BUSAN: Asian Project Market Provides Fertile Soil for Future Films

The 17th BIFF Asian Project Market kicked off on Monday with 30 projects on offer from both veteran foreign directors and young Korean up-and-comers. The market’s track record of success, with 13 projects from previous APMs screening at this year’s festival, is a major drawing point for participants.

“It’s a good place to make a project happen,” says Indonesian director Joko Anwar, a four-time APM attendee, who is pitching his new drama “A Copy of My Mind.” Anwar has prepped with a show reel and other materials, but his targets are less investors – he has raised most of his pic’s $200,000 budget at home – than foreign distributors and festivals. “It’s a kind of publicity being here,” says Anwar. “We can tell the world that we’re doing this new project.”  Starring Chicco Jerikho and Tara Basro as young lovers on society’s margins who find a DVD with damaging revelations about powerful people, “A Copy of My Mind” is scheduled to begin shooting in November and be completed by February.

A first-timer to APM but no stranger to the project markets is Thai director Pen-ek Ratanaruang. The maker of the Thai New Wave sensations “6intynin9,” “Mon-rak Transistor” and “Last Life in the Universe” is personally pitching his new film “Samui Song” with the backing of veteran producer Raymond Phathanavirangoon.” Selling his film, Ratanaruang says with a laugh, is not his forte. “My producers usually forbid me to come,” he explains, “they’re afraid I’ll say something wrong.”

The funds for “Samui Song,” a thriller about a wife who plots to have her husband killed, with unexpected consequences, has already been raised in Thailand. “It’s about $900,000 – somewhat above average for a Thai film,” Ratanaruang explains. His main aim at APM is instead foreign presales. “We started at the Paris Coproduction Village in June,” he says. “There we met mainly European producers and sales agents. Here again we’re seeing a lot of European companies.”

Another motive in coming, he says, is to “meet friends, not pitch,” while repaying an obligation to the festival. “Busan screened my first film 16 years ago, so I do what I can to help them,” he says. “The organizers have always been my strong supporters.”

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