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Hong Kong Filmart: eight films set for works-in-progress lab

Screen previews the projects competing for $43,000 in prize money.

This year sees the launch of a works-in-progress lab at the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) for the first time. It is for near-completed projects by Asian filmmakers seeking post-production funding, sales agents and berths at international festivals.

“We believe there are quite a number of promising projects out there looking for outlets to showcase to the audience worldwide,” says HAF manager Matthew Poon. “But they may not fit the requirements of many project markets because they are already in the post-production stage or even have completed. The WIP lab will help fill this missing gap.”

The lab, which is organised by HAF with Create Hong Kong and Hong Kong’s Film Development Fund, is the first of its kind aimed primarily at East Asian projects (Goa’s Film Bazaar runs a similar lab aimed at Indian and South Asian filmmakers). All the projects in the lab, which takes place from March 13-15, have been assigned individual booths to facilitate private meetings.

The Third Wife

The Third Wife

One of the highlights will be the open pitch session that will be held on March 14. Each WIP team will have a maximum of 20 minutes to present their project and screen up to five minutes of footage to the industry audience of Filmart and HAF delegates.

“Since a large number of Filmart participants are buyers, distributors and sales agents looking for near-finished products, we believe this extension of our services will help them find interesting titles for acquisition and distribution,” says Poon.

There are prizes for the most promising projects: the Wanda WIP Lab Award, the G2D Post-Production Award and the White Light Post-Production Award. The prizes total approximately $43,000 in cash, plus value in-kind.

The lab is open to full-length features and documentaries and has eight projects in its inaugural line-up. In addition to Chinese-language films, the selected projects come from India, Israel, Japan and Vietnam. All have completed filming and are in post-production.

The projects were chosen by Jacob Wong and Roger Garcia, curator and executive director respectively of Hong Kong International Film Festival.

THE PROJECTS

Echoes (Isr)

Dirs Amikam Kovner, Assaf Snir

With a thriller-like plot — an engineer secretly records his wife’s phone calls when he suspects her of having an affair — Echoes is disguised as a detective story. But it is ultimately about love, say the filmmakers. After the sudden death of his wife, the man becomes obsessed with the recorded conversations and realises he is only beginning to get to know his wife after she has gone.

Echoes marks the debut feature of Israeli director Assaf Snir, and the second film of co-director Amikam Kovner. Kovner’s previous film, Haven, screened at Moscow International Film Festival in 2014. Producer Keren Michael’s credits include Self Made, the second feature of Camera d’Or-winning Jellyfish director Shira Geffen.

Contact Keren Michael, dorimediaparan@gmail.com

End Of Summer (China)

End Of Summer

Dir Zhou Quan

Winner of the HAF award in 2015, Chinese director Zhou Quan’s first feature is set in the summer of 1998, when the Chinese government gave permission for the first live broadcast of the football World Cup. The year also marked the beginning of the country’s rapid modernisation process.

Through the story of three men from different generations — a young boy, a middle-aged teacher and a grumpy old man — Zhou hopes to retrieve the collective memory of his 1980s generation and illustrate that coming of age can happen to adults too. End Of Summer is executive produced by Terence Chang and Liao Ching-song, while the music is composed by Hou Hsiao-hsien’s regular collaborator Lim Giong.

Contact Jacqueline W Liu, jacqwlliu@gmail.com

I Miss You When I See You (HK)

Dir Simon Chung

Hong Kong director Simon Chung examines what it means to be gay in seemingly tolerant Hong Kong. His drama follows two old school friends who reconnect following a long separation. But as they rekindle their relationship they are forced to make a choice between following their hearts and conforming to society’s expectations.

The project, selected for HAF in 2014, is produced by Sophia Shek, whose credits include English-language romantic comedy It’s Already Tomorrow In Hong Kong and short documentary Kaspar X — If I Had A Soul. Chung, a founding member of independent film distributor Ying E Chi, directed 2009 Berlinale title End Of Love and Speechless.

Contact Sophia Shek, sophia.shek@gmail.com

I’ve Got The Blues (HK)

Dir Angelina Chen

Following Darling Life, nominated for best documentary at Taiwan’s Golden Horse awards in 2008, and One Tree Three Lives, about novelist Hualing Nieh Engle, Angelina Chen has turned to France-trained Hong Kong painter Wong Yan Kwai for her new documentary.

Chen portrays Wong’s love for his wide-ranging work through interaction with the artist. Inspired by how Wim Wenders introduced Cuban music to the world through Buena Vista Social Club, Chen hopes to introduce Hong Kong’s vibrant underground art scene to the world.

Contact Pamela Lay,pamlay@netvigator.com

Omotenashi (Jap-Tai)

Omotenashi

Dir Jay Chern

Co-produced with Japan’s Shochiku Studio, Omotenashi (the meaning of which references Japanese hospitality) is a romantic comedy about the conflicts of different generations and cultures. Taking place during the renovation of a traditional Japanese hotel in Kyoto, the story follows the son of the hotel’s new Taiwanese owner, who clashes with the original owner’s daughter, while trying to get back together with his Japanese ex-girlfriend.

The film marks the second feature by US-Taiwanese filmmaker Jay Chern, whose acclaimed short Thief won prizes including best short film at the Golden Horse awards in 2011. His first feature, Dawn/Spring, received six nods at the 2014 Golden Bell Awards.

Contact Jay Chern, tiandastudios@gmail.com

The Third Wife (Viet)

Dir Nguyen Phuong Anh

Drawn from true stories, the feature debut of Vietnamese director Nguyen Phuong Anh is a 19th-century period drama set in rural Vietnam. The title character, a newly married 14-year-old girl, has to fight for a place in her new family as her husband’s third wife. However she begins to feel increasingly attracted to the enigmatic second wife.

The project, which won the HAF award in 2016, is produced by Tran Thi Bich Ngoc, whose credits include Big Father, Small Father And Other Stories and The Last Airbender. Vietnam-born, UK-educated Nguyen has developed more than 100 hours of TV broadcast content, from children’s and lifestyle shows to news and travel documentaries, for Vietnamese Broadcasting Corporation.

Contact Tran Thi Bich Ngoc, tbn1977@gmail.com

Village Rockstars (India)

Village Rockstars

Dir Rima Das

The second film by Indian filmmaker Rima Das is about a poor, free-spirited 10-year-old girl who, against prevailing gender stereotypes, forms a band called Rockstars with local boys.

As with her first film Man With The Binoculars, which screened at Jio MAMI Mumbai and Tallinn’s Black Nights last year, Das’s new Assamese-language film was shot in her hometown, a remote village in Assam, northeast India. She takes writer, director and producer credits on the low-budget production.

Contact RimaDas, rima.films@gmail.com

The White Girl (HK)

Dirs Christopher Doyle, Jenny Suen

Co-directed by renowned cinematographer Christopher Doyle and his Hong Kong Trilogy producer Jenny Suen, The White Girl is a noir fairytale revolving around three outsiders: a mysterious artist on the run from the real world, a street kid who dreams of getting rich and a girl who is allergic to the sun.

The setting is a disappearing fishing village in Hong Kong, which will soon be turned into the next goldmine for Chinese property developers. The cast includes Japanese actor Joe Odagiri, Port Of Call’s award-winning star Michael Ning and newcomer Angela Yuen.

Contact Jenny Suen, jenny.suen.hk@gmail.com

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