This year's Hong Kong International Film and Television Market (FilMart) ended on an upbeat note on Friday (June 28) with many delegates agreeing that the event was busier and had attracted a broader mix of participants than in previous years.
"We've seen more buyers from more countries and the prices being offered were very reasonable," said Golden Harvest director of film distribution Teerachai Triwongwaranat.
Josh Lee, sales executive from Korean major Cinema Service, said the market had been worthwhile for him. "We closed a number of deals with clients that we had met before, including one at asking price from a buyer who had previously declined to put in an offer. There were very few buyers from Europe or the US, making it a very Asian event."
Companies from Hong Kong and mainland China were once again the dominant force at FilMart accounting for 34% and 32% of total participants respectively. However, the event certainly felt more like a pan-Asian market than in previous years, and seemed to be attended by an unprecedented number of Malaysian and Thai buyers. There were also some other, less obvious, delegations. These included exhibitors from Italy and Mexico and producers from Zimbabwe and a couple of local soft-core erotic merchants. Corridor traffic too seemed markedly heavier than previous editions of FilMart with Wednesday's opening ceremony positively bustling.
Like others, however, Cinema Service's Lee underlined the financial efforts of the event's organisers, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), which included picking up the cost of flights and hotels for many buyers and underwriting accommodation for many exhibitors, especially first timers. "If FilMart had not paid my hotel bill it would be difficult to have seen this as very profitable for us," said Lee. "It is a little too close to Cannes and would be better off either earlier or in August."
FilMart's timing has become an issue of debate, with some sectors of the industry calling for it to be combined with the Hong Kong Asia Screenings (HAS) and Hong Kong International Film Festival in April. However, according to a survey commissioned by the TDC, 94% of this year's exhibitors and 77% of buyers agree that the event should be held in June.
The survey, conducted by AC Nielsen, also collected participants' opinions of Hong Kong film and the wider Asian market. Amongst its findings it revealed that 37% of buyers that were polled expect to pay $25,000-$100,000 for a Hong Kong film, while 29% expect to pay less than $25,000 and 23% expect to pay between $100,000 and $250,000. In addition, 65% of buyers said the Hong Kong film industry needs to improve script quality. Production quality and promotional strategies were also highlighted as areas for improvement.
The survey, which polled 94 exhibitors and 205 buyers, also found that 23% of buyers are interested in acquiring Hong Kong dramas, while only 8% of Hong Kong sellers believe the genre has international appeal. Meanwhile 52% of sellers believe that comedy is the genre with the biggest sales potential (excluding action films), compared to only 40% for buyers.