Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), the 23rd edition of the Hong Kong International Film and TV Market (FILMART) opened today and continues through 21 March at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC), raising the curtain for the largest marketplace of its kind in Asia. FILMART is one of eight events taking place as part of Entertainment Expo Hong Kong, coordinated by the HKTDC, which opens today and runs until 14 April, covering a global mix of film, TV, music and digital entertainment. A global entertainment trading platform to create opportunities This year, FILMART, as a premier cross-media, cross-industry trading platform, features some 880 exhibitors from 35 countries and regions. Exhibitors from around the world continue to set up pavilions at FILMART to promote their entertainment productions to global buyers, including Mainland China, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. A number of prominent Hong Kong film companies are returning to FILMART to show their keen support for this prime trading platform. They include Emperor Motion Pictures, Media Asia Distribution Limited, Mega-Vision Project Workshop Limited, Mei Ah Entertainment Group Limited, One Cool Film Production Limited, PCCW Media Limited, Mandarin Motion Pictures Limited, TVBI Company Limited, Sil-Metropole Organisation Ltd, Sun Entertainment Culture Limited and Universe Films Distribution Company Limited. Mainland China pavilions highlight industry potential This year’s FILMART sees encouraging participation from various provinces and cities in Mainland China, with Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Hunan and Hangzhou all setting up regional pavilions. Exhibitors from Jiangsu, Hengdian and Xiamen are forming regional pavilions for the first time, encouraging global buyers to leverage the potential of the mainland’s film market. Thematic seminars featuring leading figures from the mainland’s TV and film industries, including studios, distributors, over-the-top (OTT) platforms and big data research companies, will discuss the prospects, challenges and expected changes in the mainland market. Nearly 300 global documentary exhibitors The Doc World zone will be a key focus at this year’s FILMART, with visitors able to explore the documentary works of nearly 300 exhibitors from 26 countries and regions, including the US, the UK, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The Global Filming Support zone features 21 exhibitors from eight countries and regions, including Japan, Korea, Finland, Spain and Taiwan, to highlight the business opportunities presented through various filming incentives. With documentaries under the spotlight, a seminar titled “Documentaries: Why does your story matter?” was held earlier today featuring three experts − Esther van Messel, CEO of First Hand Films; Lex Zhu, Producer of A Bite of China; and David Weiland, EVP Asia at BBC Studios − to examine what viewers are looking for in documentaries. Representatives analyse film and TV development in the Greater Bay Area TV World and the Hong Kong Animation and Digital Entertainment Pavilion are once again among the highlights at FILMART. The latter pavilion, sponsored by Create Hong Kong (CreateHK), the agency set up by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government to drive the development of the creative economy in Hong Kong, showcases 40 Hong Kong companies from various digital entertainment sectors, including animation, digital effects and interactive solutions. In the Digital Entertainment Summit 2019, industry experts examine the latest applications of virtual reality and augmented reality technologies, along with the various opportunities arising from the introduction of new technologies in the digital entertainment field. Another focus at FILMART this year is the development of the film and TV industry in the Greater Bay Area. The “TV World 2019 – Opening Ceremony cum International Forum”, “Cantonese Movies − Opportunities in the Greater Bay Area” forum and “Greater Bay Area – New Business Opportunities for Cantopop” forum will see representatives from these various industries explore TV, film and music production and cooperation opportunities across the Greater Bay Area. 14 thematic seminars feature heavyweight speakers In addition to the exhibition, FILMART also features an impressive line-up of leading industry representatives from sectors including film, TV, digital entertainment and animation to share their insights. Speakers include Jonathan Spink, CEO of HBO Asia; Sean Park, Marketing Director of YouTube International Markets; Jim Packer, President of Worldwide TV and Digital Distribution, Lionsgate (distributors of movie series The Hunger Games); Yu Gong, Founder and CEO of iQIYI, Inc and President of Worldwide TV and Digital Distribution; Joe Aguilar, Emmy Award-winning producer; and Belle Avery, Producer of The Meg. They will discuss the global appetite for Asia’s OTT platforms, how new Chinese-foreign alliances are helping to shape the world’s animation industry and the impact of blockchain on the future of entertainment. To motivate young people to gain a deeper understanding of the film and TV industry, FILMART will hold the “Sharing with Hong Kong Filmmakers” session again this year, inviting three local directors − Pang Ho-cheung, Director of Love in a Puff, Derek Tsang, Director of Soul Mate and Sunny Chan, Director of Men on the Dragon − to discuss their personal experiences. Networking events, seminars and more than 300 screenings In light of the rapid emergence of new media in recent years, a number of OTT platforms are participating in FILMART for the first time, including Huawei from Mainland China, HBO Asia from Singapore, Indonesia’s OONA, Viki from the US and Cignal TV from the Philippines. More than 60 networking events, thematic seminars and press conferences, along with 300-plus movie screenings, will be held during FILMART to help open the door to new business opportunities. FILMART is acknowledged as one of the best platforms for the international and local film industry to test market reaction, and this year’s screenings will showcase various documentaries and micro-movies, including around 100 international premieres. FILMART will feature the Online Catch-Up Screening facility for the first time in 2019, enabling buyers and visitors to view exhibitors’ works at any time. 15th Entertainment Expo opens today The opening ceremony of the 15th Entertainment Expo took place this afternoon with a high-profile lineup of officiating guests including Paul Chan, Financial Secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; Margaret Fong, HKTDC Executive Director; Liu Meiru, Deputy Director-General, TV Drama Department, State Administration of Radio and Television; Peter Lam, Chairman of the HKTDC Entertainment Industry Advisory Committee; and Leon Lai, Hong Kong Entertainment Ambassador. Also in attendance were organisers and supporting organisations from the eight events under the Entertainment Expo umbrella, including the three founding events and five core events. The three founding events of the expo are FILMART, the Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) and the Hong Kong Film Awards Presentation Ceremony (HKFA). The five core events are the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF), the Hong Kong Asian-Pop Music Festival (HKAMF), ifva (Incubator for Film & Visual Media in Asia Festival), the Digital Entertainment Summit, and the TV World International Forum.