Asia confab lacks pacts, earns praise

Filmmakers intro'd, financing in HK discussed

HONG KONG — The first Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum ended Sunday without any firm film-project financing commitments, but with a great deal of praise for the new market.

Funded from the HK$100 million ($12.8 million) film industry revitalization fund, the $500,000 initiative was established to introduce Asian filmmakers to co-producers, investors and mainstream film biz financiers.

Headed by Fortissimo Film Sales Asian director Wouter Barendrecht with superstar Jackie Chan as honorary forum president, the organizers pulled together over 250 professionals from North America, Europe and Asia.

Media Asia Films exec director Thomas Chung set the tone of the forum: “In Hong Kong, for the last eight or so years, films have been made in a very elementary way. Mortgaging our homes, borrowing from relatives are all ways of the past. We can no longer run the making of films as a cottage industry. Our government, banks and other members of the industry must structure a financing framework to help grow our industry.”

Offering 23 films from 10 Asian countries for funding, forum director Barendrecht saw the market as a platform to facilitate networking.

Veteran film financier Frans Afman said that doing business in Asia where contract law was not yet an established practice was “an evolutionary process. Business needs to touch on the ethical and cultural values of each area. In the end, you need to make the deal work,” he said.

Annie Mather, director of Far East acquisitions for Hong Kong-based Entertainment in Motion said that the market was “a fantastic opportunity to meet with mainstream industry people that were willing to talk to you. Basically, it has been a primer in how to raise money.”

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