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EST Studios, the film company established this year by 88Rising co-founder Jaeson Ma and former Vice Media executive Eric Tu, has struck a partnership arrangement with China’s Hugoeast Media.

The partnership is looking at an initial slate of eight projects, with EST Studios representing sales at the major film markets including the upcoming Asian Contents and Film Market and Asian Project Market at the Busan International Film Festival.

EST will be the exclusive representative for Hugoeast’s titles in North America. In other territories (outside of China) it will handle them on a non-exclusive basis.

The first title on the sales slate is “B For Busy,” which will have its international premiere in Busan on Oct. 6, 2022, as part of the A Window on Asian Cinema section. Written and directed by Shao Yihui, the film (previously called “Myth of Love”) is a comedy set in Shanghai about three middle-aged divorcees and a divorced man on a journey to find love.

It portrays a microcosmic view of life in China’s most cosmopolitan city and overturns traditional gender roles through female characters who directly express their wants and needs and a middle-aged male character who loves to cook. “B For Busy” stars Xu Zheng (“Dying to Survive,” “Lost In” franchise), Ma Yili (“The First Half of My Life”), Wu Yue, Ni Hongjie and Zhou Yemang. Production is by Chen Lizhi and Ye Ting.

Hugoeast is a Beijing-based company that has distributed more than 200 international arthouse films in China, since being established in 2016. It acquires classic films, discovers new gems, focuses on women’s perspectives, and strives for a more diversified culture.

EST describes its mission as “bringing a wealth of knowledge in the Asia-based investment, entertainment, and technology industries to forge new partnerships [..] and introduce new premium Asian film and television IP to global audiences.” In addition to production and financing, it targets an annual sales slate of 15 titles.

The deal for the partnership between the two companies was negotiated by Wei Tenten, Michelle Lee and Zhang Juefang for EST and by Vivian Ying and Bai Ruotian for Hugoeast.

Additional films on the new slate include: “The Wanderer” the feature debut of female director Tang Ziyu, which played at the 2022 Mulan Film Festival; “So Long Summer Vacation,” from first time director Bo Ren Bo; “River of Salvation,” from debut director Gao Linyang, which played at both the First Film Festival and Beijing International Film festival in 2021; “Model,” the debut film another female director Jing Ran, which played at the Shanghai International Film Festival and at Asian American International Film Festival.

The slate also includes “Being Mortal,” from director Liu Ze, and which played at the New York City Independent Film Festival and Paris International Film Festival; “Spring Tide,” directed by Lina Yang which played the Shanghai International Film Festival and 2022 Helsinki Cinema Asia festival; and director Xu Chuang’s “Twinkle Dammit!,” which played at the Shanghai International Film Festival and was a finalist for the 46th Student Academy Awards.   

 “Staying true to EST’s mission of ‘uncovering the greatest stories never told,’ these films spotlight Asian stories with a female-driven perspective. We are excited to share the meaningful works of these talented filmmakers to audiences worldwide,” said Zhang.

“It is such a pleasure to partner with EST to empower the Asian content globally. We are always striving for a more diversified culture,” said Bai, international sales executive at Hugoeast.  

Other titles recently introduced by EST include: “Dawning,” the directorial-debut feature of Korean-American filmmaker Young Min Kim; “Maika,” which premiered in the 2022 Sundance Film Festival Kids section; and 2022 Sundance official selection “Every Day in Kaimuki.” It is involved in the production of “K-Pops!,” directed by Grammy winner Anderson Paak, and the documentary “Hidden Letters.”