8 February 2023 (Hong Kong) – The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society today completes the 21st Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF21) line-up by shortlisting 15 work-in-progress projects, adding to the 28 in-development projects announced previously.
HAF21 will take place from 13 to 15 March at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in conjunction with the 27th Hong Kong Film & TV Market (FILMART). It will be the first physical, in-person edition of HAF since 2019.
The 15 shortlisted work-in-progress projects include three from Hong Kong and eight feature debuts. Emerging and established actors from across Asia, including Fish Liew, Austin Lin, Ma Chih-Hsiang, Matsuda Ryuhei, Wang Xuebing, Wu Kang-Ren, and Zu Feng, top-line many projects. Renowned filmmakers such as Stanley Kwan, Mai Meksawan, and Ram Krishna Pokharel also featured prominently as producers.
HAF introduced the work-in-progress section in 2017 for later-stage projects seeking completion funding, post-production partners, distributors and sales agents, and film festival support, complementing its main programme, which was designed specifically for projects in the pre-production or development stages.
Among the feature debut projects are:
▪ In A Journey in Spring, filmmakers Peng Tzu-Hui and Wang Ping-Wen follow an old man who puts his wife in a freezer when she passes away suddenly, only to start a journey to face his life regrets. ▪ Produced by Zhou Yaowu and directed by Ma Xiang, The Actor stars Wang Xuebing (The Pluto Moment) as an actor who seeks help from a friend with extraordinary power to revive his career. ▪ Starring Zu Feng (Summer Of Changsha) and Guo Keyu (Red Cherry), Lin Jianjie’s family drama Brief History of a Family revolves around a seemingly harmonious middle-class family disrupted by a mysterious friend of the son.
▪ Produced by Stanley Kwan for director Sasha Chuk, Fly Me to the Moon tracks the struggles of two sisters who moved from Hunan to Hong Kong in the 90s, with a cast led by Wu Kang-Ren, Angela Yuen, and Chu Pak-him.
▪ Hani by Hou Dasheng is a Yunnan-set drama about a 14-year-old boy who is about to marry a 12-year old child bride deep in the mountain.
▪ Qu Youjia’s She Sat There Like All Ordinary Ones is a coming-of-age drama about two high school students who befriend and reject each other. Xie Meng (Memoria) produced.
▪ Starring Austin Lin (IWeirDo) and Esther Liu (Light The Night series), Lien Chien-Hung’s Taiwan and France co-production Salli follow a 38-year-old chicken farmer who starts an online romance with a Frenchman until he disappears. Lee Lieh (Detention) is an executive producer.
▪ Patiparn Boontarig’s Solids by the Seashore follows a young Muslim woman who falls for a female activist-turned-visual artist in south Thailand, produced by Mai Meksawan (Manta Ray).
Leading ladies and leading men
Two projects featuring female-driven stories:
▪ In Carefree Days, director Liang Ming reunites with his actress Lv Xingchen from Wisdom Tooth (best director winner at HKIFF’s Young Cinema Competition), who plays a young woman whose life collapses when she gets uraemia. Still, she decides to go on a trip with her best friends.
▪ Do Fish Sleep with Their Eyes Open? follows a young Chinese woman who starts a new life in Brazil, living with her aunt in a fancy building with hidden stories. Nele Wohlatz (whose The Future Perfect won the best first feature at Locarno) directs this co-production of Brazil, Taiwan, Argentina and Germany.
Projects with top leading men include:
▪ Su Hung-En’s suspense thriller Hunter Brothers is about a man who, upon release from jail, attempts to settle unfinished family business with his brother. It stars Ma Chih-Hsiang, Lin Ching-Tai, and Hsu Yi-Fan (all from Seediq Bale).
▪ Directed by Peng Tao (Leaving For Love), Listening to the Wind is about a terminally ill man who returns to his hometown with his wife after a long absence, hoping to pay a last visit to his estranged father. It stars Yao Anlian (who won best actor at the Montreal World Film Festival for Factory Boss).
▪ Kwan Man-hin’s The Remnant is about a former gangster boss who comes out of retirement when residents in his poor neighbourhood are threatened with eviction, with Philip Keung, Fish Liew and Ling Man-lung in the cast.
The two non-Chinese language projects are
▪ Guras by Saurav Rai (whose Nimtoh’ Invitation’ won the grand jury prize at Jio MAMI Film Festival) follows the mystical journey of a nine-year-old Nepali girl in search of her lost dog. Ram Krishna Pokharel, a winner of a Sports Emmy Award, was the producer.
▪ Who Were We? by Tomina Tetsuya (whose Blue Wind Blows premiered at Berlinale’s Generation Kplus) explores the inexplicable love between a man and a woman with no memory of the past. The film stars Matsuda Ryuhei (Before We Vanish) and Komatsu Nana (Moonlight Shadow).
Details of the Open Pitch Session
All shortlisted work-in-progress projects will feature in an open pitch session on 13 March 2023 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Representatives of each project will introduce their projects and showcase footage of their films. All HAF and FILMART badge holders are welcome to participate. Details of the session are as follows:
Date: 13 March 2023 (Monday)
Time: 14:00 – 18:00 (Hong Kong Time)
Venue: Starlight Theatre, Hall 1
Remarks: HAF/FILMART badge holders may attend
Please refer to the Appendix for details on all shortlisted projects.
HAF Projects Latest Milestones
▪ Liu Jian’s Art College 1994 (HAF16, 2018) has been selected in the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival’s main competition
▪ Absence (HAF20, 2022) by Wu Lang has been selected in the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival’s Encounter section
▪ Burak Çevik’s Forms of Forgetting (HAF19, 2021) will have its World Premiere at the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival’s Forum section
▪ Yang Heng’s Silent Ghosts (HAF20, 2022) premiered at International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2023 ▪ Lau Kok Rui’s The Sunny Side of the Street (HAF20, 2022) won Best Leading Actor, Best New Director, and Best Original Screenplay at the Golden Horse Film Awards in Taiwan
Guest and Media Accreditation for HAF21
Investors, financiers and other film-industry guests can now register for HAF at https://Industry.hkiff.org.hk/guest-registration and schedule individual meetings with filmmakers to discuss their projects. Guests will be given access to HAF in addition to joining official networking events, screenings, seminars or other activities.
Media registration details can be found here:
For more up-to-date information about HAF21, please visit our official website at https://Industry.hkiff.org.hk or our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hkiffindustry/.