Hong Kong's Filmart (June 23-25) closedon a rousing note on Friday with rallying cries from industry leaders andfurther details of next year's mega-event, Entertainment Expo Hong Kong 2005.
Sellers agreed that they had seen fewer visitors from the US and Europe, possibly an effect of timing thatreflected the proximity to Cannes and Shanghai markets that this yearwere without SARS interruptions. And buyers from China and South-East Asia, in particular Thailand, were out in force in Hong Kong.
The large Korean contingent also did well. US distributor Palm Pictures reported thatfollowing FilMart discussions it is now poised to buyrights to last year's San Sebastian winner Memories Of Murder and library title Joint Security Area (JSA) both from CJEntertainment. Palm's David Koh said that both willbe given theatrical releases.
Korea's CineclickAsia sold first time director Jung Yong-gi'sforthcoming The Doll Master toComstock of Japan in a deal valued at $1.1m. It also licensed The President'sBarber to Japan's New Select.
Doll Master will only be released in Korea in Korea in August, but as a horror thriller isalso one of the few genres of local Asian films that currently work in the Taiwan and Cineclickwas able to sell Taiwanese rights to the picture to Scholar Films. Cineclick also sold Dollmaster, Acaciaand Cannes Grand Jury Prize-winner OldBoy in a package deal with PT Warna of Indonesia.
Mirovision licensed Japanese rights on itsmega-budget animation Wonderful Daysto Gainax, which is planning a Japanese version. Thefilm is next expected to make an international appearance at Venice, possibly in a midnight screening slot.
Hong Kong companies did manage some sales to Europe. FortissimoFilm Sales sold its Invisible Wavesand Three Extremes to Wild Side ofFrance. Mandarin Films sold action title Ultimate Fight to an unnamed UK buyer and MeiAh Entertainment sold a package of 15 martial arts titles to France. "Action and classic martial artsremains the focus for European territories," said MeiAh distribution chief Sara Law.
At a closing press conference, Media Asia co-founder Wellington Fung called on the local film industry to adopt newbusiness models or risk being left behind: "In the golden era in the 80s and90s we developed our own business models. We still apply them today. But themarket has changed since then."
Tying in with Filmart's dominant themethis year - multimedia convergence - Fung suggestedthat Hong Kong film companies should start planningahead and develop content across a range of platforms, including games, merchandisingand comics. "We pay lip service to this but it's not being done," said Fung. "The movie industry was a natural leader in the past.If we fail to apply new models, we'll lag behind and other industries, like theonline games industry, will take the lead."
At the same time, Filmart organisers theHong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) unveiled details of next year'sEntertainment Expo which brings together all of territory's major film events -Filmart, which will be held March 22-24, the HongKong International Film Festival (March 22 - April 6), the Hong Kong FilmAwards (March 27) and the revived Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF).
"Next year we'll develop Filmart into aone-stop shop," said TDC director, services promotion, Rachel Chan. HAF willpresent around 20 projects to potential investors and a steering committee,including former HAF director Albert Lee and MPIA vice chairman Peter Lam, isbeing put together to oversee the event. The festival will celebrate the 100thanniversary of Chinese cinema and the awards will move to a bigger venue, theHung Hom Coliseum, to allow more people to attend.
Filmart's date change may be its wisest move yetas this year's market seemed quieter than last, despite an increase inregistered visitors, mainly because it followed a busy Cannes. Last year's Filmartbenefited from being postponed to a September slot due to SARS. "People stayedat home during SARS so by September they really needed information," saidUniverse COO Alvin Lam. "This year has been quite slow in comparison."