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HAF21 Shortlists 28 In-Development Projects And 15 Work-In-Progress Projects For First Physical Edition Since 2019

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HONG KONG SAR – Media OutReach – 27 February 2023 – The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society (HKIFFS) unveils 28 in-development projects and 15 work-in-progress projects for the 21st Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF21).

HAF21 will take place as a physical, in-person event for the first time since 2019 from 13 – 15 March at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre in conjunction with the 27th Hong Kong Film & TV Market (FILMART).

The 28 in-development projects, covering a potpourri of genres – horror, fantasy, romance, family drama and animation, are shortlisted from 244 submissions from 38 countries and regions. They include seven projects from Hong Kong and eight that passed through HAF Film Lab. Alongside projects from acclaimed filmmakers and producers such as Arsalan AMIRI, Anthony CHEN, Fruit CHAN, Jakrawal NILTHAMRONG, LIN Yu-Hsien, NAI An, Nader SAEIVAR, Teddy Robin, and TIAN Zhuangzhuang are also 14 by budding first-time directors.

The 15 shortlisted work-in-progress projects include three from Hong Kong and eight feature debuts. Emerging and established actors from across Asia, including Fish Liew, Austin Lin, Ma Chih-Hsiang, Matsuda Ryuhei, Wang Xuebing, Wu Kang-Ren, and Zu Feng, top-line many projects. Renowned filmmakers such as Stanley Kwan, Mai Meksawan, and Ram Krishna Pokharel also featured prominently as producers.

HAF introduced the work-in-progress section in 2017 for later-stage projects seeking completion funding, post-production partners, distributors and sales agents, and film festival support, complementing its main programme, which was designed specifically for projects in the pre-production or development stages.

“We look forward to welcoming back filmmakers, industry guests, and friends from the trade media after three virtual editions of the HAF,” HKIFFS Industry Office Director Jacob WONG said. “And HAF21 will again showcase itself as an invaluable platform for new talents and upcoming projects from Asia.”

In-Development Projects (IDP)

HAF Film Lab Projects

HAF Film Lab offers support to new and emerging Chinese-language filmmakers through open lectures, training programmes, and one-on-one bespoke consultations. HAF21 is excited to feature eight Chinese-language projects developed by young filmmakers at last editions’ HAF Film Lab.

They include the winners of the fifth Film Lab’s three script service awards: TANG Peiyan‘s A Better Tomorrow, a coming-of-age drama produced by Anthony CHEN (Ilo Ilo); Frankie LEE‘s Kapok, a drama about a woman burdened by work and family duties who returns to her hometown to find solace, to be produced by Fruit CHAN (Three Husbands); and The Only Way Outdirected by YEUNG Leung-chuen and produced by Jun LI (Drifting), about five lost souls in search of a way out.

Other Film Lab alumni include Hugo in the Pigpen by SHEN Sheng-Ting and SHIH Jing-Ting, a Taiwan-US co-production about a boy who raises a pig with a human body; GUAN Tian‘s The Poison Cat, produced by YANG Chao (Crosscurrent), is about an enslaved woman whose fate entwines with an evil spirit; FAN Ka-chun‘s Stair-away, produced by Teddy Robin (The First Girl I Loved), revolves around a courier, a father searching for his lost son, and the missing head of a girl’s corpse; and The Walking Bird by ZHANG Hanyi (HKIFF40 Firebird Award winner with Life After Life) follows two siblings on a bird hunting adventure.

“We are delighted to bring these projects from Film Lab to the developmental stages within our HAF ecosystem,” Jacob WONG said.

Personal Stories and Adaptations

Two HAF21 projects are drawn from the filmmakers’ personal experiences, while award-winning Chinese-language novels inspire another two.

In The Fruit, produced by Marco MÜLLER, former festival director of Venice, Locarno and Pingyao, director LI Dongmei(Mama, The Ingmar Bergman International Debut Award of the Göteborg Film Festival) tracks the joy and sadness of a woman through pregnancy and miscarriage. In The Last Haven, producer-turned-director ZHANG Jun follows a woman moving back in with her parents after a divorce, only to open old wounds. ZHANG Lu (Yanagawa) produces.

Based on a novel by the late LEE Wei-Jing, The Mermaid’s Tale by Norris WONG (My Prince Edward, Hong Kong Film Awards Best New Director winner) is about a woman searching for a perfect ballroom dancing partner. While ZHAO Jin‘s directorial debut, Non-fiction Stories, adapted from WANG Zhanhei’s novel, examines the hardship of the young working class through the life of a delivery rider. NAI An (The Shadow Play) produces.

Love and Scam

Love and scam form the central theme of several HAF21 projects.

