Profiles of projects from the 12th Hong Kong - Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF).

A Nail Clipper Romance

Dir Jason Kwan

Project’s country of origin Hong Kong

Hong Kong DoP Jason Kwan is set to make his directorial debut on A Nail Clipper Romance, starring Chinese-Canadian actor Shawn Dou.

The story is based on The Nail Clipper Monster, the pioneering microfilm produced by maverick film-maker Pang Ho Cheung’s Making Film Productions in collaboration with Samsung and Sina, which achieved more than 400 million hits within two months of its online launch in 2010.

Unlike its inspiration, which is more of a serious drama, the new project is a romantic comedy with a light-hearted plot. Dou, who made his acting debut in Zhang Yimou’s 2010 Under The Hawthorn Tree, plays a womanising young man from Honolulu’s Chinatown whose life is turned upside down after falling for a mysterious woman with an unusual appetite, who wants to open a restaurant that serves nail clippers.

Filming will take place in Hawaii. “A Chinese story is not necessarily set in a Chinese region. Hawaii has a 4.7% Chinese-speaking population but hardly any Chinese films have been set there. I believe this will be a refreshing experience for our audience,” said Kwan.

The screenplay is by Luk Yee Sum, whose writing credits include Pang’s box-office hits Love In The Buff and Vulgaria. Both were shot by Kwan and produced by Pang and his partner Subi Liang. The pair serve as producers of the new project.

Kwan has built up a large portfolio, from music videos and TV commercials to films, over the past two decades. His other recent work as DoP includes Cold War, As The Light Goes Out and Pang’s Aberdeen, which opens this year’s Hong Kong International Film Festival.

WY Wong

  • Producers Pang Ho Cheung, Subi Liang
  • Production company Making Film Productions
  • Budget $4.9m
  • Finance raised to date $3m from Making Film Productions
  • Contact Subi Liang

Dance Of Death

Dir Hitoshi Kitagawa

Project’s country of origin Japan

Japanese director Hitoshi Kitagawa is in pre-production with his HAF project Dance Of Death. The story follows a man who, 30 years after murdering his love rival, brings his wife and daughter to the village Bon festival, declaring that he will dance unto death to atone for the crime.

“I was born as the son of a Buddhist priest and have been constantly aware of death since childhood. At some point in my life, I became obsessed with the idea that the most beautiful way to die is to prove your love by death,” says Kitagawa.

The director’s previous films include Damn Life, which won the Grand Prize at Pia Film Festival and was in Busan’s New Currents competition as well as Tokyo’s Japanese Eyes section. His short, A Fallen Apple, played in Cannes.

Kitagawa says Dance Of Death will be in line with his previous films in the sense that “something beyond good and evil, and human sinful nature, will be portrayed”. But this time he will also depict love through the body of a man dancing, which is both physically and visually captivating.

He adds that the film could be shot anywhere in the world. “I think it would be best if something typical of the region, such as historical landscape, local culture and residents’ faces, add atmosphere to the film,” he says.

Producer Akiko Yukawa, whose credits include Suite Dreams and A Fallen Apple, says they are looking for an appropriately charismatic dancer/actor, who is tough in body and spirit, and they are “not limited to Japan”.

Production company and music ltd publishes music and produces films and videos such as Kazuhiko Ogura’s Tokyo Komaotoshi.

Jean Noh

  • Producer Yukawa Akiko
  • Production company and music ltd
  • Budget $100,000
  • Finance raised to date $10,000 (from and music ltd)
  • Contact Yukawa Akiko

Hip Hop Kabul

Dir Fazila Amiri

Project’s country of origin Afghanistan

Hip Hop Kabul is a documentary feature that tells of the struggles and dreams of Afghanistan’s first female rapper, Paradise Sorouri. Over the course of two years, the film follows her courageous, emotional and thought-provoking musical journey in the patriarchal society of Afghanistan.

“We have been documenting her live performances at major international concerts. Through this film I aim to promote her as a female role model challenging the traditional role of Afghan women and introducing Afghan rap as a new genre of artistic expression in Afghanistan,” says director Fazila Amiri.

Most of the film has been shot in Kabul and other cities in Afghanistan including Jalalabad, Herat and Bamiyan. Amiri is seeking funds to complete the final 30 days of shooting, followed by post-production.

Amiri’s short films Paaizeb and Gerreh screened at Montreal World Film Festival 2010 and Atlantic Film Festival 2011 respectively; Hip Hop Kabul is her first feature documentary.

Hong-Kong born producer Paul Lee is producing the film under Kabuli Camera, a production company founded in Afghanistan in 2013 to present contemporary views of Afghanistan to both the national and a larger international audience.

Lee has previously directed and produced short films such as Thick Lips Thin Lips (1994), which won a silver award at Hong Kong Independent Short Film and Video Awards, and The Offering (1999), which screened at Berlin International Film Festival. He also made documentary These Shoes Weren’t Made For Walking, which screened at Chicago International Film Festival in 1995. Hip Hop Kabul is Kabuli Camera’s first project.

