Hong Kongproduction outfit Filmko Films announced its first 2005 project at this week'sFilmart: Ah Sou, a US$3m Hong Kong-China co-production by risingdirector Wong Ching Po.

Ah Sou, which literally means the big gangster'swife, centres around a 16-year-old girl who gets involved in gang wars andpower struggles. Taiwanese newcomer Annie Liu is set to play the title roletogether with a string of award winning actors: Simon Yam, Eric Tsang, AnthonyWong, mainland actor Liu Ye and Alex Fong who last week won the best actoraward at the fifth Chinese Film Media Awards.

Filming willbegin in April for a summer delivery. Despite sharing a similar gangster theme,Ah Sou is not a sequel to Wong's acclaimed triad film Jiang Hu,his first commercial film.

The use of anewcomer actress and a young director in Ah Sou is in line with Filmko'susual practice of bringing in fresh blood to the industry. "We've worked withmany young directors like Floating Landscape's Carol Lai, Six StrongGuys' Barbara Wong and Butterfly's Mak Yan Yan, as well asdiscovered talented actress like July Rhapsody's Karena Lam,' saidKatherine Lee, senior vice president, distribution.

This year, Filmkois expanding its slate to four films that involve a total investment of US$10m,compared to US$5m for three films last year. Its line-up also includes a US$2muntitled thriller directed by Cheang Poo Soi. Lam is attached to star whileAngelica Lee is in talks. Shooting will begin in May for release in October.

Filmko is alsodeveloping a US$2m comedy thriller with Lo Chi Leung (Inner Senses) andMarriage Celebrant with Barbara Wong.