HONG KONG SAR –
Media OutReach – 27 February 2023 – The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society (HKIFFS) unveils 28 in-development projects and 15 work-in-progress projects for the 21st Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF21).
HAF21 will take place as a physical, in-person event for the first time since 2019 from 13 – 15 March at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre in conjunction with the 27th Hong Kong Film & TV Market (FILMART).
The 28 in-development projects, covering a potpourri of genres – horror, fantasy, romance, family drama and animation, are shortlisted from 244 submissions from 38 countries and regions. They include seven projects from Hong Kong and eight that passed through HAF Film Lab. Alongside projects from acclaimed filmmakers and producers such as Arsalan AMIRI, Anthony CHEN, Fruit CHAN, Jakrawal NILTHAMRONG, LIN Yu-Hsien, NAI An, Nader SAEIVAR, Teddy Robin, and TIAN Zhuangzhuang are also 14 by budding first-time directors.
The 15 shortlisted work-in-progress projects include three from Hong Kong and eight feature debuts. Emerging and established actors from across Asia, including Fish Liew, Austin Lin, Ma Chih-Hsiang, Matsuda Ryuhei, Wang Xuebing, Wu Kang-Ren, and Zu Feng, top-line many projects. Renowned filmmakers such as Stanley Kwan, Mai Meksawan, and Ram Krishna Pokharel also featured prominently as producers.
HAF introduced the work-in-progress section in 2017 for later-stage projects seeking completion funding, post-production partners, distributors and sales agents, and film festival support, complementing its main programme, which was designed specifically for projects in the pre-production or development stages.
“We look forward to welcoming back filmmakers, industry guests, and friends from the trade media after three virtual editions of the HAF,” HKIFFS Industry Office Director Jacob WONG said. “And HAF21 will again showcase itself as an invaluable platform for new talents and upcoming projects from Asia.”
In-Development Projects (IDP)
HAF Film Lab Projects
HAF Film Lab offers support to new and emerging Chinese-language filmmakers through open lectures, training programmes, and one-on-one bespoke consultations. HAF21 is excited to feature eight Chinese-language projects developed by young filmmakers at last editions’ HAF Film Lab.
They include the winners of the fifth Film Lab’s three script service awards:
A Better Tomorrow, a coming-of-age drama produced by Anthony CHEN (Ilo Ilo);
Kapok, a drama about a woman burdened by work and family duties who returns to her hometown to find solace, to be produced by Fruit CHAN (Three Husbands); and
The Only Way Outdirected by
YEUNG Leung-chuen and produced by Jun LI (Drifting), about five lost souls in search of a way out.
Other Film Lab alumni include
Hugo in the Pigpen by
SHEN Sheng-Ting and
SHIH Jing-Ting, a Taiwan-US co-production about a boy who raises a pig with a human body;
The Poison Cat, produced by YANG Chao (Crosscurrent), is about an enslaved woman whose fate entwines with an evil spirit;
Stair-away, produced by Teddy Robin (The First Girl I Loved), revolves around a courier, a father searching for his lost son, and the missing head of a girl’s corpse; and
The Walking Bird by
ZHANG Hanyi (HKIFF40 Firebird Award winner with Life After Life) follows two siblings on a bird hunting adventure.
“We are delighted to bring these projects from Film Lab to the developmental stages within our HAF ecosystem,” Jacob WONG said.
Personal Stories and Adaptations
Two HAF21 projects are drawn from the filmmakers’ personal experiences, while award-winning Chinese-language novels inspire another two.
The Fruit, produced by Marco MÜLLER, former festival director of Venice, Locarno and Pingyao, director
LI Dongmei(Mama, The Ingmar Bergman International Debut Award of the Göteborg Film Festival) tracks the joy and sadness of a woman through pregnancy and miscarriage. In
The Last Haven, producer-turned-director ZHANG Jun follows a woman moving back in with her parents after a divorce, only to open old wounds. ZHANG Lu (Yanagawa) produces.
