February 8, 2018
By Ang Yi An
HONG KONG, CHINA – 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.
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 Watchel’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