A Divorce by Jevons AU (Trivisa) looks at how a fake divorce turns real when love and trust disappear. Family of Crooks by LAI Kuo-An (whose A Fish Out of Water world premiered in Toronto) is about a family of street opera troupe feigning madness in an insurance scam. The Marriage Drive by Lawrence KAN, produced by industry veteran Cora YIM, tells the story of a couple’s marriage spanning over a decade. In ZHANG Yuxuan‘s China-Thailand-France co-production, Till Forgetfulness Do Us Part, two estranged lovers travel to Thailand to start over. Meanwhile, China’s Fifth Generation great TIAN Zhuangzhuang (The Horse Thief) joins HE Bin (The Crossing) in producing Phakpa‘s Dark Eyes, a tale of first love between a Buddhist monk and a young blind girl that transcends beliefs.

Young and Old

Several non-Chinese language projects, including two featuring resilient elderly women, are also in the mix. In White Snow by Praveen MORCHHALE (Walking with the Wind, winner at India’s National Film Awards), an old woman embarks on an arduous journey to remote villages to show her imprisoned son’s banned film. While in The Witness by Nader SAEIVAR (a co-writer of Jafar PANAHI’s 3 Faces and director of No End, which premiered in Busan), a widow refuses to succumb to political pressure in Iran and publicises everything she knows about a murder.

Pre-teens play the protagonists of Bhunte by Bikas NEUPANE, about a poor village boy in Nepal who dreams of getting a football. In Nagahama (working title) by TANIGUCHI Mio (Hiko and Vega, Grand Prize winner at Aichi International Women’s Film Festival), the friendship of a half-Japanese boy and a boyish Japanese girl leads up to the traditional Nagahama Hikiyama Festival.

Queer Stories from Southeast Asia

Skin Coat
, the only animated project in the HAF21 line-up produced by Anthony CHEN for TAN Wei Keong, depicts a man donning a woman’s skin coat to enter his male lover’s village to meet his parents. In Rhizome, a Thailand-Laos-France co-production by Jakrawal NILTHAMRONG (Tokyo FILMeX Grand Prize winner Anatomy of Time), a Hmong woman who returns to Laos to become a deminer and develops intimate feelings for a Laotian volunteer.

Work-In-Progress Projects (WIP)

Debut projects

Among the feature debut projects are:

  • In A Journey in Spring, filmmakers Peng Tzu-Hui and Wang Ping-Wen follow an old man who puts his wife in a freezer when she passes away suddenly, only to start a journey to face his life regrets.
  • Produced by Zhou Yaowu and directed by Ma Xiang, The Actor stars Wang Xuebing (The Pluto Moment) as an actor who seeks help from a friend with extraordinary power to revive his career.
  • Starring Zu Feng (Summer Of Changsha) and Guo Keyu (Red Cherry), Lin Jianjie’s family drama Brief History of a Familyrevolves around a seemingly harmonious middle-class family disrupted by a mysterious friend of the son.
  • Produced by Stanley Kwan for director Sasha Chuk, Fly Me to the Moon tracks the struggles of two sisters who moved from Hunan to Hong Kong in the 90s, with a cast led by Wu Kang-Ren, Angela Yuen, and Chu Pak-him.
  • Hani by Hou Dasheng is a Yunnan-set drama about a 14-year-old boy who is about to marry a 12-year-old child bride deep in the mountain.
  • Qu Youjia’s She Sat There Like All Ordinary Ones is a coming-of-age drama about two high school students who befriend and reject each other. Xie Meng (Memoria) produced.
  • Starring Austin Lin (IWeirDo) and Esther Liu (Light The Night series), Lien Chien-Hung’s Taiwan and France co-production Salli follow a 38-year-old chicken farmer who starts an online romance with a Frenchman until he disappears. Lee Lieh(Detention) is an executive producer.
  • Patiparn Boontarig’s Solids by the Seashore follows a young Muslim woman who falls for a female activist-turned-visual artist in south Thailand, produced by Mai Meksawan (Manta Ray).

Leading ladies and leading men

Two projects featuring female-driven stories:

  • In Carefree Days, director Liang Ming reunites with his actress Lv Xingchen from Wisdom Tooth (best director winner at HKIFF’s Young Cinema Competition), who plays a young woman whose life collapses when she gets uraemia. Still, she decides to go on a trip with her best friends.
  • Do Fish Sleep with Their Eyes Open? follows a young Chinese woman who starts a new life in Brazil, living with her aunt in a fancy building with hidden stories. Nele Wohlatz (whose The Future Perfect won the best first feature at Locarno) directs this co-production of Brazil, Taiwan, Argentina and Germany.

Projects with top leading men include:

  • Su Hung-En’s suspense thriller Hunter Brothers is about a man who, upon release from jail, attempts to settle unfinished family business with his brother. It stars Ma Chih-Hsiang, Lin Ching-Tai, and Hsu Yi-Fan (all from Seediq Bale).
  • Directed by Peng Tao (Leaving For Love), Listening to the Wind is about a terminally ill man who returns to his hometown with his wife after a long absence, hoping to pay a last visit to his estranged father. It stars Yao Anlian (who won best actor at the Montreal World Film Festival for Factory Boss).
  • Kwan Man-hin’s The Remnant is about a former gangster boss who comes out of retirement when residents in his poor neighbourhood are threatened with eviction, with Philip Keung, Fish Liew and Ling Man-lung in the cast.

