May 1, 2010
By Nazir Keshvani
Collaborations with China and new technologies took center stage at this year’s Filmart in Hong Kong, where attendance was strong and both buyers and filmmakers were optimistic. According to the organizer, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, a record 540 exhibitors from 29 countries attended the four-day 14th Hong Kong International Film and TV Market, and all eyes are directed across the border to mainland China, where the box office is expected to top US$1.5 billion this year. There was a bigger presence all around from countries like Taiwan, Philippines Malaysia, Thailand and Korea. Europe was also well represented at Filmart, with big delegations from Germany and France, while Austria, Croatia and Latvia were also at the fair. Chinese director Zhang Yimou, who received an Outstanding Contribution to Asian Cinema gong at the Asian Film Awards, said Asian movies were gaining traction in the world and making more of an impact. “But Asian filmmakers still have a lot of work to do before they can truly turn their movies into a medium through which ordinary people in other parts of the world can acquire a good understanding of Asian culture,” he said. The film industry is important to Hong Kong, and stopping piracy was an essential way of keeping it thriving, according to a report commissioned by the International Federation Against Copyright Theft – Greater China (IFACT-GC), which represents the Motion Picture Association in the territory. The Hong Kong film and television industries contributed HK$33 billion ($4.25 billion) to the economy and created more than 32,000 jobs in 2008. The report was commissioned by the International Federation Against Copyright Theft – Greater China (IFACT-GC). “The report provides useful quantitative figures for us to evaluate the contribution of the film and television industry and an opportunity to look beyond to see what should be done to facilitate the further development of the industry,” said Sam Ho, executive director and general manager, IFACT-GC. As part of FILMART 2010, this year’s event handed out cash prizes to several projects which were vying for the 8th Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) Award. The Enchanter by Kwok Tsz-kin, a project originating in Hong Kong, and Twins (The Philippines) by Sherad Anthony Sanchez, originating outside of Hong Kong, were awarded seed money of HK$150,000 (US$19,319.41) each. The award shorlisted 25 selected film projects from 17 territories, including 12 co-production projects – the highest in the history of the HAF, indicating a growing trend of inter-Asia film collaboration. The Paris Project Award was presented to I Love You So Much (Taiwan) by Leon Dai. The film won an award of £5,000, which included one round-trip ticket and hotel accommodation to participate in Paris Project 2010 at the Paris Cinema International Film Festival. HAF also presented the Technicolor Asia Award to Cosplay (China/ France) by Sheng Zhimin. The film was awarded an in-kind prize worth US$25,000 by Technicolor Asia, Bangkok. The first-ever recipient of the Wouter Barendrecht award was Mama Eva (Hong Kong/ China/ Switzerland) by Kit Hung. This new award is dedicated to the memory of the late Wouter Barendrecht, Hong Kong-based international film producer and co-founder of the HAF. The winner was awarded a cash prize of HK$50,000 by the Wouter Barendrecht Film Foundation and the Film Development Fund. The awards were announced in a ceremony held at the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre. Films from China and South Korea ruled at the 4th Asian Film Awards 2010, taking top honours including best picture, best actor and best actress at the ceremony also held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Mother, the South Korean mystery thriller directed by Bong Joonho, was named Best Film at the Asian Film Awards. The film depicts a woman’s quest to prove the innocence of her mentally incapacitated son who is faced with a murder charge. The film also took the Best Actress award for Kim Hye Ja who plays the eponymous mother who takes it upon herself to investigate the murder of a teenage girl to prove her son is innocent of murder. Kim’s granddaughter accepted the award on the actress’ behalf. Kim also won best actress at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards last year. Director Bong and Park Eun-kyo won the best screenwriter award with the script for Mother, which was also selected as South Korea’s entry for best foreign-language film at this year’s Oscars. Chinese director Lu Chuan won the best director award for his feature film City of Life and Death (China), which deals with the Nanjing Massacre in 1937, where hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians were killed by Japanese soldiers. The film also won best cinematographer. Two actors from the blockbuster, Bodyguards and Assassins, which tells the story of how a group of people protect ‘Father of the nation’ Sun Yat-sen during his brief stay in Hong Kong, took best actor and best supporting actor. Wang Xueqi won the best actor award with his depiction of a businessman who provides financial support for the revolutionary movement led by Sun in what would become the 1911 Revolution that overthrew the Qing dynasty. Former pop star Nicholas Tse won the best supporting actor category with his role as a rickshaw boy. Hong Kong actress Wai Ying-hung received the best supporting actress award for her portrayal of an overprotective and alcoholic single mother in At the End of Daybreak, directed by Malaysian filmmaker Ho Yuhang. The film’s co-star, Ng Menghui won the best newcomer award. Producer Terence Chang accepted the award for 2009’s top grossing film director on behalf of John Woo, for Woo’s two-part war epic, Red Cliff. Indian screen legend Amitabh Bachchan, 67, was honoured with a lifetime achievement award. The Asian Film Awards is one of nine major events in Entertainment Expo 2010 in Hong Kong organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. The other events in the expo, held from 21 March to 6 April this year are the Hong Kong Independent Short Film and Video Awards; the IFPI Hong Kong Top Sales Music Award; the Hong Kong International Film and TV Market; the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum; the Hong Kong Music Fair; the Hong Kong Film Awards Presentation Ceremony; the Digital Entertainment Leadership Forum and the Hong Kong International Film Festival.