New films by leading Asian directors Tsui Hark, Ann Hui and Stanley Kwan top a debut slate unveiled by Hong Kong-based production newcomer Filmko Pictures.

The company, which is headed by Alex Wong and directors Derek Yee and Jacob Cheung, was set up last August with the aim of expanding the horizons of Hong Kong cinema through a range of global themed productions and co-productions.

Filmko's first production, Cheung's Midnight Fly, is set to premiere at Cannes next month. A romantic thriller set in France and Morocco it is the story of two Asian women who become friends while on the rebound from the same man. It stars Hong Kong's pop diva Anita Mui and Japan's Junna Risa.

Among the follow-up projects now being readied is Tsui Hark's Sword Master, a period-set sword and sandals epic involving a young buck swordsman confronted with a man who has sworn never to use weapons. Hark, the multi-talented director of A Chinese Ghost Story, hopes to attract a Japanese cast for this latest film of his.

The biggest budget picture on the new Filmko slate is Kwan's previously announced Buddha Jumps Over The Wall. A $25m romantic drama set in overseas versions of "Chinatown". It stars Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui and is set to go into production next month. Kwan most recently directed 1999's The Island Tales.

Also in preparation is The Ship Harbours, a relationship drama featuring a stuck-in-a-rut schoolteacher who falls in love with one of his students. It is directed by Ann Hui On-wah, often dubbed Asia's most successful female director. Her 1982 Boat People appeared at Cannes and her Ordinary Heroes was in Berlin competition in 1998.

Among the other new projects are Tic Tac Too - a Derek Yee directed drama set in 2050 after the world has been reduced to neo-prehistoric times by a comet strike - and Alone In The Dark, by Lo Chi-leung, whose writing and directing credits include Hot War and Hong Kong hit Fly Me To Polaris. Yee, who started as a Shaw Brothers contract actor, previously directed C'Est La Vie Mon Cheri and Viva Erotica.

Arthur Wong, one of the region's foremost action cinematographers, directs Clone a sci-fi tale about a man who discovers that he has been genetically duplicated. Wong, who has acted as director of photography on Purple Storm, The Soong Sisters, Sleepless Town and Jean-Claude van Damme vehicle Knock Off, previously directed commercials and In The Line Of Duty 3 (Huang Jia Shi Jie Zhi III: Ci Xiong Da Dao).