Ethnic Minorities in Spotlight at Hong Kong Asian Project Market

Historically, ethnic minorities around the world have suffered, and 2019 sees no change in this regard. A brace of HAF projects highlight some of the problems faced by them.

From Iran, Arsalan Amiri’s horror/black comedy “Zalava” is set in a village terrified by demonic possession, where a young, agnostic police officer arrests challenges local beliefs by arresting an exorcist on fraud charges when he claims to capture an invisible demon.

“Zalava,” which is the name of the village where the film is set, is informed by Amiri’s experience as a member of the Kurdish ethnic minority in Iran. “Middle East nations cannot escape the burden of thousands of years of religions and belief, and remain trapped in wars, killings and hatred with no hope for possible solution for peace,” says Amiri in his director’s statement. “I want to depict this agonizing dilemma in my film.”

“Nahid,” written by Amiri and Ida Panahandeh, who also directed, won the Avenir Award at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard in 2015. The pair also collaborated on 2017’s “Israfil” and Hong Kong-Japan co-production “The Nikaidos’ Fall,” executive-produced by Naomi Kawase, which is a selection at this year’s Hong Kong Intl. Film Festival.

Panahandeh produces for Evareh Film Studio, alongside Yoshie Ruth Linton, who also worked on “The Nikaidos’ Fall” and whose other credits include 2016’s “The Wolf of the East.” The budget is $300,000.

Abid Hossain Khan’s “Belonging” follows a 6-year-old girl as she searches for her parents, who are refugees belonging to the minority Rohingya community in Myanmar and have sought asylum across the border in Bangladesh.

“This project reveals the plight of the Rohingya people, forced to leave their home, their families and their loved ones,” says Khan in his director’s statement. “Yet, at the same time, it explores their resilience amidst all the challenges stacked against them to survive and build a new life in a new landscape.”

Khan’s 2016 short “20 Continuous Shots Followed by Siddhartha” scored nominations at Italy’s Montecatini short film festival and at the Rio de Janeiro Curta Cinema.

Rubaiyat Hossain and Aadnan Imtiaz Ahmed (“Simantorekha”) are producing “Belonging” for Khona Talkies. The budget is $272,000.

Hossain is one of the few women filmmakers from Bangladesh. Her films “Meherjaan” and “Under Construction” have won awards around the world. “Made in Bangladesh,” directed by her and co-produced by Ahmed, is completing post-production. France’s Pyramide Films is handling worldwide sales.



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