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HAF Project Market Selection Mixes Asian Auteurs With Newcomers

New film pitches by Jun Robles Lana, Barbara Wong, Ryuskue Hamaguchi and Tom Lin are among a line-up of 23 projects selected to appear at the Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF). The event also sees an expanded roster of prizes and partnerships.

HAF will be held March 18-20, 2019 in Hong Kong. It runs alongside the FilMart rights market, Hong Kong International Film Festival, and Asian Film Awards.

Organizers report that they received some 350 project submissions from 10 countries and territories. The retained projects, which are seeking co-production, finance and sales partners, have target production budgets ranging from $200,000 to $10 million.

Wong (“Perfect Wedding,” “The Stolen Years”) will present “The Wedding Celebrant,” a story of a wedding official who questions her own relationship. Philippines-based “Bwakaw,” and “Die Beautiful” director, Jun Robles Lana presents survival drama “Between Sea and Sky,” a fact-based story of a Filipino fisherman who was rescued in Papua New Guinea after drifting at sea for 56 days. Another Filipino star director, Mikhail Red presents “The Grandstand,” another dramatization of real events. It follows the 2010 Manila hostage crisis, in which a disgruntled police officer seized a bus filled with Hong Kong tourists.

Japanese director Hamaguchi, whose “Asako I & II” played in competition last year in Cannes, examines non-traditional sexual orientations in Paris-set “Our Apprenticeship.” Lin’s “Life’s A Struggle” is a musical biography, examining the lives of Taiwanese rapper Shawn “M80” Sung, and his younger brother Ting, both living in Los Angeles as parachute kids, and who created the most famous Mandarin hip-hop song in history.

HAF also invited six projects from mainland China. They include new works by: Zhao Liang, the documentary “Ship of Fools – Pandora’s Box”; Zhao Wenjia’s comedy-drama “A Story of Hers”; Liu Miaomiao bipolar disorder drama “12 x 4”; Renai Wei Yongyao’s supernatural suspense-drama “The Priest in the Village”; Zhu Xin’s second feature, “Who is Sleeping on My Pillow”; and Chen Cheng’s atypical love story, “Through the Crack of the Parallel Universe.”

“The number of first-time directors, along with returning and established filmmakers, coming to this year’s HAF stands as testament to our ability to help develop and promote cinematic and artistic creativity in the region,” said Jacob Wong, HAF director.

The new partnership with the Udine Far East Film Festival sees the Italian festival select one HAF project with potential for European co-production to appear in its own FEFF Project Market, in April.

Heaven Pictures (HK) Culture and Media, and Artention-Vanke Cultural Industry will swell the roster of prizes awarded to the top HAF projects. The Heaven Pictures prize for young Hong Kong film makers is worth some $19,000 (HK$150,000). The Artention prize provides $12,800 (HK$100,000) in cash and free access to designated space in the Artention-Vanke Creative Arts Incubator in Shenzhen, China.

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