kong projects to be presented

Five projects from Hong Kong are among this year's short list: Deadline, a suspense-drama about a group of seven secondary-school students facing exam pressures and issuing a suicide pact, from director Kiwi CHOW. CHOW's first feature film, A Complicated Story (2013), which was presented by the powerhouse team of producers Johnnie TO and Bill KONG, was selected for the 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival. CHOW also directed the "Self-immolator" segment of Ten Years (2015), which won Best Film at the 35th Hong Kong Film Awards.

Director CHAN Ying-wai's coming-of-age drama I Promised follows a teenage boy as he experiences desires and responsibilities, sweetness and cruelty in the aftermath of a tragic event; YUEN Han-yan's documentary Love in the Valley of Daughters explores the love story and cultural differences between a city woman and a man from a matriarchal society in China's Yunnan Province; film-industry veteran O Sing-pui's romantic comedy-drama Sex is Guilt looks at death and sex, and asks which of the two is the greatest fear? The comedy While You Were Working from director LEUNG Ming-kai looks at a retired Hong Kong singer and her American neighbor who help a Filipino worker prepare for a singing competition.

Three countries to be represented at HAF for the first time

HAF is proud to announce four film projects from Cambodia, Mongolia and Russia - three countries that will be represented at the event for the first time. From Cambodia, Jake WACHTEL's suspense-drama In the Next Life follows a young teenage girl living in Phnom Penh's slums who investigates a boy's past-life visions and uncovers a sinister conspiracy of literal, scientific reincarnation. In Twist of Fate, director Baasanjargal Orgodol of Mongolia seeks to genuinely portray the "true reality" of nomadic Mongols in his drama about a woman who marries twin brothers, and whose unconventional life leads to conflict and death.

Two projects from Russia look at love, marriage and betrayal. Set in Kyrgyzstan, Far Frontiers from director Maxim DASHKIN explores the complicated relationship between faith and fidelity in his drama about the wife of a military commander who begins an affair with another officer. Tajikistan-born filmmaker Nigina SAYFULLAEVA's Revnost examines the motivations of a woman who suspects her husband of having an affair and exacts revenge by entering sexual relationships with other men.

New projects from award-winning filmmakers and three Indonesian directors

Among this year's short list are five established and award-winning directors presenting their latest projects. In mainland Chinese filmmaker Emily TANG's A Man Used to Stay at My Room, a young disabled woman seeking to break away from a loveless marriage finds fame as a poet. TANG's Perfect Life (2008) won the Tigers & Dragons Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival and the Golden Digital Award at the Hong Kong International Film Festival. Mainland director LIU Jian's third animated feature, following Piercing (2010) and Have a Nice Day (2017), is Art College, a bitter-sweet look at youth, love and school life of two art students in the 1990s.

The Big Picture, the new project from E J-yong - the critically acclaimed South Korean director of Bacchus Lady (2016), Actresses (2009) and Scandal (2003) - follows a lawyer facing a mid-life crisis and who accidentally kills a man and steals his identity to realize his failed dream to become a photographer. Naive Melody from Taiwan-based director Arvin CHEN, whose feature debut Au Revoir Taipei (2010) won the Asian Film Award at the Berlin Film Festival, is about an introverted young man who visits a brothel to lose his virginity, but instead falls into a complicated relationship with the brothel's much older mama-san. In A Mountain Splits, Japanese director TOMINA Tetsuya explores the conflict and dilemma between "the visible" and "the invisible," which live in the same world yet are unable to intersect.

A trio of projects from Indonesia include Tale of the Land from Loeloe HENDRA, about indigenous populations facing threats to their way of life; Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash, from Edwin, which takes aim at a society ruled by machismo and patriarchy; and Eddie CAHYONO's IMAH, which follows a fisherman searching for his wife's killer.

Awards and special prizes

The 16th HAF is proud to present a number of awards and cash prizes from several returning sponsors, including mm2 Asia Limited, which will be back for a second year after its inaugural prize in 2017. The award seeks to encourage and support Chinese-language film projects with a cash prize of HK$100,000.

