Veteran, new directors populate Hong Kong 25

HAF to include banned helmer Lou

The 25 Asian film projects selected for this year's Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (March 20-22) were announced Thursday by organizers.

Projects by such veterans as China's Jia Zhangke ("Shuang Xiong Hui") and Japan's Hirokazu Kore-Eda ("Night-Fragrant Flower") were chosen alongside those from up-and-coming filmmakers from around the region.

Some 600 international film financiers, bankers, producers, buyers, distributors and film-funding bodies are expected to gather at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center to meet with HAF project producers and directors and also attend the Hong Kong FilMart.

"This year's selection sees the further blossoming of HAF as new territories are participating for the first time. The 2007 projects are an embodiment of Asia's finest commercial and artistic filmmaking," new HAF director Jacob Wong said in a statement on the event's Web site.

HAF won't shy away from controversy with its selection of "The Last Hour," the latest project from director Lou Ye. In 2006, Lou was banned from making movies on the mainland for five years after he sent his film "Summer Palace" to Cannes without Beijing's approval. The film touches on the 1989 killing of students by the army in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

Projects previously featured at HAF include the critically acclaimed "The Wayward Cloud," by Taiwan director Tsai Ming-liang; "Distance," from Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda; and Hong Kong boxoffice hits "The Touch" and "Dragon Tiger Gate."

Two past HAF projects served as Thailand's official selections in the foreign-language category for the Academy Awards — "Invisible Waves," from director Pen-ek Ratanaruang, and "The Tin Mine," from helmer Jira Maligool. While Indonesia's "Love for Share," from director Nia Di Nata, went on to serve as that nation's Oscar contender.

Recently completed HAF projects include mainland China's "Air," directed by Zhang Yang, and "Lost in Beijing," from Li Yu; "Freesia" (a.k.a. "Freesia — Icy Tears"), by Japanese helmer Kumakiri Kazuyoshi; and Hong Kong entry "The Drummer," by Kenneth Bi.

A complete list of 2007 HAF projects is available at www.hollywoodreporter.com.
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