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The Kiwis at FILMART

At last month’s FILMART in Hong Kong there was a small if varied range of Kiwi flavours present in the market.

Ghost Bride

Ghost Bride

On the stand of US distributor Acort International was a large poster for David Blyth’s Ghost Bride, produced by Craig Parkes, which premiered at the inaugural Asia Pacific Film Festival in Auckland late last year.

The deal for Acort to represent Ghost Bride had only been done shortly before FILMART. screeNZ spoke at the market to Acort’s Head of International Sales, Dustin Lowry, who said there had already been interest in Ghost Bride, although he expected to give it a stronger presentation – and do more business with it – at Cannes in May.

Pulp: I want to sleep with common people, Like you.

Pulp: I want to sleep with common people,
Like you.

UK distributor Altitude Film Sales had both Florian Habicht’s Pulp and Leanne Pooley’s Toronto-premiered Everest chiller Beyond The Edge, but International Sales Manager Vicki Brown wasn’t willing to discuss the titles, the market or, indeed, pretty much anything.

XYZ Films was riding a bit of a wave with The Raid 2 having already sold every possible right to everywhere, including to Madman for Australia and New Zealand.

XYZ also has international rights for Toa Fraser’s upcoming The Deadlands. Although it’s too early to talk business on Deadlands, Sales Manager Mette-Marie Katz was very happy to say how excited and impressed XYZ had been by the footage seen to date. A Maori Raid? Maybe.

For those who remember Hellboy writer Peter Briggs from his visit here in 2010, he’s still trying to get up the two titles he was pushing while in NZ. UK distributor Carnaby International was repping Briggs’ “coming in 2014” Nazis vs Zombies title Panzer 88, which had picked up pre-sales for Korea, Thailand and Vietnam prior to the market opening.

Elsewhere in Carnaby’s very solid genre slate was Othello, marketed as a “romantic drama”. There are lies, damned lies and distributors, huh!

Two other upcoming titles on offer with more direct NZ relations were Zhong Kui: Snow Girl & the Dark Crystal and Dragon Nest: Rise of the Black Dragon.

Dragon Nest: Never trust a girl with pointy ears who shoots flowers, kid

Dragon Nest: Never trust a girl with pointy ears who shoots flowers, kid

Zhong Kui from Tianyu Zhao (The Law of Attraction) is due next year and stars the very bankable Li Bingbing (Resident Evil: Retribution, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and the upcoming Transformers: Age of Extinction) and Kun Chen (Painted Skin, Let the Bullets Fly, Love on Credit).

The title is currently shooting in China with Weta Workshop having done some design work on the film and Weta Digital also involved with some of the VFX, according to distributors.

Song Yue Feng’s animated feature Dragon Nest: Rise of the Black Dragon credits Grant Major as production designer and has Mili Pictures on board as a producer. It was repped at FILMART by Paris and Hong Kong-based All Rights Entertainment, who presented a market screening.

One suspects the title might be running a little behind its proposed northern hemisphere summer release date. The footage shown at the screening, a six-minute segment which looped, was some way from finished. The title will be released in both English and Chinese language versions.

Wellington producer Alex Clark also attended FILMART with support from the NZFC. There’s a report on what he got up to here.

Across the ditch
Among the Australians present, a change of plans was on the agenda for Arclight. The producer and distributor respectfully announced at FILMART a hold on its plans for Deep Water, a film about a jet that crashes at sea en route for Beijing, in the wake of the loss of Malaysia Airlines’ MH370.

The title comes from the team which brought you sharks-in-the-supermarket Bait 3D. Deep Water was designed as an Australian-Chinese co-production following Bait’s stellar performance in China – a marked contrast to its performance elsewhere.

Bait 3D: Is the tuna on special this week?

Bait 3D: Is the tuna on special this week?

Other Australians in town included reps from the Sydney and Adelaide film festivals. Sydney will reveal its full programme in early May but has already announced titles including Berlinale winner Black Coal, Thin Ice (repped at FILMART by Fortissimo Films). Sydney has also announced The Lunchbox, for which trans-Tasman distributor Madman has Australasian rights.

Madman was having a busy week, releasing The Raid 2 back home while Christian Were was tracking down new fare in Hong Kong. Icon was also at FILMART, with Nick Summerville seeking product for Australasian release.

Selling rather than buying was Heritage Films, whose Brendan Styles was busy throughout the market.

The Queensland-based distributor focuses mainly on “inspirational and engaging media content”, which is another way of saying “faith-based”.

There are substantial markets in Asia for such material, the strongly Catholic Philippines being the most obvious. Focused mostly on TV and VOD plus what little remained of the DVD market, by day three of FILMART, Styles had closed sales into mainland China, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Korea also has strong and sizeable Christian communities although those are a harder nut to crack from a distribution POV, according to Styles.

The presence was Heritage’s first time at FILMART. Styles was realistic about his plans. He was hoping to break even on his first visit, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if that didn’t happen. Styles was combining the business with some pleasure, heading straight to Bali after the market to catch some waves before returning home to Queensland.

FILMART ran 24 – 27 March. The next edition will run 23 – 26 March 2015.

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