Other returning award sponsors include the Wouter Barendrecht Film Foundation; China Film Foundation - Wutianming Fund For Young Talents; White Light Studio; G2D Co. Ltd.; and the Network of Asian Fantastic Films (NAFF) of the BiFan Industry Gathering.

Shortlisted Projects for the Work-in-Progress Lab

The 16th Hong Kong - Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) unveiled the 10 shortlisted projects for the Work-in-Progress Lab (WIP Lab), an initiative to help filmmakers secure post-production funds, sales agents and film festival support. The event will take place on 19 March 2018 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre as part of HAF.

HAF is one of Asia's most important film-financing forums, providing a platform for projects in the pre-production or development stages. The WIP Lab further extends the services of HAF by offering a platform for late-stage projects seeking closing funds, post-production partners, distributors, sales agents, festivals and other film-industry services.

The 10 shortlisted projects, which were chosen from 141 WIP Lab submissions, are required to have completed or nearly completed shooting or production. This year's projects include five films from Asia and five from diverse countries around the world.

Shortlisted Projects by Established and New Filmmakers

From Hong Kong, award-winning independent filmmaker Fruit CHAN (Made in Hong Kong, 1997; The Longest Summer, 1998; Little Cheung, 1999) serves as producer of director Oliver CHAN Siu-kuen's feature film debut, Still Human, about a paralyzed man and his Filipina domestic worker who strive to overcome their cultural differences and personal hardships.

Two dramas from mainland China explore families in conflict. Director HUANG Zi's first feature, From Black and White to Shades of Grey, which was previously selected at HAF 2014, looks at the agonizing trauma placed on a family when the father is diagnosed with cancer. In ZHAI Yixiang's Mosaic Portrait, a journalist investigates the rape of a teenage girl in a remote village. The project won the Million-Dollar Grand Prize of Taipei Golden Horse Film Project Promotion in 2016.

Three Russian films take on social issues confronting the lives of ordinary people. In director Sergey DVORTSEVOY's The Little One, an illegal immigrant woman from Kyrgyzstan working in Moscow attempts to find her abandoned baby. In The Pencil by Natalya NAZAROVA, a teacher defends her students against a gang leader. Co-directors Natalya MERKULOVA and Alexey CHUPOV offer a parable about a man who attempts to deceive death by changing his sex in The Man Who Surprised Everyone, a co-production with France and Estonia.

Two feature debuts by Asian filmmakers are also on the WIP Lab short list. Japanese director SAKAHARA Atsushi's documentary, AGANAI - The Atonement, looks at his personal experience as a victim of the sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, which killed 13 people, injured nearly 6,000 and made headlines around the world. Bhutanese director Tashi GYELTSHEN describes The Red Phallus as "about the paradox of being a human".

Bulgarian director Svetla TSOTSORKOVA's drama Sister tells "the story of how one girl becomes a woman," and how she learns that if one wants to stay human, sacrifices must be made. From Panama, Felix GUARDIA's animated feature The Sorcerer is a wild journey through the absurd and surrealist universe of Panamanian artist Julio Zachrisson.

Post-Production Awards

In addition to meetings with potential partners and investors during HAF, WIP Lab shortlisted projects are also entitled to compete for three post-production awards: the Wanda WIP Lab Award presented by Wanda Media Co. Ltd., offering a cash price of HK$100,000 (approx. US$12,800) to encourage the development of outstanding cinema; the G2D Post-Production Award and the White Light Post-Production Award each offering in-kind post-production services that is worth US$15,000 respectively (approx. HK$117,300 each).

The "HAF Goes to Cannes" Program

For the second consecutive year, HAF will collaborate with Marche du Film, Festival de Cannes, to present an important program offering market screening and pitch opportunities for up to five projects at this year's Cannes Film Festival in May. "HAF Goes to Cannes" presents opportunities for filmmakers to look for sales agents, distributors and film festivals. Priority will be given to WIP Lab projects. Beijing Nicefilm Technology Co.,Ltd., a TV and film production company in China, will provide a traveling subsidy of HK$100,000 in total to the projects selected for "HAF Goes to Cannes".