Nandita Dutta

  • Producer Paul Lee
  • Production company Kabuli Camera
  • Budget $250,000
  • Finance raised to date $20,000
  • Contact Fazila Amiri

I Miss You When I See You

Dir Simon Chung

Project’s country of origin Hong Kong

Hong Kong director Simon Chung’s I Miss You When I See You looks at the reconnection of two old school friends after a long separation. Although they are now worlds apart - one is a successful professional in Hong Kong and the other, in Canada, suffers from depression - their rekindled gay relationship unleashes a complex set of emotions.

“The story can be seen as a summation of some of the themes and preoccupations that I’ve been developing in my work over the past 15 years,” says Chung. “For example, the two main characters are named after the leads in my short, Stanley Beloved, and the storyline can be seen as an attempt to probe the fate of these characters 15 years later.” Chung started writing the script two years ago and it is now in its fifth draft. Although it will be shot on location in Hong Kong and Vancouver, the film has a modest budget of $300,000, including a grant received from Hong Kong Arts Development Council last year.

Chung is working for the first time with Jacqueline Liu, who is producing through her new production company Playhouse. Her previous producer’s credits include Butterfly, August Story and Plastic City.

After graduating from Toronto’s York University, Chung has worked in various capacities in Hong Kong’s film and TV industry. His short films have earned him multiple international film awards, while his feature works include Innocent, End Of Love, which premiered at Berlin in 2009, and more recently Speechless. He is also a founding member of independent film distributor Ying E Chi.

WY Wong

  • Producers Jacqueline Liu
  • Production companies Playhouse
  • Budget $300,000
  • Finance raised to date $64,000 from Hong Kong Arts Development Council
  • Contact Simon Chung

The Honeygiver Among The Dogs

Dir Dechen Roder

Project’s country of origin Bhutan

The Honeygiver Among The Dogs is a mystery-drama as well as a love story between an undercover detective, Kinley, investigating the case of a missing Buddhist nun in a remote village in Bhutan, and his only suspect, Choden, a young woman labelled the village ‘demoness’ due to her solitary and seductive ways.

Kinley soon finds himself torn between suspicion and intense attraction to Choden. He slowly realises her stories of historical dakinis (enlightened Buddhist women of supernatural powers and wisdom) might provide the clues needed to complete the investigation. Currently in pre-production, the film will be shot in Bhutan’s capital Thimpu and a small village in central Bhutan.

“The film brings to light lesser-known stories of historical women from our culture, so it’s very specific and yet has universal themes of mystery, compassion and finding your ‘truth’,” explains Roder, who is looking for international funding and distribution at HAF. “Many of the investigative tools used by the detective are not at all scientific but based on visions, stories and intuition.” After making several short films, The Honeygiver Among The Dogs marks Roder’s feature debut. Her short film Original Photocopy Of Happiness was screened at Brussels International Independent Film Festival in 2011 and won a special jury mention at Hong Kong Independent Film & Video Awards in 2012.

Bhutan-based Dakinny Productions, founded by Roder in 2009, is producing the film. The male lead, Kinley, will be played by Bhutanese actor Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk, who played the 14-year-old Dalai Lama in Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Seven Years In Tibet (1997).

Nandita Dutta

  • Producers Dechen Roder
  • Production company Dakinny Productions
  • Budget $90,000
  • Finance raised to date $10,000 (from Dakinny Productions)
  • Contact Dechen Roder

The Sea

Dir Philip Yung

Project’s country of origin Hong Kong

Hong Kong director Philip Yung deals with the real-life massacre that took place on board a Chinese fishing boat, Lu Rong Yu no. 2682, in his new project The Sea.

The story follows the 30 men who set sail from northern China on a two-year fishing voyage at the end of 2010. Their long and lonely trip was cut short when some of the men, dissatisfied with their pay and working conditions, turned against the ship’s captain. The mutiny triggered a series of cold-blooded killings lasting six months, after which only 11 of the men returned alive.

Screenwriter San Shi carefully researched the tragedy and completed a first draft of the script. She feels she has a connection to the crew members, who came from near her birthplace in Shandong province.

Yung says he was shocked when he first heard the story from her. “The storytelling will be precise yet poetic in portraying the nightmare-like reality on board the ship,” he says.

Xstream Pictures’ Chow Keung, who regularly collaborates with Chinese film-makers Jia Zhangke and Yu Lik Wai, will produce the film. Since 1997, Chow has produced 28 Chinese films and documentaries with co-producers worldwide, including Jia’s Still Life, which won the Golden Lion at Venice in 2006.

Yung is currently prepping his third feature, Port Of Call, winner of the

2011 HAF award for a Hong Kong project, with production scheduled to start later this year. His previous works include Glamorous Youth, May We Chat and documentary All Right With The World, while his recent writing credits include Rigor Mortis and As The Light Goes Out.

WY Wong

Instant Love

Dir Yang Jin

Project’s country of origin China

Inspired by his love for Japan, Chinese writer-director Yang Jin has chosen Tokyo as the main location for his new project, Instant Love. The story follows a 40-year-old Chinese film director who attends a film festival in Tokyo and falls for a Japanese girl after saving her from jumping under a train.

