Expanding from its Hong Kong roots to become a truly regional event, the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) has been the springboard for many critically acclaimed as well as commercially successful projects.
From last year's line-up, Korean director Kim Jee-woon's The Good, The Bad And The Weird and Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Tokyo Sonata are expected to feature prominently on this year's festival circuit. Meanwhile, Yu Lik Wai's Plastic City will soon begin shooting in San Paolo, Brazil, as a co-production between China's Xstream Pictures, Brazil's Gullane Filmes, Japan's Bitters End and Hong Kong's Sundream Motion Pictures.
This year's edition (March 17-19) will present 25 Asian or Asian-themed projects to international financiers and features a mix of newcomers and more established film-makers. Among the veterans are the likes of Japan's Nakata Hideo (Ring) and Korea's Park Chan-wook (Oldboy), while up-and-coming talents include Aditya Assarat.
The line-up also features six projects from mainland Chinese directors such as Ning Hao, Li Yang and Sheng Zhimin, while Hong Kong has projects from Pang Ho-cheung and Carol Lai. Taiwan has three projects, including Yee Chin-yen's long-awaited follow-up to Blue Gate Crossing.
HAF has also expanded this year to include a non-Asian film-maker - UK-based director Richard Jobson - albeit with an Asian-themed project. His London and Hong Kong-set thriller Bloodline is being set up as a co-production between the UK's Independent Film Co and Wong Kar Wai's Hong Kong-based Jet Tone Films.
Last year, HAF was taken over by the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society, which co-organises it with the TDC and Hong Kong's Motion Picture Industry Association. The move was partly designed to increase its access to film-makers and festival programmers.
'The line-up this year is very strong, which would be worrying if it reflected that even big- name directors have trouble finding finance in other territories,' says HAF director Jacob Wong. 'But it probably just means they're keen to explore the international environment.'