The jury of the HAF/Fox Chinese Film Development Award shared their thoughts on the development of the Chinese film industry at a press briefing yesterday.

The five HAF/Fox finalists pitched their projects to the jury yesterday and the winner will be announced tonight (March 20). The jury comprises Bona Film Group chairman and CEO Yu Dong, Hong Kong filmmaker Fruit Chan and Rachel Chen, who heads up Jet Tone Productions Taiwan.

“You need new talent and smaller films to develop the market,” said Chan. “A few years ago it was difficult for the young generation, especially in China. But there are more opportunities now thanks to events like HAF, Asian Project Market and the Beijing and Shanghai film festivals.”

Chen agreed but said it still takes time to develop new talent: “Young filmmakers need lots of different skills in addition to filmmaking such as help with pitching. In Taiwan the atmosphere is very healthy with veteran filmmakers helping younger directors to develop.”

Yu Dong spoke of the censorship restrictions in mainland China which are preventing the film industry progressing as quickly as it could. “In terms of original content, film is falling behind the TV industry. TV shows are tackling subjects that you can’t touch in film.”

HAF/Fox reading committee member Abe Kwong, who heads production for Lost In Thailand producer Enlight Pictures, observed that comedies are useful in developing a market as they’re relatively low budget and can travel around the region. “Hong Kong learned this in the 1980s and now makes many different types of comedy, including the action comedies made by Jackie Chan.”

The final five projects in the HAF/Fox award are Sobel Chan’s League Of HK Movie Heroes (Hong Kong), Huang Yao’s Male Joy Female Love (China/Canada), Han Yew Kwang’s Qing Gong (Singapore/HK/China), Wu Yen-chieh’s Ten Brothers (Taiwan) and Gong Zhaohui’s Underground River (China).

The winner receives a cash award of HK$100,000 and a development contract with Fox. Other finalists may be offered a first-look deal.