Yang’s widely travelled and award-winning films, such as The Black And White Milk Cow and Er Dong, have taken the film-maker to many countries but Japan has a special place in his heart. “People will open up after a few days in many passionate cities. But Japanese people always keep a distance, with a slight bow. I want to know what the Japanese are like when they fall in love,” says Yang.

With a $1.65m budget, Instant Love will be Yang’s biggest to date. Unlike his earlier documentary-style dramas, it will also be his first love story and his first film made outside China. The project will be produced by Yang’s regular collaborator, Zhang Jun, who produced his last three films through their jointly owned Beijing-based production company HI Film. Both are originally from Shanxi province.

Zhang has brought on board an as-yet-unnamed Japanese producer who has experience of filming Chinese productions in Japan. She is seeking Japanese investors for the project as well as Japanese talents for three roles in the film. The Chinese cast will include real-life Chinese directors and producers. The film will be mostly Chinese language with some Japanese dialogue.

Beijing-based Heaven Pictures Culture & Media, which has a director’s contract with Yang, has boarded the project as a financier. Established in 2010 to support young Chinese film-makers, the company produced Yang’s most recent film, Don’t Expect Praises (2012).

WY Wong

  • Producers Zhang Jun
  • Production companies HI Film
  • Budget $1.65m
  • Finance raised to date $329,400 from Heaven Pictures
  • Contact Zhang Jun

Follow You

Dir Lin Yu Hsien

Project’s country of origin China

Follow You will reunite Jump Ashin! director Lin Yu Hsien with his leading man Eddie Peng in a real-life love story about two newly met friends who embark on a road trip from Lhasa to Everest. Although they part after the trip, one of them travels to four cities to look for the other again and they end up being married in London.

Starring opposite Peng is Chinese actress Yang Zishan, who shot to fame in Vicky Zhao’s 2013 hit So Young. The screenplay is adapted from the book Love In Tibet by Wang Kuo Kuang, who previously worked with Lin as a writer on Jump Ashin! and his feature debut, Exit No.6.

“It really is true belief when you’re not swayed by worldly considerations and you give up your career and follow your heart to look for the girl you barely met. I think films are about belief, too, and I want to keep such a belief in myself and in my films,” says Lin.

The various filming locations include Hong Kong, Beijing, London, Dali in China’s Yunnan province and Tibet. This will be the first time the director has made a film outside his native Taiwan.

Lin is well known for his documentary style: his Jump! Boys won the best documentary prize at Golden Horse Film Festival in 2005, while the follow-up feature, Jump Ashin!, picked up several awards, including best supporting actor at both Taipei Film Festival in 2011 and the Asian Film Awards in 2012.

Lin’s producer is Hong Kong film-maker Stanley Kwan, whose recent producer credits include So Young. One of the major backers is Phoenix Legend Films, the Beijing-based producer-distributor that recently produced Jay Sun’s Switch and Li Fangfang’s Wu Wen Xi Dong, starring Zhang Ziyi.

WY Wong

  • Producers Stanley Kwan
  • Production companies Phoenix Legend Films
  • Budget $5m
  • Finance raised to date $3m from Phoenix Legend Films
  • Contact Yu Hao

Gay Messiah

Dir Brillante Mendoza

Project’s country of origin Philippines

Award-winning Filipino director Brillante Mendoza is bringing his first documentary/drama project, Gay Messiah, to HAF.

Comparing it to his other works, such as Kinatay and Thy Womb, Mendoza says: “All the films I did before were fiction. All were based on real-life stories, but this time the real guy plays himself.”

For five years, the director has been filming Ferdinand Santos, a gay man who has for more than two decades played Jesus Christ in an annual six-day Lent play. Mendoza goes behind the scenes of the hugely celebrated religious holiday in the Philippines, asking questions about Filipinos’ contemporary relationship with Catholicism.

“It’s a documentary, but we’re also recreating. So it’s a docudrama,” says Mendoza. “There’s a narrative behind it. There are some things we tried to recreate, but what we did film was mostly the performances and the stage because I wanted to get footage.”

Mendoza adds that, after five years, this could be the year to finally wrap shooting and begin post-production. “Maybe this year is the final stage of this guy’s story. A lot of major things happened, from the national level to the personal. We have a new president. The former president died. And this guy was witness to this happening. Also his mother passed away. By March, it will be holy week again. It really depends because it’s a documentary and I really don’t know what’s going to happen.”

CenterStage Productions, which produced all Mendoza’s films in the Philippines, is also producing Gay Messiah. The film-makers will be at HAF looking for funds and co-producers.

Jean Noh

  • Producers Larry Castillo, Brillante Mendoza
  • Production company Center Stage Productions (CSP)
  • Budget $500,000
  • Finance raised to date $100,000 from CSP
  • Contact Brillante Mendoza

Lucy And I

Dirs Sherman Ong, Birgitte Sigmundstad

Project’s countries of origin Singapore-Norway

Singapore-based Malaysian director Sherman Ong and Norwegian director Birgitte Sigmundstad met at the cross-cultural project development programme DOX:LAB, organised by CPH:DOX, in 2013 and have been working on Lucy And I ever since.

Both with backgrounds in visual arts, they are creating a mix of documentary and fiction in what Ong describes as a film essay exploring homeland, origin, travel, migration and diaspora through its characters.