"The increase in applications this year and the 10 selected shortlisted film projects reflect the growing interest by filmmakers in Asia and from around the world in the Hong Kong - Asia Film Financing Forum's Work-in-Progress Lab," said Mr. Jacob WONG, Curator of the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society and Director of the HAF. "These exceptional projects represent a wide variety of cultures, languages and societies, and HAF is proud to offer a platform for these filmmakers to present their works to film-industry professsionals," WONG said. "In addition, we look forward to working again with Marche du Film and offering a showcase for these independent filmmakers at Cannes this May."

Guest and media accreditation for HAF

Investors, financiers and other film-industry guests are now able to register for HAF at https://www.haf.org.hk/guest.php and schedule individual meetings with filmmakers to discuss their projects. Guests will be given access to HAF, in addition to joining our official networking events, screenings, seminars or other activities.

Registration for the event among members of the media began on 22 January, with further details here: http://www.hkiff.org.hk/

A complete list of the selected WIP Lab projects for the 16th HAF can be found in Appendix. For more information about HAF, please visit the official website at http://www.haf.org.hk/ and the HAF Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hafhkiffs/.

About Hong Kong - Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF)

The Hong Kong - Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) is widely recognized as an established film financing platform in Asia. HAF brings Asian filmmakers with upcoming film projects to Hong Kong for co-production ventures with top film financiers, producers, bankers, distributors and buyers. Attracting more than 1,000 filmmakers and financiers from at least 35 countries and regions, around 25 to 30 projects are selected annually to participate in the three-day event. HAF has the added advantage of being held in conjunction with Hong Kong Filmart, Asia's largest film market which attracts over 8,000 professionals.

HAF has partnered with international organisations to provide a range of opportunities to participants. Partners include iQIYI (China), Fox International Productions (Greater China) (US), Cinemart (the Netherlands), Asian Project Market (South Korea), Golden Horse Film Project Promotion (Taiwan), New Cinema Network (Italy) and others. Cash and in-kind awards to the value of around US$150,000 are made with support from Create Hong Kong and Film Development Fund among others.

Past participants include China's JIA Jiangke, JIANG Wen, LU Chuan and NING Hao; Hong Kong's Peter CHAN, Stanley KWAN, Ann HUI, Fruit CHAN and PANG Ho-cheung; Taiwan's TSAI Ming-Liang, WEI Te-Sheng, CHUNG Mong-Hong and Leon DAI; Japan's KORE-EDA Hirokazu, KUROSAWA Kiyoshi, KAWASE Naomi and IWAI Shunji; South Korea's PARK Chan-wook, KIM Jee-woon, BONG Joon-ho and IM Sang-soo; as well as Thailand's Apichatpong WEERASETHAKUL, Ekachai UEKRONGTHAM, Nonzee NIMIBUTR and Pen-ek RATANARUANG.

About The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society Limited

The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society Limited (HKIFFS/Society) is a charitable, non-profit and non-governmental organisation dedicated to the discovery and promotion of creativity in the art and culture of film.

The Society is committed to making world cinema accessible and affordable to the public. It organizes the annual flagship the Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) and the Hong Kong - Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) in March and April. Another annual highlight is the Summer International Film Festival (SummerIFF) held every August. The repertory HKIFF Cine Fan Programme was launched in April 2013 with the aim to enrich and deepen the experience of Hong Kong moviegoers through a monthly programme of contemporary, retrospective and thematic showcases.

Through its annual programmes, the Society promotes international appreciation of Asian, Hong Kong and Chinese film culture; introduces world cinema to Hong Kong audiences; and continues to underline Hong Kong's key position in the international film community.

HKIFFS's dedication to quality and intelligent programming, its devotion to the discovery of new areas of filmmaking in Asia and China, its exceptional work for Hong Kong cinema, seminars and acclaimed publications, gives it a unique and respected international reputation that helps promote Hong Kong cinema at home and abroad.

For media enquiries, please contact:

VT Comms
Ms. Alice Au Yeung
Phone: (852) 2787 0706 / (852) 9887 9387
E-mail: [email protected]

Ms. Yuki Fong
Phone: (852) 2787 0220 / (852) 6098 1568
E-mail: [email protected]

HAF
Mr. Matthew Poon
Phone: (852) 2102 7375
E-mail: [email protected]

Appendix: http://www.acnnewswire.com/clientreports/598/HAF2018.pdf

Topic: Press release summary

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