Based on a novel by the late LEE Wei-Jing,
The Mermaid’s Tale by
Norris WONG (My Prince Edward, Hong Kong Film Awards Best New Director winner) is about a woman searching for a perfect ballroom dancing partner. While
ZHAO Jin’s directorial debut,
Non-fiction Stories, adapted from WANG Zhanhei’s novel, examines the hardship of the young working class through the life of a delivery rider. NAI An (The Shadow Play) produces.
Love and Scam
Love and scam form the central theme of several HAF21 projects.
A Divorce by
Jevons AU (Trivisa) looks at how a fake divorce turns real when love and trust disappear.
Family of Crooks by
LAI Kuo-An (whose
A Fish Out of Water world premiered in Toronto) is about a family of street opera troupe feigning madness in an insurance scam.
The Marriage Drive by
Lawrence KAN, produced by industry veteran Cora YIM, tells the story of a couple’s marriage spanning over a decade. In
ZHANG Yuxuan’s China-Thailand-France co-production,
Till Forgetfulness Do Us Part, two estranged lovers travel to Thailand to start over. Meanwhile, China’s Fifth Generation great TIAN Zhuangzhuang (The Horse Thief) joins HE Bin (The Crossing) in producing
Phakpa’s Dark Eyes, a tale of first love between a Buddhist monk and a young blind girl that transcends beliefs.
Young and Old
Several non-Chinese language projects, including two featuring resilient elderly women, are also in the mix. In
White Snow by
Praveen MORCHHALE (Walking with the Wind, winner at India’s National Film Awards), an old woman embarks on an arduous journey to remote villages to show her imprisoned son’s banned film. While in
The Witness by
Nader SAEIVAR (a co-writer of Jafar PANAHI’s
3 Faces and director of
No End, which premiered in Busan), a widow refuses to succumb to political pressure in Iran and publicises everything she knows about a murder.
Pre-teens play the protagonists of
Bikas NEUPANE, about a poor village boy in Nepal who dreams of getting a football. In
Nagahama (working title) by
TANIGUCHI Mio (Hiko and Vega, Grand Prize winner at Aichi International Women’s Film Festival), the friendship of a half-Japanese boy and a boyish Japanese girl leads up to the traditional Nagahama Hikiyama Festival.
Queer Stories from Southeast Asia
Skin Coat, the only animated project in the HAF21 line-up produced by Anthony CHEN for
TAN Wei Keong, depicts a man donning a woman’s skin coat to enter his male lover’s village to meet his parents. In
Rhizome, a Thailand-Laos-France co-production by Jakrawal NILTHAMRONG (Tokyo FILMeX Grand Prize winner Anatomy of Time), a Hmong woman who returns to Laos to become a deminer and develops intimate feelings for a Laotian volunteer.
Work-In-Progress Projects (WIP)
Among the feature debut projects are:
In A Journey in Spring, filmmakers Peng Tzu-Hui and Wang Ping-Wen follow an old man who puts his wife in a freezer when she passes away suddenly, only to start a journey to face his life regrets.
Produced by Zhou Yaowu and directed by Ma Xiang,
The Actor stars Wang Xuebing (The Pluto Moment) as an actor who seeks help from a friend with extraordinary power to revive his career.
Starring Zu Feng (Summer Of Changsha) and Guo Keyu (Red Cherry), Lin Jianjie’s family drama
Brief History of a Familyrevolves around a seemingly harmonious middle-class family disrupted by a mysterious friend of the son.
Produced by Stanley Kwan for director Sasha Chuk,
Fly Me to the Moon tracks the struggles of two sisters who moved from Hunan to Hong Kong in the 90s, with a cast led by Wu Kang-Ren, Angela Yuen, and Chu Pak-him.
Hani by Hou Dasheng is a Yunnan-set drama about a 14-year-old boy who is about to marry a 12-year-old child bride deep in the mountain.
She Sat There Like All Ordinary Ones is a coming-of-age drama about two high school students who befriend and reject each other. Xie Meng (Memoria) produced.