“Birgitte will shoot in Norway and I will shoot in Singapore. One episode/monologue will answer or complement the other. It will be like improvised jazz where Norway will throw a bar of music to Singapore and Singapore will reply with another bar,” explains Ong.

With a mix of actors and ‘real people’, the characters in the film include Sigmundstad, who has a young daughter; a married Filipina/Indonesian maid in Singapore working to feed her family back home; and her Bangladeshi boyfriend in Singapore, who has been transferred to work in Malaysia.

Ong has previously blurred the lines between documentary and fiction with films such as Hashi, Flooding In The Time Of Drought and Memories Of A Burning Tree, which all screened at International Film Festival Rotterdam.

Mainly working in photography and video, Sigmundstad is a visual artist whose shorts and documentaries include If A Traveler To Serbia On A Winter’s Night and  A Letter To The Minister Of Culture.

Sigmundstad and Ong plan to have started shooting some scenes before HAF. They are keen to find collaborators for the film to work as a multimedia piece in cinemas as well as galleries and/or museums. Ong’s Studio Shermano is producing.

Jean Noh

  • Producers Sherman Ong, Birgitte Sigmundstad
  • Production Company Studio Shermano
  • Budget $125,000
  • Finance raised to date $18,000 (CPH:DOX’s DOX:LAB, Norwegian Film Institute)
  • Contact Sherman Ong

The Trial

Dir Sheng Zhimin

Project’s country of origin China

Chinese director Sheng Zhimin’s latest project, The Trial, is a courtroom drama about a well-known lawyer defending a nanny who is accused of killing a kidnapper while saving from abduction the child under her care.

The lawyer soon finds himself in hot water over the course of the trial.

“The true essence of the story comes from the society we live in today, where we can see ever deepening class division and widespread resentment against the rich,” says Sheng. “The story is full of suspense and yet at the same time reflects the deep conflicts facing the characters. I’m keen to explore their internal struggles as their secrets are being revealed.”

While casting is in the final stages, Sheng expects to feature top actors in the film. He is working with scriptwriter Huo Xin for the first time on an original script. Huo has penned scripts for several films directed by Zhang Yang and more recently for local blockbusters Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons and The Monkey King.

The film will be produced by Beijing-based Shenglai TV and Film Culture Company, founded by Sheng and his high-school classmate Yang Dong. The latter previously produced Sheng’s Bliss, which earned the Netpac award at Locarno in 2006 and best film at Shanghai International Film Festival’s Asian New Talent Awards in 2007.

Yang was also involved in production on several big-budget blockbusters such as John Woo’s Red Cliff and the upcoming The Crossing, as well as Feng Xiaogang’s Back To 1942 and Aftershock.

Sheng’s other works include documentaries Night Of An Era and China, The Empire Of Art?, as well as recent psychological drama Zodiac Mystery. In 2010, he won HAF’s Technicolor Asia Award with his project, Cosplay.

WY Wong

  • Finance Producers Yang Dong
  • Production company Shenglai TV and Film Culture Company
  • Budget $6m
  • Finance raised to date $2m
  • Contact Li Kunlan

Angel Whispers

Dirs Carrie Ng, Shirley Yung

Project’s country of origin Hong Kong

Angel Whispers will mark the directorial debut of award-winning Hong Kong actress Carrie Ng, who is co-directing the suspense thriller with veteran producer-turned-director Shirley Yung.

Fascinated by the genre, the duo came up with the story idea together. “Suspense thrillers used to be a mainstay for Hong Kong cinema during its golden days. Now that many once-popular genres are making a successful comeback, it’s time to reinterpret the suspense thriller genre,” says Yung.

The story is set in the red-light district of Sham Shui Po, home to many one-woman brothels in which a single prostitute works alone in a small rental apartment. When one such woman has gone missing, her friendly landlord teams up with other working girls to look for her. They soon find out many more prostitutes have previously disappeared in the soon-to-be-demolished old building.

The screenplay is written by Thomas Pang, a regular writer for the Pang brothers, whose recent credits include Conspirators, Sleepwalker, The Detective and The Detective 2.

In addition to directing, Ng will play a lead role in the film, which will also feature several newcomers. Ng started her acting career at Hong Kong’s TVB before switching to films. She won best actress for Clarence Fok’s Remains Of A Woman at the Golden Horse Awards in 1993 and best supporting actress for Jacob Cheung’s The Kid at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 2000.

Sundream is a subsidiary of Hong Kong broadcaster i-Cable Communications. i-Cable’s chairman and CEO Stephen Ng serves as producer of the new project.

WY Wong

The Wedding Terminator

Dir Stanley Law

Project’s countries of origin Malaysia-China-Hong Kong

Malaysia-based Hong Kong director Stanley Law describes his latest project, The Wedding Terminator, as a “romantic comedy with some action elements”. 

The story follows Mimi and Sam who run a discreet business breaking up weddings. Although Mimi does not realise it, Sam is devoted to her and goes to great lengths to help her marry a rich Prince Charming. But at the last moment they end up ruining Mimi’s grand wedding, too.

