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IFFAM: Project Pitching Gets Lively Start at Macao’s Crouching Tigers Market

Star directing names Nicolas Winding Refn, Lu Chuan and Erik Matti encounter top film industry executives including Fox International Productions chief Tomas Jegeus and Ivanhoe Pictures’ Katherine Lee in the first edition of the IFFAM’s Crouching Tigers Project Lab.

Launched as part of the infant festival’s Industry Hub, Crouching Tigers is intended to act as a place where filmmakers can find finance and co-production opportunities.

The Lab presents 12 projects from Asia and beyond. The inaugural selection includes nine genre film projects (six selected by IFFAM; and one each from Blood Window of Ventana Sur, the Sitges Project Lab and Frontieres International Co-Production Market) and three non-genre projects.

Among the projects are Danish filmmaker Refn’s Denmark-France-U.K. co-production “The Avenging Silence,” which is seeking distribution and financing. The project was pitched by producer Lene Borglum, who co-founded production company Space Rocket with Refn. Borglum said that “Silence” is the story of a former European spy who accepts a mission from a Japanese businessman to take down the head of a Yakuza boss in Japan. The pitch included the trailer screening of Refn’s latest, “The Neon Demon.”

Selected by Frontieres, Laos director Mattie Do’s supernatural drama “The Long Walk” was also pitched. It is aiming to seek a co-producer and financing for its $306,000 budget. Some $57,500 has been secured so far. The story revolves around an old man who discovers a supernatural being that can transport him back in time, to the moment of his mother’s death. Having started with “Chanthaly,” the country’s ninth feature film in history, Do is Laos first female director and gaining a smart reputation overseas.

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Also pitched was “Breaking Point,” a co-production between Vietnam and the U.S. Directed by Vietnamese-American Ham Tran, whose debut feature “Journey from the Fall” premiered in Sundance in 2006, the project is produced by Anderson Le, the Hawaii Film Festival’s director of programming. It is set as a story of return, which sees a U.S.-based martial arts fighter go back to his home country Vietnam after spending a decade in prison. In pre-production, the action thriller project will star Vietnamese-American actor Johnny Tri Nguyen (“The Rebel”,) who is also the brother of hit filmmaker Charlie Nguyen (“Let Hoi Decide”.)

“Johnny speaks very fluent English and Vietnamese. (As a co-production between Vietnam and the U.S.) this genre film, which normally matters more in Southeast Asia, can also appeal to outside the region,” said Le during the pitch.

After the three-day run of the project market, Fox International Productions will present three cash awards of $20,000, while Ivanhoe Pictures and China’s Huace Media will each donate $10,000 to outstanding projects. The winners will be announced during on Dec. 11.

Along with Jegeus and Lee, other jurors include Jane Wan of Huace, and Todd Brown of sales-acquisition company XYZ Films.

Brown, who was also among the project market selectors, told Variety: “The quality of these projects is very good. It is quite certain that some will make it into production soon.”

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