Chinese presence fuels optimism in Hong Kong

Exhibitors hoping for lots of activity at Filmart 2010

HONG KONG -- Filmart 2010 opens with Asia pulling out of the global economic doldrums faster than any other region.

Even exhibitors -- whose numbers are up 7% to 540 this year -- will be hoping the region's resilience and hunger for fresh entertainment translates into more sales after 2009 tested the oft-touted recession-proof qualities of the film business.

Almost a fifth of this year's exhibitors -- more than 120 -- hail from mainland China, as the growing strength and importance of that market continues to show itself.

Europe is also making its presence felt with an expanded French pavilion and three first-time delegations, from Austria, Croatia and Latvia.

It will be of little surprise to anyone that 3D also will feature prominently at the market, with a number of seminars on the topic, the announcement of a new Hong Kong 3D film fund, and news about a Chinese version of "Don Quixote" that will be shot using the technology.

The Asian Side of the Doc will launch at Filmart this year, following the Latin Side of the Doc which bowed last year. Inspired by the 20-year success of the Sunny Side of the Doc events in France, the inaugural Asian sessions hope to attract more than 150 executives from the world of documentary filmmaking.

The 4th Asian Film Awards will be presented Monday night, and after Japanese films swept several major awards, guests will be betting which territory will be blessed by this year's gongs.

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On the screening front, the world premiere of "Iris: The Movie," starring Lee Byung-hun, will be on Tuesday. The big-budget TV version was a huge hit in Korea and is about to start a primetime run in Japan.

Meanwhile, two Japan-Korea co-productions represented by CJ Entertainment, "Golden Slumber" and "Sayonara Itsuka," are but two of a growing number of intra-Asian collaborations.

Interest is sure to be high for the second "Ip Man" film about the life of Bruce Lee's kung fu master, a legendary figure in Hong Kong martial arts.
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