Law explains his inspiration for the film: “Malaysia has a very interesting culture and various races - the Malay, Chinese and Indians. I have been living in this country for more than 15 years and got the chance to experience different weddings of each race. Although Chinese weddings are nothing new to me, I still can find many differences between local Chinese and Chinese from other regions.”

Following more than 20 years’ production experience in the television industry, Law recently directed feature film Paper Moon, which won the award of excellence (international division), best screenplay, best actress and best supporting actor at the fourth Los Angeles Movie Awards.

“I have made many dramas and telemovies about romance and weddings, but the biggest challenge this time is to show four weddings of various races in 90 minutes and crash them before the wedding couples say, ‘I do.’

“As a creative person, I think I should try any genre as long as the story is good and challenging,” says Law.

Stanley Law’s Three Production will produce the project, which is at treatment stage. Law plans to film mostly in Malaysia, with the Chinese wedding scenes filmed in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Budget permitting, the film-makers would also like to shoot the Indian wedding in Bombay.

Jean Noh

  • Producer Jess Teong
  • Production company Three Production
  • Budget $980,000
  • Finance raised to date $100,000
  • Contact Jess Teong

Malegaon: Tales From The Terror Trail

Dir Rakesh Sharma

Project’s country of origin India

Rakesh Sharma’s feature-length documentary explores the aftermath of the bomb blasts by Hindu fundamentalists in the predominantly Muslim town of Malegaon in Maharashtra in 2006.

The film explores the effect the bombs have on both Hindu and Muslim local residents. It also documents the rise of Hindu fundamentalism by tracking the president of the organisation held responsible for the Malegaon terror attack, who happens to be the niece of Nathuram Godse, who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi. 

Sharma has filmed the documentary for more than three years in Malegaon. As with his previous films, it was self-funded. “I want to exercise absolute control over domestic distribution, as well as have total editorial freedom as my themes are very political,” Sharma explains.

He is attending HAF to look for funding to complete editing and post-production. “I would not like my film to be shaped by any commercial consideration. This is the first time I am approaching a forum like this,” Sharma says. 

His first documentary, Aftershocks: The Rough Guide To Democracy, has been screened at more than 100 international film festivals and won the best documentary prize at Fribourg International Film Festival in 2002.

His best-known work, Final Solution (2004), about the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, won the Wolfgang Staudte and special jury awards at Berlin International Film Festival and the humanitarian award for outstanding documentary at Hong Kong International Film Festival.

Final Solution was initially banned by the Indian censor board but later certified without cuts following public pressure. It won a special jury award at India’s National Film Awards in 2007.

Nandita Dutta

  • Producers Rakesh Sharma
  • Budget $70,000
  • Finance raised to date $45,000
  • Contact Rakesh Sharma

Five Star Billionaire

Dir Bernard Chauly

Project’s countries of origin Malaysia-China

UK-based Malaysian director Bernard Chauly is adapting the Man Booker Prize long-listed novel Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw, a contemporary migration tale about five Malaysian Chinese characters whose lives intertwine as they pursue the ‘Shanghai Dream’.

“What I look for in novels are characters and the essence of their journeys. Tash Aw’s characters instantly grabbed me, and the story has globally understandable themes of aspiration, reinventing yourself in a different country and trying to escape yourself in search of success and possible love,” says Chauly.

Although the novel is in English, the film will be mainly in Mandarin, Shanghainese and English with subtitles for an international audience.

Known for romantic comedies with strong female protagonists, Chauly has directed five features including Goalposts & Lipstick and Gold Diggers - both produced by Red Films, which is also producing Five Star Billionaire.

“Red Films and I have worked hard to nurture a local audience in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei,” Chauly says. “The films they have produced have been to festivals as well as on the theatrical circuit. I feel I’m at a point in my career where I’m ready to take this big step forward into global film-making. Tash’s characters have done very well in North America and Europe, and shaping this into a film is something I can do.”

The film-makers are currently developing the script as an artistic yet commercially accessible film with a base audience in Malaysia, but aiming for global audiences. They have already secured backing from local partner Marna Films. With Five Star Billionaire to be shot in China, they will be at HAF looking for funds, potential co-producers and distributors.

Jean Noh

  • Producers Lina Tan, Lee Mee Fung
  • Production company Red Films
  • Budget $2m
  • Finance raised to date $500,000 from Marna Films
  • Contact Lina Tan


Dir Lam Tze Chung

Project’s country of origin Hong Kong

Hong Kong actor-director Lam Tze Chung returns to HAF this year with Game, an adventure thriller set on a deserted island.

Unlike his trademark comedies, the new project is a story of survival, following a jaded office worker who is lured to spend a week in the wilderness for a life-changing experience, not knowing that he will be chased by wolves and hunted as prey by a group of rich kids.

“Wolves will play an important role in the film. I want to use them to reflect human behaviour,” says Lam, who will not act in the film in order to focus on directing. He intends to cast new actors.

Filming will be off the beaten track with a jungle, probably in China, as the main location. Due to the difficulties filming with real wolves, wolf dogs will be used and VFX will be employed to make them look more lupine in post-production.

The project will be submitted to Hong Kong Film Development Council for funding.

