17th HAF (Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum): Indian film bags an award at the global stage

The 17th Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) successfully concluded with an awards ceremony at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. India’s The Shepherdess and the Seven Songs bagged an award from White Light Post-Production Award; an honour designed to promote cinematic innovation and promising Asian directors. A total of 18 awards – worth over $2.1 million (US$270,000) in cash and value-in-kind – were presented to filmmakers for their promising and remarkable projects. Widely recognised as one of the most important film-financing platforms in the region, HAF, now in its 17th edition, showcased 42 shortlisted projects, including 19 Work-in-Progress (WIP) projects. Hundreds of film financiers, producers, distributors and buyers attended the three-day event from around the world and, through business meetings and networking events organised by HAF, they were connected to these talented filmmakers. This year also marks the third edition of the WIP program in which, for the first time, a separate section for documentary projects is organised. The program offers a great opportunity for fiction and documentary filmmakers to secure post-production funds, sales agents and film festival support. Hong Kong International Film Festival Society Curator and HAF Director Jacob Wong called the 17th Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum a resounding success. “Thanks to the generous support from our partners, sponsors and fellow filmmakers, both the number and total value of this year’s awards have set new records, affording more resources and opportunities for filmmakers to realise their dreams,” Wong said. “As a mission, HAF will continue to support the robust development of emerging talents in Hong Kong and Asia by seeking out promising filmmakers with interesting film projects.” The highlight of the winning projects are: – 1. HAF Awards (Presented by Create HK, Hong Kong Film Development Fund and HAF) Mr Wellington Fung, Assistant Head of Create Hong Kong presented two HAF Awards to Wong Tai Sin Assassination (Hong Kong) and Our Apprenticeship (Japan) for Hong Kong Project and non-Hong Kong Project categories respectively. Each project received a cash prize of HK$150,000 (approx. US$19,200) in recognition of their originality and creativity. 2. WIP Documentary Award (Presented by Create HK, Hong Kong Film Development Fund and HAF) This year, an award was added for WIP documentary projects. The new WIP Documentary Award is to encourage and promote the development of documentaries. The winning project, Odoriko (Japan), received a cash award of HK$78,000 (approx. US$10,000). 3. HAF Goes to Cannes (Presented by HAF and Marché du Film) In collaboration with Marché du Film, Festival de Cannes, HAF Goes to Cannes Program presents opportunities for filmmakers to look for sales agents, distributors and film-festival. Mr. Yu Li-ping will provide a travelling subsidy of RMB 75,000 (approx. HK$87,000) in total to the selected projects including Odoriko (Japan), To Live To Sing (China), SUK SUK (Hong Kong), Invitation (India) and Marygoround (Poland). 4. Heaven Pictures Young Director Award (Presented by Heaven Pictures (HK) Culture & Media Co., Ltd.) Another new award, Heaven Pictures Young Director Award, was given to Solitary Kills (Hong Kong). The Award aims to encourage young Hong Kong directors to create local-themed projects with unique personal style. The winner received a cash prize of HK$150,000 (approx. US$19,200). 5. mm2 Award (Presented by mm2 Asia Ltd.) Wong Tai Sin Assassination (Hong Kong) was honoured with the mm2 Award which aims to encourage and support Chinese-language film projects that exhibit good commercial and artistic quality. The winner received a cash award of HK$100,000 (approx. US$12,800). 6. Wanda Elite+ Plan Award (Presented by Wanda Media Co., Ltd) Wanda Elite+ Plan Award has its root in the Elite + Filmmaker Plan launched by Wanda Media. It is dedicated to discovering and cultivating new film talents for the China market with the advantages of Wanda Media’s integrated industry chain. The winning project, A Story of HERS (China) was selected by Wanda Pictures executives and received a cash award of HK$100,000 (approx. US$12,800). 7. Artention-Vanke Film Award (Presented by Artention-Vanke Cultural Industries Corp.) Sponsored by Artention-Vanke Cultural Industries Corp., the Award aims to support young filmmakers and the development of their projects that exhibit both commercial and artistic qualities. A cash award of HK$100,000 (approx. US$12,800) was awarded to Who is Sleeping on My Pillow? (China). The winning project is also allowed free access to designated space in the Artention-Vanke Creative Arts Incubator, fully linked with high-quality resources from Artention and Vanke. 8. KOFIC Award (Presented by Korean Film Council) Korean Film Council (KOFIC) is renowned for its commitment towards the growth of the Asian film industry. Zalava (Iran) was honoured with the KOFIC Award which aims to recognise the outstanding potentials of an Asian film project for its development. The winner received a cash award of HK$100,000 (approx. US$12,800). 9. Wouter Barendrecht Award (Presented by Wouter Barendrecht Film Foundation, Create HK and Hong Kong Film Development Fund) Dedicated to the memory of the late Wouter Barendrecht, the renowned film producer and one of the founders of HAF, the Wouter Barendrecht Award went to Belonging (Bangladesh). This cash award of HK$50,000 (approx.US$6,400) recognises a project by a director under 35 who has not made more than three feature films. 4 10. Wutianming Post-Production Award (Presented by China Film Foundation-Wutianming Fund for Young Talents) The Wutianming Post-Production Award is to encourage and support young film talents. An in-kind award of RMB 300,000 (approx. HK$365,000) was given to The River in Me (China), which will be offered post-production services by Leading Digital Post Shanghai. 11. White Light Post-Production Award (Presented by White Light Studio) White Light Post-Production Award is designed to promote cinematic innovation and promising Asian directors. The two in-kind awards went to Circa (The Philippines) from HAF and The Shepherdess and the Seven Songs (India) from WIP. Each project will be offered post-production services valued at US$15,000 (approx. HK$117,300) at their studio in Bangkok, Thailand. 12. G2D Post Production Award (Presented by G2D) G2D will sponsor two in-kind awards for Belonging (Bangladesh) from HAF and On High Ice (Israel and South Korea) from WIP. Each winning project will be sponsored a sound package valued at US$15,000 (approx. HK$117,300) towards a full sound package of US$25,000, including foley, sound design, dialogue editing, atmosphere and a final mix. 13. Cinerent Award (Presented by Cinerent Beijing Ltd.) The Cinerent Award, an in-kind award of RMB 150,000 (approx. HK$175,000), was given to The Priest in the Village (China). The Award aims to support and encourage high-quality film projects. The winning project is required to shoot in Mainland China in order to entitle the benefits. 14. Udine Focus Asia Award (Presented by Udine Far East Film Festival) The objective of the Award is to encourage and facilitate coproduction between Asia and Europe. The Udine Focus Asia Award was given to The Grandstand (The Philippines) with sponsored hospitality of EUR 7,000 (approx. HK$62,000) to participate in Focus Asia 2019 in Udine, Italy. 15. Network of Asian Fantastic Films Award (Presented by Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival) The Network of Asian Fantastic Films Award was given to Wong Tai Sin Assassination (Hong Kong) with sponsored hospitality of US$2,700 (approx. HK$21,000) to participate in the Network of Asian Fantastic Films 2019 in Bucheon. We hope to see more such award ceremonies which felicitate the talents and cinema all across the globe instilling a spirit of filmmaking.