HK heat for 'Nanking!'

Massacre pic draws attention from Filmart buyers

The Hong Kong Filmart got off to a steady start Monday as guests buzzed around a handful of titles in various stages of completion, including Lu Chuan's high-profile "Nanking! Nanking!"

Anticipation among buyers and sellers was piqued by a jump in the number of Chinese companies present in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre this year, even if a few griped about the lack of carpeting in the cavernous venue — apparently a cost-saving measure — and lingering construction noise.

"Nanking!" about the massacre of Chinese at the hands of Japan's army 72 years ago, is getting lots of attention in the Chinese-language press. Lu is not at Filmart as he's holed up in Beijing editing the film, which he hopes to finish in time for the Festival de Cannes in May.

Lu told The Hollywood Reporter that Harvey Weinstein has seen the film and expressed interest in world rights outside China. The Weinstein Co.'s man in Asia, Bey Logan, declined comment. Media Asia is the sales agent.

Among the flood of Asian films getting going, the one turning the most heads seems to be "The Child's Eye in 3D," which directors Danny and Oxide Pang are billing as the first Asian digital 3-D horror film. The $4.5 million pic from Hong Kong's Universe Films Distribution is about six Hong Kongers who encounter the supernatural while stranded in the Bangkok airport during the anti-government protests in November. It begins shooting in Bangkok in June. Late Monday, the film closed a deal with Scorpio East for Malaysian and Singaporean theatrical and video rights.

The martial-arts action film "High Kick Girl!" from Japanese writer-producer-director Fuyuhiko Nishi ("Black Belt") drew indie sales agent Hexagon Pictures considerable interest after a Monday screening for buyers from Taiwan and South Korea. The film already sold to China and Turkey.

Building on the success of 2008's "Painted Skin," Hong Kong sales company Golden Sun's recently announced $20 million "A Chinese Ghost Story" was attracting interest from major U.S. and Japanese studios, with the latter talking about early investment.

Karen Chu and Gavin J. Blair contributed to this report.