On board as producers are Wing Or, who worked on Transformers: Age Of Extinction when it filmed in China, and Ken Hui, a producer on Flora Lau’s Cannes 2013 title Bends. The duo launched a production house, One Tree Films, last year, which has completed its first project I Can Sing by new director Wong Wai.

Lam started as a screenwriter at TVB in 1995 before taking up acting. In 2006, he made his directorial debut with I’ll Call You as part of Andy Lau’s Focus First Cuts. His other films include comedies The Luckiest Man and Hyperspace Rescue. Lam took part in last year’s HAF with King Of Shrimp Roe Noodle.

WY Wong

  • Budget Producers Wing Or, Ken Hui
  • Production companies One Tree Films
  • Budget $2m
  • Finance raised to date $100,000 (Star City Pictures)
  • Contact Wing Or

Dead, End

Dir Dev Benegal 

Project’s country of origin India

Set in present-day India, Dead, End is the story of Abhay, who is officially declared dead despite being alive. The only person who can reverse his death certificate is a bureaucrat in the Governor of Departments (GoD), which handles all matters of land, life and death.

Abhay is GoD’s latest victim, done to ‘death’ by his own brothers so they can steal his land. He unites with the other victims of GoD and forms the Dead People’s Society, which tackles an increasingly absurd and comic maze of hurdles to prove he is alive.

Currently in pre-production, the film will be shot in and around New Delhi in India. “It’s a side of India no-one has seen before, and as a director, I like to tell a story with humour. It can be more expressive than a straight drama,” says Benegal, who is looking for producing partners and sales agents at HAF.

Benegal’s debut feature English, August won India’s National Film Award for best English-language feature in 1994 and became the first Indian film to be acquired for distribution by 20th Century Fox.

His second feature, Split Wide Open (1999), premiered at Venice Film Festival and was also distributed by Fox. His third feature, Road, Movie, screened at Berlin and Toronto and was picked up by Fortissimo Films for international sales.

Benegal’s production company, August Entertainment, is jointly producing Dead, End with Mumbai-based The Satish Kaushik Entertainment (SKE).

Founded by actor-producer Satish Kaushik, SKE recently produced Nagesh Kukunoor’s Lakshmi, which premiered at this year’s Palm Springs International Film Festival. Kaushik has also boarded Dead, End as an actor. 

Nandita Dutta

  • Budget Producers Satish Kaushik, Dev Benegal
  • Production companies August Entertainment,  The Satish Kaushik Entertainment
  • Budget $1.5m
  • Finance raised to date $150,000
  • Contact Dev Benegal

30 Days Of Ginger

Dir Teo Eng Tiong

Project’s country of origin Singapore

With 30 Days Of Ginger, Singaporean director Teo Eng Tiong is working with his writer and producer Lim Jen Nee on a film inspired by another of their partnerships - childbearing.

After raising two babies, the husband and wife team have twice gone through the Chinese post-partum tradition of ‘confinement’, in which the woman stays at home with no showers, undergoing rituals such as full body-binding, and adheres to a strict diet including ginger and pig trotters in vinegar to regain her long-term health.

The process inspired them to make a film about a modern Singaporean career woman who is forced to go through confinement with her traditional Chinese mother-in-law. 

“Compared to my first film, which was quite serious and dealt with poverty, this is about new parents taking care of their family in a fish-out-of-water situation,” says Teo, whose feature debut Truth Be Told won best original film at the fifth Asian Film Festival of Rome. “It’s not slapstick or in-your-face comedy. It’s a more light-hearted kind of film that people can relate to.”

Although set in Singapore, most of the story will take place indoors. The film-makers are open to co-production and already have Shanty Harmayn and Tanya Yuson attached as executive producers.

Teo, who also has a background in computer animation and post-production, teaches at Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Humanities & Social Sciences. Lim Jen Nee also wrote and produced Truth Be Told through Pilgrim Pictures, which is producing 30 Days Of Ginger.

The project is a winner of the New Talent Feature Grant from Singapore’s Media Development Authority, which selects first or second feature films for support and is contributing 25% of the total budget.

Jean Noh

The Embroiderer

Dir Brillante Mendoza

Country of origin Philippines

Brillante Mendoza, who won best director prize at Cannes 2009 for Kinatay, has two projects in HAF this year: documentary Gay Messiah and fiction feature The Embroiderer. The latter is about an old woman whose embroidery work has reflected the story of her love for two men throughout the chequered history of the Philippines.

“The Embroiderer is not only about a love story, but also the history of the craft,” says Mendoza. “It’s a period film that happens mostly in 1945 during the Japanese occupation, which also makes it different. It has an old couple, whose scenes will be set maybe in 2000, but the rest is in the 1940s.”

He continues: “This is really very exciting for me. I had always been offered period films in the past, but because I’m a production designer, I’m very critical. If I don’t have enough budget, I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to do those kinds of period films that have to make do with cheap production design.”

Mendoza explains that he started out by discussing the project with Filipina senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares, who is working on a bill to promote shooting by local and international film-makers in the Philippines. “I proposed this project to her, which actually originated in a region of the Philippines where embroidery is a dying industry. She wants to look for private funds outside the government, so we submitted the project to HAF to look for co-production,” he explains.

