Film projects from Anthony Chen, Fruit Chan, Tian Zhuangzhuang, Marco Muller and Zhang Lu round out the lineup at the upcoming Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum Project Market.
The 21st edition of the bazaar will be held as an in-person event for the first time after a hiatus for the past three years forcing HAF to go digital-only. It will conduct the 27th Hong Kong Film and TV Market (Filmart), March 13-16 as well as March 13-15.
From 244 submissions, HAF organizers selected 28 developmental projects for this year’s market. Half of these are likely by first-time directors. In the latest edition of the HAF Film Lab coaching program, eight out of 28 Chinese-language projects were created by young filmmakers.
Organizers will announce a further list of work-in-progress projects later this month, after the Chinese New Year holiday.
Chen, the director of “Yello Yello” and “Wet Season,” is attached as a producer on the two HAF entries. Along with Xie Meng, he is producing “A Better Tomorrow,” a mainland Chinese coming-of-age drama to be directed by Tang Peian. Along with Teoh Yi Peng, he is also developing “Skin Coat”, the only animated project in the HAF21 line-up. Created by Tan Wei Kyung, it depicts a man donning a woman’s leather coat to enter his male lover’s village and meet his parents.
Müller, former festival director of Venice, Locarno and Pingyao, is attached as producer for “In the Fruit,” directed by Li Dongmei and explores a woman’s joy and sorrow through pregnancy and miscarriage.
Zhang Lu (“Yanagawa”), a renowned director himself, is attached as a producer for “In the Last Haven,” directed by Zhang Jun. The story follows a woman returning to live with her parents after her divorce.
Frankie Lee’s “Kapok,” a drama about a woman burdened by work and family responsibilities, who returns to her hometown to seek solace, is produced by iconoclast Fruit Chan (“Hollywood, Hong Kong,” “The Midnight After”).
The only Indian project in the line-up is director Praveen Morchal’s “White Snow”, which Morchal will produce with Sunil Sajnai through Barefoot Pictures. South Asia is represented by Nepalese director Vikas Newpan’s “Bhunte”, who dreams of playing football. It is produced by Govind Prasad Khanal through Hamrobox Entertainment.
Organizers noted that love, scams and fraud – a social problem that has grown rapidly in many Asian countries in the Covid era – is a recurring theme in many of the selected projects.
These include: “A Divorce” by Hong Kong’s Jevons Au (“Trivisa”), which looks at how a fake divorce becomes real when love and trust are lost; and “Family of Crooks” by Lai Kuo-an (“A Fish Out of Water”), about a family in a street opera troupe driven mad by an insurance scam.
“The Marriage Drive,” directed by Lawrence Kahn and produced by Cora Im, tells the story of a couple’s marriage spanning a decade. In Zhang Yuxuan’s China-Thailand-France co-production, “Till Forgetfulness Do Us Part,” two estranged lovers travel to Thailand to start over. Tian Zhuangzhuang (“The Horse Thief”) joins He Bin (“The Crossing”) in Fakpa’s “Dark Eyes,” a first love story between a Buddhist monk and a young blind girl who transcends faith.