HAF expands despite grim economy

The global financial tsunami has done little to dent the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) this year. Indeed, the project financing event in its seventh year has actually grown a shade, expanding from its usual 25 projects to 27.

“That’s because the quality was good and because looking at the state of the economy, we decided to help out,” HAF director Ivy Ho says. “And there is a good degree of cooperation between HAF and the Hong Kong Intl. Film Festival.”

The fest will screen three films that previously attended HAF as scripts in need of finance, including Ann Hui’s “Night and Fog” in 2005 and which gets its world preem as the fest’s co-opener.

Insulation from the economic chill comes partly from the mart’s lineup. Compared with Rotterdam’s CineMart and the Pusan Promotion Plan, HAF’s selection is slightly less arthouse-oriented, with about a third of the projects being commercial and another third independent or newcomers. Overall, budgets range from $150,000 to $10 million, though Ho admits the average amount of finance in place is probably down compared with previous editions.

Resilience also comes from HAF’s traditionally strong Chinese presence. “Chinese films have not really been greatly affected by the economy; they are still getting funded. But they come to HAF for international audience exposure and the support of foreign distributors,” Ho says.

Over the event’s three days (March 23-25), Ho expects producers and financiers to participate in some 550 HAF-arranged meetings as well as a string of receptions and a dedicated seminar program.

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