The film is being produced by Mendoza’s own Center Stage Productions. Mendoza says the script is in its first draft and he hopes to have it finished by the end of the year.

Jean Noh

  • Finance Producer Teeda Pascual
  • Production company Center Stage Productions (CSP)
  • Budget $1.5m
  • Finance raised to date $100,000 (CSP)
  • Contact Brillante Mendoza

Forgive Me

Dir Lina Yang

Country of origin China

“We’ve always known that China follows a one-child policy. In reality, however, a man can have many wives and many children, not unlike polygamy under the feudal system 2,000 years ago,” says Chinese director Lina Yang.

Her latest project, Forgive Me, is about a successful film producer who, as a lingering soul after being killed in a car accident, looks back at his life and tries to make amends with his three ex-wives and children.

“Although marriage and love are not fresh subject matters, this story hasn’t been told in any Chinese films and I’ll tell it with a new perspective,” says Yang. While she is currently developing the script by herself, Yang may hire a co-writer at a later stage. Filming locations will range from Tibet to the US.

Sodium is a new production outfit founded by Yang in 2013 for her first feature, Longing For The Rain. The erotic drama, about a married woman finding sexual pleasure with a mysterious young man who appears in her dreams, received a special mention at last year’s Hong Kong International Film Festival.

Liao Ching Sung, who edited Longing For The Rain, will reunite with Yang on Forgive Me as her producer. The renowned Taiwanese editor has cut all Hou Hsiao Hsien’s films and subsequently become his producer.

Yang was a dancer for 10 years before turning to filmmaking. She started off as a documentary director with her debut Old Men, which grabbed multiple awards, including the award of excellence at Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival in 1999 and the Golden Dove award at DOK Leipzig in 2000. She was also one of the lead actors in Jia Zhangke’s Platform.

WY Wong

  • Producers Liao Ching Sung, Yang Lina
  • Production company Sodium
  • Budget $3.35m
  • Finance raised to date $850,000
  • Contact Yang Lina


Dir Zhao Liang

Country of origin China

After spending two years conducting nationwide research about the subject matter, Chinese director Zhao Liang started filming his latest documentary, Dust, last June.

Set on the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, the documentary follows four individuals brought together by a coalmine. They include a young girl whose family lives in a traditional yurt near the mine; a man working as a miner for four years without a protective face-mask; the old boss who has been running the mine for decades; and a former miner now suffering from black-lung disease.

“The film will reflect the imminent, severe environmental issue created by the over-exploitation of the mining industry, which remains largely unregulated. The issue is not unrelated to the thick haze shrouding us every day,” says Zhao.

The film-maker, who also works as a contemporary artist in photography, video installations and video arts, has earned a reputation as a social activist. Most notable is his documentary Petition, about China’s justice system, which was filmed over 12 years. After premiering in Cannes, it received a humanitarian award at Hong Kong International Film Festival in 2010.

While Petition was banned in China, his last film Together (2010), on the subject of HIV and Aids, became his first documentary to be shown in his own country. Commissioned by China’s Ministry of Heath, it was produced as a ‘making of’ for Chinese director Gu Changwei’s narrative feature Til Death Do Us Part.

Zhao is working for the first time with Hong Kong’s Jet Tone Films on Dust. Producers on the project include Jet Tone’s Jacky Pang and Sylvie Blum from France’s Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (INA), who previously produced Petition.

WY Wong

  • Producers Jacky Pang, Sylvie Blum
  • Production company Jet Tone Films
  • Budget $380,000
  • Finance raised to date $200,000
  • Contact Charlotte Yu

So Be It

Dir Kongdej Jaturanrasamee

Project’s country of origin Thailand

Currently in production, So Be It, from Thai director Kongdej Jaturanrasamee, mixes documentary and fictional elements.

The film is inspired by a Thai reality show on TrueVisions TV in which seven-year-old Thai-American boy William took part in a Buddhist summer ordination programme. Kongdej follows William as he continues his Buddhist journey as a monk, along with an 11-year-old hilltribe boy who has been sent to a temple with 2,000 other children.

“The first time I heard about William, so many questions were raised in my mind,” says Kongdej. “In the age of a Buddhism crisis, so many people lose their faith in religion. Why would a little American boy such as him choose to become a monk? And what about those children who live in temples to survive? What do they think about the religion?”

Kongdej’s mainstream features include the award-winning Sayew and Midnight My Love. He is also a well-known scriptwriter whose credits include Tom Yum Goong and Queens Of Pattani. His first and second independent films, P-047 and Tang Wong, premiered at the Venice 2011 and Berlin 2013 film festivals respectively.

“This is my first time with a documentary. So everything is so new for me and makes me feel so fresh all the time. I’ve learned many things on this project, from ‘make it happen’ to ‘let it happen’, from shoot to snap,” he says.

Soros Sukhum (Mundane History) and Kongdej are producing through their company Song Sound Production. Attaphon Na Bangxang, chief content officer at TrueVisions, is also attached as producer.

