Last year’s Hong Kong FILMART set records for buyer and exhibitor numbers, with 2015 looking set to follow suit later this month.
In 2014 the market hosted over 6,500 attendees, with 772 exhibitors. Just over a week out from its 2015 edition, the numbers are tracking to grow to almost 7,000 attendees, with close to 800 exhibitors. The market’s digital entertainment section has booked 170 exhibitors, of which over 80% are from outside Hong Kong.
Singapore, which celebrates its 50th anniversary of independence later this year, has a strong presence, with the city state’s Media Development Authority leading a delegation which will present c70 film and TV titles. Randy Ang’s independence-themed 1965 and Jack Neo’s recently-opened box office winner Ah Boys to Men 3: Frogmen lead the pack.
Post-Berlin, pre-Cannes, FILMART succeeds as a bridge for many distributors from beyond the Asia-Pacific region.
Last year US distributor Acort gave David Blyth’s Ghost Bride its first market outing at FILMART.
UK distributor Altitude Film Sales’ 2015 offer includes Florian Habicht’s popular doco Pulp: a Film About Life, Death and Supermarkets, which is just about to make a return to NZ screens, and Leanne Pooley’s Edmund Hilary biopic Beyond the Edge.
Among a very strong Australian and US offer, including Robert Connolly’s already award-winning Paper Planes, Arclight has Last Knights from Kazuaki Kiriya (Goemon). The revenge tale features Cliff Curtis; Transmission has already taken ANZ rights.
Last year Cinema Management Group came on board Tammy Davis’ upcoming Board to Dance, which had its first trip to market after commencing principal photography at AFM in November. Cinetel has David Gould’s The Cure, which nestles in a solidly genre bag of titles, many of them with titles ending in -tastrophe or -geddon.
The newest of the bunch with NZ connections is John Maclean’s Michael Fassbender-starring NZ-shot Sundance winner Slow West, produced by Rachel Gardner.
Also Sundance premiered, but in 2014, Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows is selling so well for the Hong Kong Internaional Film Festival that it’s already added an extra screening.
Hanway also picked up a substantial collection of 50+ NZ titles last year, after the NZFC decided to exit the sales business ans secure third party representation for local titles.
The UK’s Protagonist Pictures heads for FILMART off a busy EFM, where it did good sales for much of its new British product, including the upcoming Free Fire from ABCs of Death contributor Ben Wheatley.
Protagonist has Andrew Adamson’s much-delayed Mr Pip. It also brings coals to Newcastle with veteran Hong Kong star Cheng Pei Pei (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; My Wedding & Other Secrets) in Hong Khaou’s British indie Lilting.
Canadian distributor Raven Banner Entertainment last year took Canadian rights for Gerard Johnstone’s Housebound and Canada-NZ co-production Turbo Kid, which premiered successfully at Sundance and is currently playing SXSW just ahead of FILMART.
Raven Banner also had rights for Paul Campion’s follow up to The Devil’s Rock, an adaptation of Brian Keene’s novel Dark Hollow. That project is presently dormant, although Campion himself has been busy, contributing his matte painting skills to a number of British features including the just-released Kingsman: the Secret Service and Matthew Warchus’ BAFTA-winner Pride.
US distributor Vision Films has Matt Pearson’s micro-budget action thriller Contract Killers, which has now done sales into 15 territories including the UK, US and China.
The Works has Girl with a Pearl Earring director Peter Webber’s NZ-shot World War II drama Emperor and, deep in its back catalogue,Vincent Ward’s River Queen and Niki Caro’s Whale Rider.
XYZ Films has Toa Fraser’s The Dead Lands and upcoming 6 Days. The company also recently partnered with Dead Lands producer Matthew Metcalfe’s General Film Corporation to create a joint venture with a stong focus on Australasia and Australasian product.
Away from the direct buying and selling of content rights at FILMART, there are a number of service-based offers. The largest share of those is taken by the film commissions of various nations and regions, working to attract future production by whatever combination of locations, skills, facilities and incentive schemes they can offer. Among the locations offices exhibiting is Asia-Pacific umbrella organisation AFCNet, of which Film NZ, Film Auckland and Film Otago-Southland are members.
FILMART (23 – 26 March) runs as part of the Hong Kong Entertainment Expo. Other events include project market 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), of which the HKIFF is an organiser, runs 25 March in Macau.