HAF Picks 28 In-Developement Projects, Run Online for the Third Year

Hong Kong - The Hong Kong - Asia Film Financing Forum has shortlisted 28 in- development projects for its 20th anniversary edition (HAF20), which will run online for the third consecutive year from 14 to 16 March in conjunction with the 26th Hong Kong FILMART.

The projects, selected from 222 submissions from 38 countries and regions, include eight from Hong Kong, 12 debut features, as well as projects from such renowned filmmakers and producers as HUANG Ji, Jun LI, MARIKO Tetsuya, Ida PANAHANDEH, LIM Lung Yin, TSANG Tsui-shan, Michael J. WERNER, Fruit CHAN, Nonzee NIMIBUTR, YANG Chao, DING Yuin-shan, and Jane ZHENG.

Unfortunately, we won't have the opportunity to celebrate our 20th anniversary by hosting our usual in-person event due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions," HKIFF Industry Director Jacob WONG said. "Nevertheless, based on experience gained from the last two years, we will strive to improve our online booking and meeting system to make it a breeze for all participants.

Some of the selected HAF20’s in-development projects (IDP) are as follows:

Hong Kong spotlight
HAF20 spotlights eight Hong Kong in-development projects, the most in recent years. They include I Might Write About Us, a personal LGBTQ+ drama by Jun LI (Drifting, winner of Best Adapted Screenplay at Golden Horse Awards 2021); High Noon, a drama about a cop who unearths the brutal past behind a recent robbery, directed by award-winning film editor WONG Hoi and produced by Michael J. WERNER; and Smashing Frank, a dark comedy about four millennials who rob the rich, by Trevor CHOI, director of a local popular YouTube channel 16:9, with Fruit CHAN attached as producer.

New talent showcase
In line with its continuing support for new talent, HAF20 presents 12 debut in-development projects, many by young filmmakers who have cut their teeth by making short films. Among them, DUONG Dieu Linh (A Trip To Heaven, winner at Locarno 2020), follows a middle-aged Vietnamese housewife who voodoos her husband back into love in Don’t Cry, Butterfly; In Summer Breeze, HO Yuk-fai (Eternal Sunshine, winner of Best Director at Hong Kong’s Fresh Wave 2020), creates a eulogy to Hong Kong’s young generation through the bittersweet lives of three graduates; Moxie PENG (one of the six directors of “Disney Launchpad: Shorts Incubator” programme) tracks the bleak reality of a family of four in social drama Tender Is The Night, which Jane ZHENG of The Farewell fame produces.

Both WU Lang’s Absence and ZHANG Yudis The Midsummer’s Voice are based on short films of the same name, which competed in Cannes and Palm Springs International ShortFest, respectively.

Award-winning filmmakers
Several award-winning directors are bringing their latest projects to HAF20. MARIKO Tetsuya (Destruction Babies, winner of Best Emerging Director at Locarno 2016) examines what a father will do to get his son back in Missing. Ida PANAHANDEH (Nahid, winner of a promising future prize at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard 2015) focuses on a gypsy woman temporarily released from prison who is suddenly revered as a saint in Passion.

Meanwhile, XU Zhenhao (Give Me A Ride, Firebird Award for Best Director of Young Cinema Competition at HKIFF43) describes an encounter between a man who accrues huge debts and a bar girl, both of whom are lost in the whirlpool of money and desire in The Millionth Lipstick, produced by YANG Chao. Jill LI (Lost Course, Best Documentary winner at Golden Horse Awards 2020) makes her narrative feature debut in The Returning Tide, which explores the world of two elderly men as they embark on a final journey to their hometown in Chaozhou.

Impact of COVID-19
The pandemic has found its way into everyday life, bringing filmmakers new experiences and inspirations. Some of HAF20's IDP projects are conceived and set in the unique pandemic world, including A Woman Builds by HUANG Ji (Egg and Stone, winner of Rotterdam Tiger Award 2012), which sees a woman return to her hometown to build a house when the pandemic keeps her husband and her daughter from travelling home; and Chifan by TSANG Tsui-shan (Big Blue Lake, winner of Best New Director at Hong Kong Film Awards 2012), which follows a Belgium-born Chinese woman who is rendered an outsider in the eyes of the locals in Antwerp when the pandemic strikes.

Some filmmakers turn to magical realism amid the pandemic, blurring the line between fantasy and reality in their stories. Projects which carry time travel or supernatural elements include Insectum, by Bhaskar HAZARIKA (The River of Fables, winner at Indian National Film Award 2016), which focuses on an Indian young man who descends into an insect-like state; Colleen KWOK’s The Stars The Sun The Moon sees two primary schoolmates travel 20 years into the future where one of them has died, and the first-ever Thai-Muslim horror The Cursed Land directed by Panu AREE and Kong RITHDEE and produced by Nonzee NIMIBUTR.

Meanwhile, Malice, by LIM Lung-Ying (Ohong Village, winner of Cipputi Award at Torino 2019), follows three men onboard a boat searching for the almost extinct giant swordfish, and HUANG Ningwei’s Not Found is a road movie in which a struggling writer meets three characters from his unfinished script.

Guest Accreditation for HAF20:
HAF20 guest registration is now open to investors, festival programmers and other industry professionals through https://Industry.hkiff.org.hk/guest-registration. Once accredited, all guests can schedule one-on-one meetings with filmmakers to discuss their projects.

Please refer to the Appendix for details on all shortlisted in-development projects. For more up-to- date information about HAF20, please visit our official website at https://Industry.hkiff.org.hk or our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hkiffindustry/.

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