Jean Noh

  • Producers Kongdej Jaturanrasamee, Soros Sukhum, Attaphon Na Bangxang
  • Production companies Song Sound Production, TrueVisions
  • Budget $366,700
  • Finance raised to date $205,000
  • Contact Parinee Buthrasri

Devil And Dust

Dir Li Xiaofeng

Project’s country of origin China

Chinese writer-turned-director Li Xiaofeng explores the themes of love and the loyalty of women in his new project, Devil And Dust.

Set in the late 1990s in his home town, a rural village in Anhui Province, the story is partly about the forbidden love between a brother and his half-sister and partly about the enduring love of their elderly parents.

“The characters stay true to their feelings in chaotic times. This film is about the revenge of timeless feelings on modern society,” says Li.

Although the project’s Chinese title (Hypnotized By Water) is the same as a novel written by Li when he was 15 years old, the plot is different. He finished the new story last summer and his collaborator Wang Mu is now writing the screenplay.

Once a leading film critic under the pseudonym Liar, Li joined Lu Chuan’s workshop as a creative consultant in 2002. He directed the ‘making of’ film for Lu’s Mountain Patrol and was a screenwriter on Zhang Yuan’s Dada’s Dance, in which he also starred.

Li is set to make his directorial debut with Scrape My Bones, which won the most creative project award at Shanghai International Film Festival’s China Film Pitch and Catch project market last year. The rite-of-passage drama is due to start shooting in April.

Devil And Dust will be produced by Shen Yang (Black Coal, Thin Ice) and Jia Lisha, who is also a producer on Scrape My Bones and co-wrote Dada’s Dance. Loyalty & Royalty Cultural Transmission is a new production company set up by Li with Devil And Dust as its first project.

WY Wong

  • Producers Shen Yang, Jia Lisha
  • Production company Loyalty & Royalty Cultural Transmission
  • Budget $600,000
  • Finance raised to date $60,000
  • Contact Shen Yang

Private Eyes

Dir Chang Jung Chi

Project’s country of origin Taiwan

Set to be the first detective-mystery film from Taiwan in recent years, Chang Jung Chi’s Private Eyes follows an academic-turned-detective investigating what looks like Taiwan’s first serial-killer case.

The dark yet comical story is based on the bestselling and multiple award-winning novel of the same name written by Chi Wei Jan.

Taipei-based production company Double Edge Entertainment (DEE), which is financing the project, acquired the movie rights in early 2012. 

Chi is a successful playwright as well as a screenwriter for such films as A Way We Go and animation Fire Ball. Private Eyes is his first novel and he is adapting it into a screenplay himself. 

“I’ve spent much time studying the logic behind the crimes and visited all the local locations portrayed in the book, hoping to create a brand new and unique private investigator character for Taiwan,” says Chang, whose debut feature Touch Of The Light earned him the best new director prize at the 2012 Golden Horse Awards.

Chang’s credits also include My Football Summer, which won the best documentary prize at the 2006 Golden Horse Awards. He also recently directed a genre film, high-school thriller Partners In Crime, for DEE, which is due to open in Taiwan this September. He also co-directed DEE’s 3D concert film Mayday 3DNA.

DEE producer Wolf Chen is developing the new project with Warner Bros Taiwan, which invested in 2013 hit Zone Pro Site, and Hong Kong and Taipei-based Jet Tone Films. Production is expected to start this summer on location in Taipei.

WY Wong

  • Producers Wolf Chen, Jacky Pang
  • Production companies Double Edge Entertainment
  • Budget $5m
  • Finance raised to date $2.5m
  • Contact Eric Chou

Our Father

Dir Jun Robles Lana

Project’s country of origin Philippines 

Director Jun Robles Lana returns to HAF to complete his “small-town Philippines” trilogy with Our Father. “It’s edgier in tone than my previous two films and probably my most personal yet,” he says.

The film follows a young teenager, Jonathan, who discovers his mother after she has committed suicide, and finds out his mystery father is a priest. He goes to live with the priest under the guise of joining the seminary.

“I come from a family of priests, and priests fathering children is a topic that is often discussed in hushed tones in family gatherings,” says Lana. “Having an absentee father myself, I know first-hand what it’s like to long for a parent’s love and validation. This is a story I connect with deeply.”

The first film in the trilogy, Bwakaw, won the best actor prize at last year’s Asian Film Awards for Eddie Garcia and was picked up by Fortissimo Films. It also played at Toronto and New York and was selected as the Philippines’ submission to the Oscars’ best foreign-language film category.

The second in the trilogy, Barber’s Tales, won the best actress prize for Eugene Domingo at Tokyo International Film Festival in 2013 and has a best actress nomination at this year’s AFAs. It also won the HAF, ARRI and Technicolor awards at last year’s HAF.

Further casting details are yet to be announced but Domingo will play “a special role” in Our Father. “If everything goes to plan, principal photography should start in May,” says Lana. “But like Barber’s Tales, we’re still flexible to accommodate any potential investor/production partner.”

Jean Noh

  • Producers Ferdinand Lapuz, Perci Intalan
  • Production company Octobertrain Films
  • Budget $150,000
  • Finance raised to date $20,000 (seed money from local partners in Manila)
  • Contact Ferdinand Lapuz