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FILMART off and running

The world’s third biggest entertainment market event got out of the blocks in Hong Kong Monday.

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Some interesting announcements were prepped and ready to go on the market’s opening day, not least of which was Fox’s decision to emulate HBO Asia by making English-language mini-series in the region. While HBO has based its miniseries out of Singapore, with Serangoon Road and Grace screening on its Asian platforms, Fox plans to work out of Hong Kong and make two series this year, committing to a US$1 million/hour production budget.

The story first appeared in the Monday edition of the South China Morning Post.

Auckland-based Milt Barlow, formerly of China Lion and supplier of much of Event Cinemas’ Cinema Asia programming via his Asia Releasing and Incubate companies, announced a deal through Variety for the U.S. release of Alec Siu’s Left Ear. Barlow, who will add a VOD service to his offer later this year, was busy taking meetings at FILMART to secure more product.

Toa Fraser’s The Dead Lands was reviewed in The Hollywood Reporter’s market daily on Monday. Distributor XYZ Films will give it a market screening on Thursday.

The market floor was busy on the opening day, when several of the local production companies also held press conferences announcing their 2015 slates. Several of those major production companies, some of them flush with cash from co-production projects with mainland China over the last couple of years, revamped their already impressive stands.

The Singaporeans traditionally host a party on the first afternoon of the market. This year the party commenced with a minute’s silence – no mean feat in a busy market hall – to mark the death of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding PM who led the country for 31 years and died a few hours before the market opened. 2015 is the 50th anniversary of independence for the city state.

SGIFF director Yuni Hadi was present to support the Singapore party. Hadi produced Anthony Chen’s multi-award winner Ilo Ilo. She had good things to say about Max Currie’s Everything We Loved which played the SGIFF last December.

At the end of the first day of the market the Entertainment Expo, the umbrella for FILMART and nine other events, held its opening ceremony, quickly followed by the opening of the Hong Kong International Film Festival.

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(from left): Murmur of the Hearts director Sylvia Chang, cast members Angelica Lee, Isabella Leong, Hsiao-chuan (Joseph) Chang and Lawrence Ko

The red carpet was considerably quieter this year than last, when two Hong Kong ensemble titles opened the festival, ensuring a very solid turnout of Hong Kong actors and celebrities. This year was a more dignified affair with Sylvia Chang, the HKIFF’s filmmaker focus and director of opening feature Murmur of the Hearts, the most respected of the guests.

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.

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