Starring Austin Lin (IWeirDo) and Esther Liu (Light The Night series), Lien Chien-Hung’s Taiwan and France co-production
Salli follow a 38-year-old chicken farmer who starts an online romance with a Frenchman until he disappears. Lee Lieh(Detention) is an executive producer.
Solids by the Seashore follows a young Muslim woman who falls for a female activist-turned-visual artist in south Thailand, produced by Mai Meksawan (Manta Ray).
Leading ladies and leading men
Two projects featuring female-driven stories:
Carefree Days, director Liang Ming reunites with his actress Lv Xingchen from
Wisdom Tooth (best director winner at HKIFF’s Young Cinema Competition), who plays a young woman whose life collapses when she gets uraemia. Still, she decides to go on a trip with her best friends.
Do Fish Sleep with Their Eyes Open? follows a young Chinese woman who starts a new life in Brazil, living with her aunt in a fancy building with hidden stories. Nele Wohlatz (whose
The Future Perfect won the best first feature at Locarno) directs this co-production of Brazil, Taiwan, Argentina and Germany.
Projects with top leading men include:
Su Hung-En’s suspense thriller
Hunter Brothers is about a man who, upon release from jail, attempts to settle unfinished family business with his brother. It stars Ma Chih-Hsiang, Lin Ching-Tai, and Hsu Yi-Fan (all from
Directed by Peng Tao (Leaving For Love),
Listening to the Wind is about a terminally ill man who returns to his hometown with his wife after a long absence, hoping to pay a last visit to his estranged father. It stars Yao Anlian (who won best actor at the Montreal World Film Festival for
The Remnant is about a former gangster boss who comes out of retirement when residents in his poor neighbourhood are threatened with eviction, with Philip Keung, Fish Liew and Ling Man-lung in the cast.
The two non-Chinese language projects are
Guras by Saurav Rai (whose
Nimtoh’ Invitation’ won the grand jury prize at Jio MAMI Film Festival) follows the mystical journey of a nine-year-old Nepali girl in search of her lost dog. Ram Krishna Pokharel, a winner of a Sports Emmy Award, was the producer.
Who Were We? by Tomina Tetsuya (whose
Blue Wind Blows premiered at Berlinale’s Generation Kplus) explores the inexplicable love between a man and a woman with no memory of the past. The film stars Matsuda Ryuhei (Before We Vanish) and Komatsu Nana (Moonlight Shadow).
Details of HAF21
All shortlisted projects will feature in an open pitch session at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Representatives of each work-in-progress project will introduce their projects and showcase footage of their films on 13 March 2023. All HAF and FILMART badge holders are welcome to participate. Details of the session are as follows:
Date: 13-15 March 2023 (WIP Open Pitch Session: 13 March 2023)
Time: 14:00 – 18:00 (Hong Kong Time)
Venue: Starlight Theatre, Hall 1
Remarks: HAF/FILMART badge holders may attend
Guest Accreditation for HAF21
HAF21 guest registration is now open to investors, festival programmers and other industry professionals through
https://Industry.hkiff.org.hk/guest-registration. Once accredited, all guests can schedule one-on-one meetings with filmmakers to discuss their projects.
Please refer to the
Appendix for details on all shortlisted in-development projects. For more up-to-date information about HAF21, please visit our official website at
https://Industry.hkiff.org.hk or our Facebook page at
Some Milestones for HAF Projects in 2022
Bad Education (HAF18, 2020) won Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Horse Film Awards in Taiwan
Song of Spring (HAF18, 2020) won Best Actress at the Beijing International Film Festival
LAU Kok Rui’s
The Sunny Side of the Street (HAF18, 2020) won Best Leading Actor, Best New Director, and Best Original Screenplay at the Golden Horse Film Awards in Taiwan
HUANG Ji and OTSUKA Ryuji’s
Stonewalling (HAF16, 2018) world premiered at Venice’s Giornate degli Autori and won Best Screenplay at the World Film Festival of Bangkok
When the Waves Are Gone (HAF14, 2016) world premiered out of competition at Venice Film Festival
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