Film buyers from 15 countries, including the US, UK and Japan, have confirmed their attendance at Hong Kong's new film market, the Hong Kong Asia Screenings (HAS), which is set to take place April 2-4.

Organised by the Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) and Hong Kong industry association, the MPIA, the event aims to showcase the best of new Asian cinema in the run up to Cannes. About 50 buyers are set to attend including Warner Bros. and Miramax, Japanese distributors Nippon Herald, Shochiku and Asmik Ace, France's Orly Films and Wild Bunch and the UK's Momentum Pictures and Pathe Distribution.

"About 100 top industry professionals from around the world will come to HAS this year to meet their industry peers in order to explore new ideas together, gain a better mutual understanding and enhance business co-operation," said HAS director Wouter Barendrecht.

Among the 20 films which will screen at the event are Bangkok Haunted, from Thailand's Pisuth Praesaengaim and Oxide Pang; Public Toilet, directed by Hong Kong's Fruit Chan; and Singapore box office hit I'm Not Stupid, directed by Jack Neo.

Screenings will take place at three venues - the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the Hong Kong Space Museum and the UA cinema in Whampoa Plaza. Sellers will be setting up shop at the Harbour Plaza hotel in Hung Hom.

The market, which takes place during the HKIFF (March 27 - Apr 7), is hoped to pave the way for a full resurrection of the successful Hong Kong Asian Film Financing Forum (HAF), 2000, which was criticised by legislators as "wasteful." "HAS is one of the key strategic film events in Asia. This event is a must for the world's film professionals, if they want to discover the latest developments in or present the hottest news on Asian filmmaking," said Peter Tsi, director of the HKIFF.

The festival is boasting new levels of popularity with online ticket sales already at record levels. Novelties include the launch of a new feature "Planet Osaka", which comprises the boldest productions by the most avant-garde filmmakers in Japan as part of the "Age of Independents: New Asian Film and Video" (AOI) strand.