The two non-Chinese language projects are

  • Guras by Saurav Rai (whose Nimtoh’ Invitation’ won the grand jury prize at Jio MAMI Film Festival) follows the mystical journey of a nine-year-old Nepali girl in search of her lost dog. Ram Krishna Pokharel, a winner of a Sports Emmy Award, was the producer.
  • Who Were We? by Tomina Tetsuya (whose Blue Wind Blows premiered at Berlinale’s Generation Kplus) explores the inexplicable love between a man and a woman with no memory of the past. The film stars Matsuda Ryuhei (Before We Vanish) and Komatsu Nana (Moonlight Shadow).

Details of HAF21

All shortlisted projects will feature in an open pitch session at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Representatives of each work-in-progress project will introduce their projects and showcase footage of their films on 13 March 2023. All HAF and FILMART badge holders are welcome to participate. Details of the session are as follows:

Date: 13-15 March 2023 (WIP Open Pitch Session: 13 March 2023)
Time: 14:00 – 18:00 (Hong Kong Time)
Venue: Starlight Theatre, Hall 1
Remarks: HAF/FILMART badge holders may attend

Guest Accreditation for HAF21

HAF21 guest registration is now open to investors, festival programmers and other industry professionals through https://Industry.hkiff.org.hk/guest-registration. Once accredited, all guests can schedule one-on-one meetings with filmmakers to discuss their projects.

Please refer to the Appendix for details on all shortlisted in-development projects. For more up-to-date information about HAF21, please visit our official website at https://Industry.hkiff.org.hk or our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hkiffindustry/.

Some Milestones for HAF Projects in 2022

  • Kai KO’s Bad Education (HAF18, 2020) won Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Horse Film Awards in Taiwan
  • YANG Lina’s Song of Spring (HAF18, 2020) won Best Actress at the Beijing International Film Festival
  • LAU Kok Rui’s The Sunny Side of the Street (HAF18, 2020) won Best Leading Actor, Best New Director, and Best Original Screenplay at the Golden Horse Film Awards in Taiwan
  • HUANG Ji and OTSUKA Ryuji’s Stonewalling (HAF16, 2018) world premiered at Venice’s Giornate degli Autori and won Best Screenplay at the World Film Festival of Bangkok
  • Lav DIAZ’s When the Waves Are Gone (HAF14, 2016) world premiered out of competition at Venice Film Festival

To download information:

Hashtag: #HAF21

The issuer is solely responsible for the content of this announcement.

Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF)

The Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) is widely recognised as Asia’s premier film financing platform. HAF brings Asian filmmakers with upcoming film projects to Hong Kong for co-production ventures with top film financiers, producers, bankers, funding bodies, sales agents, distributors, and buyers. Around 30 in-development projects (IDP) and ten work-in-progress projects (WIP) are selected annually to participate in the three-day event attended by more than 1,000 filmmakers and financiers from over 35 countries and regions. HAF has the added advantage of being held in conjunction with Hong Kong FILMART, Asia’s largest film market, attracting over 8,000 professionals.

HAF enhances the prospects of the participating projects through close collaborations with international organisations such as iQIYI (Mainland China), Fox International Productions (Greater China), Cinemart (the Netherlands), Asian Project Market (South Korea), Golden Horse Film Project Promotion (Taiwan), MIA (Italy) and more. Cash and in-kind awards to the value of around US$250,000 are made with support from Create Hong Kong and Film Development Fund, among others.

About Hong Kong International Film Festival Industry Office (HKIFF Industry)
To promote and support the film industry development more effectively, The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society restructured its industry services and set up Hong Kong International Film Festival Industry Office (HKIFF Industry) in 2021. From polishing up projects with a better appeal (HAF Film Lab) to getting them off the ground and finding post-production assistance (Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF)), to exposing the projects in major international platforms (HAF Goes to Cannes), and on to planning the career of finished films (HKIFF Collection), HKIFF Industry offers independent filmmakers comprehensive services and windows to the world.

About The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society Limited (HKIFFS)
The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society Limited (HKIFFS) is a charitable, non-profit and non-governmental organisation dedicated to discovering and promoting creativity in film’s art and culture. It organises the annual Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) and the Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF). Another highlight is the Cine Fan Summer International Film Festival (SummerIFF) held every August. In 2013, HKIFF introduced the repertory HKIFF Cine Fan Programme to enrich and deepen Hong Kong moviegoers’ experience through a monthly programme of contemporary, retrospective, and thematic showcases. In 2021, HKIFFS restructured its film industry services and set up HKIFF Industry to promote and support non-mainstream film industry development through co-production and festival strategies and overseas distribution (HKIFF Collection).

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