Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum Announces 2013 Projects

Apichatpong Weerasethakul

The noted Thai auteur was in Locarno to head the international jury, which earned praise for some of its out-of-the-box prize selections. In addition to Brisseau’s The Girl From Nowhere, the jury honored a couple of unexpected actors - China’s An Nai for her understated role as a killer’s mother in Wo hai you hua yao shuo (When Night Falls) and Austrian actor Walter Saabel in just his second major acting role in Der Glanz des Tages.

Film festival regulars Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Naomi Kawase and Wang Bing are among directors bringing their latest projects to one of Asia’s most prominent co-production platforms in March.

HONG KONG – The Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) unveiled its 25 projects on Monday (Jan 28), in a slate which includes the latest projects from A-list festival regulars to blueprints for first feature-films from budding filmmakers.

Among the more well-known names appearing at this year’s HAF, which takes place from March 18 to 20 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, is Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The Thai director, who won the Palme d’Or in 2010 with Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, will present Cemetery of Kings, a film about a lonely homemaker and a soldier with a sleeping sickness.

Joining him will be Japan’s Naomi Kawase, a two-time prize-winner at Cannes with Suzaku (Camera d’Or, 1997) and The Mourning Forest (Grand Prix, 2007), who will be seeking funding for 2 Ways, a film reflecting on the cycles of human existence through the lives of her home country’s Amami islanders.

Other festival darlings such as China’s Wang Bing (Orizzonti award in Venice in 2012 with Three Sisters), Sri Lanka’s Vimukthi Jayasundra (Camera d’Or, 2005, with The Forsaken Land), Japan’s Isao Yukisada (Fipresci prize in Berlin in 2010 with Paredo), and Jun Robles Lana (whose latest film Bwakaw, the Philippines’ official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, has spawned a Best Actor Golden Horse).

“The HAF submissions this year are truly amazing, especially in the variety and depth of the stories involved. One is spoilt for choice,” said Hong Kong director Leong Po-chih, a member of the HAF Project Reading Committee this year, in the HAF press release announcing the shortlist.

Leong’s fellow project reader, the Los Angeles-based producer Tim Kwok, said he was inspired by the Hong Kong entries this year. “They are a solid group of wonderful young voices focused on what makes Hong Kong’s stories so special. The future is indeed bright,” he said.

The Hong Kong directors making the cut this year are Philip Yung (with The Ceiling), first-time feature-length film director Ho Hong (Doomsday – Party, produced by veteran actor-director-musician Teddy Robin Kwan), comedian-director Lam Tze-chung (King of Shrimp Roe Noodles), Rita Hui (Pseudo-Secular, produced by Heiward Mak) and Lam Suk-ching (When I Come To Me, produced by Lawrence Lau).

Apart from being granted the opportunities to meet with international partners at HAF’s special booths at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, the 25 entries will also be in the running for three major awards. Two HAF awards, carrying with them a cash prize of HK$150,000 (about US$19,350) each, will be given to the best Hong Kong and non-Hong Kong project. The Wouter Barendrecht Award – established in memoriam to the late co-founder of Fortissimo Films – will provide an under-35 director who has not made more than three films with a prize of HK$50,000 (US$6,450).

Meanwhile, five projects are also selected from over 100 submissions for the second edition of HAF/FOX Chinese Film Development Award, with the finalists coming from Singapore, mainland China and Hong Kong. The winner will receive HK$100,000 (US$12,900), a development contract and a first-look agreement with Fox. A full list of all HAF entries this year is available at www.haf.org.hk.