The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society (HKIFFS) and China’s Heaven Pictures announced that they will award six Asian filmmakers RMB1 million ($145,000) in a joint project to demonstrate how high-quality films can still be made inexpensively.
The six films that emerge from the new initiative, titled “Back to Basics (B2B): A Love Supreme,” will be co-produced by the two entities and released over the next three years. HKIFFS will handle international sales and festival strategies, while Heaven Pictures will handle mainland distribution.
Participating directors include Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-Liang (“Vive L’Amour,” “Stray Dogs”), Japan’s Ishii Yuya (“The Great Passage,” “The Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Densest Shade of Blue”), Korean-Chinese director Zhang Lu (“Doorman River,” “Fukuoka”), Chinese independent filmmaker Yang Jin (“The Black and White Milk Cow,” “Don’t Expect Praises,”), Malaysian New Wave director Tan Chui Mui (“Love Conquers All,” “Year Without a Summer”), and Hong Kong director Philip Yung, whose “Port of Call” won seven Hong Kong Film Awards in 2015.
“We aim to strip away the artifice of much contemporary movie-making, returning cinema to something raw and exciting,” said Jacob Wong, director of HKIFFS’ Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) and Film Industry Services Office.
“We hope to tap into the amazing potential of film made under a limited budget, and to explore creative inspiration and embrace the core values of filmmaking,” Heaven Pictures GM Yang Jin said.
His company also announced another initiative, “The X Directors Project,” which seeks to support young directors. The three Chinese directors participating are Peng Tao (“The Cremator”); Xu Lei, whose first film “Have Your Name Carved” won third prize for best debut feature at last year’s Montreal Intl. Film Festival; and Qiu Jiongjiong, whose 2015 work “Chi (Mr. Zhang Believes)” played at the Locarno Film Festival and was shown at MoMA in New York.
A number of directors took to the stage at a Shanghai International Film Festival press conference to thank Heaven Pictures for its support over the years. “If you’re a novelist, people are used to giving you time to grow as a writer,” director Peng said. “But nowadays, the film world doesn’t give you the space to slowly mature over time. You’re mostly expected to step out and immediately be a very mature artist from the get go. Heaven Pictures was never like that — they had the patience to let you grow step by step.”