'Hennessy,' 'Dream' open 24th annual film event

The 34th Hong Kong Film Festival kicked off Sunday with the twin bows of Ivy Ho’s comedy “Crossing Hennessy” and Clara Law’s “Like a Dream” at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.

Meanwhile, a slew of sales were announced by Korean companies on the eve of the Filmart film and TV market and the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF), which both open today.

More than 900 guests attended Sunday’s opening, including thesp Karena Lam, multihyphenate Derek Tsang and helmer Brillante Mendoza, a member of the fest jury.

“Crossing Hennessy” marked the return to the screen of thesp Tang Wei, banned from filmmaking by the Chinese censors for her racy role in Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution.”

The event was co-hosted by Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan, secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, and Wilfred Wong, chairman of the Hong Kong Film Festival Society.

“With double the number of films from Hong Kong — eight of them world premieres — and a total of 31 Chinese-language films this year … join us in celebrating a new renaissance of filmmaking in Greater China,” said Wong.

More than 500 exhibitors from 20 countries and regions are taking part in Filmart.

Organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the event will feature more than 250 film screenings and 60 seminars and networking sessions.

Among deals already firmed up at the mart: Korea’s Finecut has sold its John H. Lee’s war drama “71 – Into the Fire” to Showbox for U.K. The deal was closed based on the four-minute promo that aired at the EFM in February.

“71 – Into the Fire” tells a true story of 71 student soldier trainees who fought against North Korea and commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. Pic is produced by Taewon Jung and will be released in Korea in June.

Finecut also sold “A Brand New Life” by Ounie Lecomte to Taiwan’s Joint Entertainment. Pic got a special mention in Berlin’s Generation Kplus section. It has sold to France, Japan, Hong Kong, Israel and Thailand.

Korea’s M-Line Distribution pre-sold helmer by Lee Joon-ik’s historical drama “Blades of Blood,” about two legendary swordsmen, to Splendid for Germany and Benelux and VIP888 for South America.

The company also sold comedy sequel “Le Grand Chef 2: Kimchi Battle” to BlueMedia for China, Festive Films for Singapore and J-Bics for Thailand, and comic actioner “The Righteous Thing” to Taiwan’s Eagle.

(Han Sunhee in Seoul contributed to this report.)

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