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Filmart gets down and dirty

Among the arthouse fare, award-winning titles of many stripes and the strong showing of Chinese and Korea period dramas, FILMART puts up a huge international genre offer.

Sushi for dinner? Blood Lake

Sushi for dinner? Blood Lake

The increasing American presence has certainly added to that offer in recent years, with a record 47 US companies taking exhibition space on the market floor this year. Around Asia, there are a number of countries who’ve built solid international reputations as creators of genre fare. In and amongst the thousands of titles on offer, several Kiwi films compete for attention.

PUB_BornToDanceSMALLYet to hit screens is Tammy Davis’ debut feature Born to Dance, which Cinema Management Group is presenting.

The film was first presented during production at AFM, and had a new promo cut for Berlin. CMG’s Dené Anderberg reported enthusiastic responses from potential buyers and told SCREENZ she was fielding offers from several territories.

Very busy in the market were US-Australian distributor Arclight (Kazuaki Kiriya’s Last Knights featuring Cliff Curtis) and US-based Cinetel (David Gould’s The Cure).

Dead but won’t lie down
One trend that’s apparent in the overall genre offer at FILMART this year is a marked drop-off in the number of new titles featuring zombies. Things that go bump in the night still make for popular fare, but that particular brain-munching brand of the undead seems to be waning after a strong showing last year.

PUB_NeronThere are a few newer zombie titles shuffling around, including Kumar Patek’s Neron, and, from Kazushi Watanabe, Samurai of the Dead: “samurai vs zombie: probable but unrealized dream battle!”

Hiroshi Shinagawa’s Deadman Inferno is very succinctly titled flick. There’s also Zoombies, in which the four-legged inhabitants of a safari park die, but don’t. There are no prizes for guessing what follows.

British genre specialist Jinga Films presents another form of undead in Ivan Noel’s Argentinian vampire feature Children of the Night. For those who really like to squirm, Jinga also has British director Kate Shenton’s extremely painful-looking On Tender Hooks.

Less limited in dietary preferences than your average zombie, but still not clocking up 72bpm, is a range of titles driven by revenge and involve one or more of: body parts that still function without a body, creatures with a sudden taste for human flesh, and rapidly declining cast numbers.

From Yôhei Fukuda comes Eyes, developed from a short story by Koji Suzuki, writer of the novels on which The Ring and its sequels were based. Also getting a look is Luu Huynh’s The Lost Eyes, part of a small Vietnamese offer which also includes Ham Tran’sHollow.

Lawrence Makaore

Lawrence Makaore in The Dead Lands

There are few new NZ genre titles on offer this year beyond Toa Fraser’s The Dead Lands, which has a market screening on FILMART’s final day. Distributor XYZ Films, which recently announced a broader deal with Dead Lands producer Matthew Metcalfe’s GFC, is also promoting Fraser’s upcoming UK-set 6 Days.

American distributor Acort International, which last year gave David Blyth’s Ghost Bride its first market outing at FILMART, now also has Madellaine Paxson’s Fleur Saville-produced Blood Punch, largely staffed by ex-Power Rangers people.

Lang Tong

Lang Tong

No year is complete without a new splattery comedy from Japan’s Noboru Iguchi, a director who believes no plot hole is too large to fill with blood and gore. Titles from Iguchi’s back catalogue appear on various stands in the market, including Dead Sushi, Zombie Ass: The Toilet of the Dead, Mutant Girls Squad and RoboGeisha.

Iguchi was a contributor to the first ABCs of Death (“F is for Fart”), and this year delivers his own collaboration project, Hentaidan. The film is a graduation piece from a workshop Iguchi ran last year, and had its world premiere last month at the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival.

From elsewhere in Asia, Jo Chien’s The Apostles brings back Josie Ho, whom festival goers may remember as the bloody lead from Pang Ho Cheung’s 2010 chiller Dream Home.

Lee Chung’s Taiwanese title The Laundryman features Singaporean actress Yeo Yann Yann, who also appears in popular sex comedy Rubbers (the promotional giveaways are exactly what the title suggests). Last year Yeo was busy collecting awards for Anthony Chen’s somewhat loftier Ilo Ilo.

Also from Singapore, comes Sam Loh’s Lang Tong: Deadly Delicious. ‘Lang tong’ is Cantonese for ‘nice soup’, so the title is clearly served with a side of irony.

Maybe, Baby
From what’s on offer at FILMART, there are still clear US and Asian markets for female-led action titles, especially those which skimp on plot and wardrobe budgets.

Rand Vosser & Bob Gill’s US title Paranormal Sorority, offers a trio of students whose response to an unleashed demon is to wear very little and wield a chainsaw. Zoe Bell leads a bunch of female Mercenaries in an Asylum title. Asylum also has Asian School Girls, which only really differs from Mercenaries in its choice of uniforms.

Delivering more action and more clothes is Matt Pearson’s Wellington-shot micro-budget feature Contract Killers, which Vision Films has sold into close to 20 territories.

In recent years the Asylum has had its biggest success by reviving the career of 90210 alumnus Ian Ziering, who’s about to fire up the chainsaw for a third time in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No. The Asylum is also offering another former 90210-er, Shannon Doherty, a shot at redemption and sushi in Blood Lake: “thousands of starved lampreys begin attacking the citizens of a sleepy lake town”.


FILMART (23 – 26 March) runs as part of the Hong Kong Entertainment Expo. Other events include the Hong Kong Asia Financing Forum (HAF, 23 – 25 March), the Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF, 23 March – 6 April) and the Hong Kong Film Awards (22 April). The Asian Film Awards (AFA) run 25 March in Macau.