In an auspicious sign for the local industry, the event’s online panel discussions and virtual dealmaking sessions got underway in earnest just after news broke that Hong Kong’s movie theaters would be allowed to reopen as the third wave of novel coronavirus infection was brought back under control.
Over 600 international film companies, including the major studios from China, Japan and Korea and other Asian markets, are expected to participate in Filmart’s online platforms, with over 2,000 new or recent feature films securely hosted for global buyers to stream and preview. Following the model recently pioneered by Cannes’ virtual Marche du Film held in June, the Hong Kong market also is hosting an array of seminars, content showcases, business dialogues and sideline networking events to help the film community reconnect.
A recurring pair of themes on day one of the confab was optimism over the improved outlook for China’s recently rebooted theatrical film sector, where local blockbuster The Eight Hundred recently opened to $112 million and concern over the fast-changing, post-pandemic dynamics of the region’s other major markets.
Vivek Cutou, executive director of regional research group Media Partners Asia, kicked off the speaking series with a keynote on consumption trends and supply and demand dynamics in Asia, given the region’s pre-pandemic trends and mixed rates of success at containing the virus. A pair of talks in the afternoon featured several mainland Chinese industry veterans — Jez Zhang, CEO of leading mainland Chinese consultancy iiMedia Research; James Li, CEO of New China Media Pictures; and Yuan Zhou, evp of Shanghai-based Linmon Pictures — discussing how the twin challenges of pandemic and streaming are remaking the strategies of major players in China’s massive film and TV production sectors.
Territory-specific platforms throughout day one of Filmart featured film representatives from Finland, France and China’s Zhezhang Provence showcasing their latest slates and touting production incentives and partnership opportunities from home.
The Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF), arguably the region’s most influential indie film financing platform, also launched Wednesday with the first of a series of online pitching sessions for potential financiers. At least 22 work-in-progress projects were shortlisted for participation in this year’s virtual HAF; they will be meeting online with potential partners all week in pursuit of closing funds, post-production partners, distributors, sales agents or festival support.
Postponed from its usual dates in March, the virtual Filmart runs Aug. 26-29. The event can be followed online via the website of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.