The Hong Kong International Film and TV Market (FILMART) 2015 closed last week, with organisers very pleased to report a record 7,100+ buyers, up 6% on 2014’s number. Overseas buyer numbers were up 8%.
Several deals were announced during the market, which was good news as many sellers – Europeans especially – often hold back their sales announcements to lead their positioning ahead of Cannes. Aussie-American company Arclight, which was offering Last Knights featuring Cliff Curtis, announced sales of various titles into a number of Asian territories. One mainland Chinese exhibitor from Hangzhou claimed TV programme sales of US$5.5 million during the marekt’s four days.
Cinema Management Group’s Dené Anderberg was presenting Tammy Davis’ upcoming Born to Dance with the promo cut recently for Berlin. Anderberg reported excitement from potential buyers and said she was “fielding offers from a number of territories”.
The Dead Lands was one of over 400 market screenings, which included over 80 film premieres. Having already sold to most territories, it featured on the UK Film display among the co-production titles. Distributor XYZ (with whom Dead Lands producer Matthew Metcalfe’s GFC has also been doing other business) was looking to tidy up loose ends.
XYZ also had US rights for an independent project which served as an example of the multi-national nature of even independent features, Laotian director Mattie Do’s Dearest Sister. Financed via an innovative and very successful IndieGoGo campaign, and with French and Estonian producers on board, Dearest Sister is the second feature from Laos’ first female feature director and first director to make a genre feature (Chanthaly). Do presented the title at Cannes last year, in the World Cinema Pavilion, and was selected for Toronto’s Talent Lab in September.
As FILMART closed North American genre distributor, Canada’s Raven Banner, announced it had joined the project, taking worldwide rights.
Auckland-based Milt Barlow was busy looking for Asian fare for his Asia Releasing distribution company, and also for his upcoming VOD service Chopflix. Barlow told SCREENZ he expected to launch Chopflix with c600 titles, and while at FILMART announced deals with Korea’s M-Line and the US’ Funimation.
One of Hong Kong’s key selling points to all manner of industries is as “the gateway to China”. For FILMART, that message was resonating loud and clear on the back of the news that in February China’s box office took more than the USA’s.
The margins were slim, highly influenced by seasonal factors (Chinese New Year sees several major Chinese features released), but nonetheless significant. 47 US companies exhibited at FILMART, with the US Commercial Service assisting over 220 Asian buyers to attend FILMART.
As well as FILMART’s position as a gateway to China, a number of the Australian producers present as part of a Screen Producers Australia-led delegation commented that FILMART had proved a very good place to meet with some of their UK and US contacts – especially compared with Cannes and Berlin.
Looking for inbound opportunities, Screen Auckland’s Michael Brook had a busy time. Brook is a board member of Korea-headquartered Asia-Pacific umbrella film commission AFCNet, and was able to catch up with colleagues there. Travelling to Hong Kong with NZFC assistance, Brook reported strong enquiries about shooting in Auckland from a number of overseas feature productions he met with during FILMART.
FILMART (23 – 26 March) ran as part of the Hong Kong Entertainment Expo. Other events included the Hong Kong Asia Film 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) ran 25 March in Macau.