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Hong Kong’s HAF Project Market Picks 28 Titles for First In-Person Edition Since 2019

Hong Kong’s Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) on Thursday unveiled a rich, 28-title selection for its forthcoming 21st edition, featuring promising projects in development from Singaporean Camera d’Or winner Anthony Chen, maverick Hong Kong director Fruit Chan, rising Thai talent Jakrawal Nilthamrong and veteran festival ringmaster Marco Mueller, among many others. HAF is returning in 2023 for its first in-person forum since 2019, following three consecutive online editions during the coronavirus pandemic.

As per usual, the event will be held March 13–15 in tandem with the 27th Hong Kong Film & TV Market (aka Filmart), which runs March 13-16.

Of the 28 titles picked from 244 submissions spanning 38 countries and territories, HAF says half are from first-time filmmakers and eight are Chinese-language projects developed at recent editions of the HAF Film Lab mentorship program. The selection spans a broad range of genres, including arthouse drama, horror, fantasy, romance, animation and family films.

Chen, director of the Singapore Oscar submission Ilo Ilo and the forthcoming English-language feature Drift, is attached to two of HAF’s 2023 Chinese-language contenders as a producer: coming-of-age drama A Better Tomorrow (China), from Tang Peiyan; and the animated gay drama Skin Coat (Singapore) from Teoh Yi Peng.

Meanwhile, Chan is attached to produce fellow Hong Konger Frankie Lee’s Kapok, a drama about an overworked woman who returns to her hometown for peace and escape. Jakrawal, whose most recent feature, Vanishing Point (2021), premiered in Venice’s Horizons section, returns with Rhizome, a poetic drama that follows a Lao woman who returns to her homeland to become a “deminer” after her brother was killed by a bomb left over from the Vietnam War. Meanwhile, Mueller, former festival director of the Venice, Rome, Locarno, Macau and Pingyao film festivals, is attached as a producer to Chinese director Li Dongmei miscarriage drama In the Fruit.

Japan and India are represented at the 2023 HAF with just one project apiece. Filmmaker Mio Taniguchi’s entry, Nagahama (working title), tells the story of a young boy who enters a male-only children’s kabuki troupe and befriends a girl with gender dysphoria, gaining insights about tradition and identity. Indian director Praveen Morchhale will arrive in Hong Kong to tout White Snow, a drama about an elderly woman who sets out on a journey across mountains to show her son’s banned film in remote villages.

“We look forward to welcoming back filmmakers, industry guests, and friends from the trade media after three virtual editions of the HAF,” said the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society’s industry office director Jacob Wong. “And HAF21 will again showcase itself as an invaluable platform for new talents and upcoming projects from Asia.”

See the full HAF selection below:

Ah Ji (Hong Kong)
Dir. Leo ZHU
Pro. HO Ting-wai
Prodco. Booooom

A Better Tomorrow (China)
Dir. TANG Peiyan
Pros. Anthony CHEN, XIE Meng
Prodco. Canopy Pictures Shanghai

Bhunte (Nepal)
Dir. Bikas NEUPANE
Pro. Govinda Prasad KHANAL
Prodco. Hamrobox Entertainment

A Collapse Of Time (China)
Dir. FENG Yi
Pro. LIU Jike
Prodco. Slumber Mountain Pictures

Dark Eyes (China)
Dir. Phakpa
Pros. TIAN Zhuangzhuang, HE Bin
Prodco. General Dream Studio

A Divorce (U.K.-Hong Kong-Canada)
Dir. Jevons AU
Pros. Catherine WONG, Isis TSO
Prodcos. Movie Guys Canada Inc., 109G Studio

Family Of Crooks (Thailand)
Dir. LAI Kuo-An
Pro. Juno TENG
Prodco. Dancing Whale Production Co.

Fly Me To The Mars (China)
Dir. ZHAO Dadi
Pro. Jane XIE
Prodco. Dirty Monkey Studio

The Fruit (China)
Dir. LI Dongmei
Pros. Marco Mueller, QI Ai
Prodco. Leopard Film Culture and Arts Co.

Hugo In The Pigpen (Thailand-U.S.)
Directors: SHEN Sheng-Ting, SHIH Jing-Ting
Pros. LAI Zhen-Lin, LIANG Mei-Jou, SHEN Sheng-Ting
Prodco. Dot Connect Studio

Janava (Iran)
Dir. Arsalan AMIRI
Pros. Ruth Yoshie LINTON, Ida PANAHANDEH
Prodcos. Evar Film Studio, Kingyo Films

Kapok (Hong Kong)
Dir. Frankie LEE
Pro. Fruit CHAN
Prodco. Frankie Lap Production

The Last Haven (China)
Dir. ZHANG Jun
Pros. ZHANG Lu, XU Jiahan
Prodco. Zhang Jun Studio

The Marriage Drive (Hong Kong)
Dir. Lawrence KAN
Pro. Cora YIM
Prodco. Plan C Studio

The Mermaid’s Tale (Tai-HK)
Dir. Norris WONG
Pros. Gene YAO, Albert YAO
Prodco. MaplessLab Co.

Nagahama (working title) (Japan)
Pro. KATAHARA Tomoko
Prodco. Kolmio Film

Non-Fiction Stories (China)
Dir. ZHAO Jin
Pros. NAI An, TONG Wenqun, Dia WANG Yunzhi
Production Companies: Midnight Blur Films, Sputnik Entertainment, TMZ Media

The Only Way Out (Hong Kong)
Dir. YEUNG Leung-chuen
Pro. Jun LI
Prodco. Goodnight Production

The Poison Cat (China)
Dir. GUAN Tian
Pros. YANG Chao, Vivian BAO, DING Ningyuan
Prodco. Beijing Guanyu Film

Racing Storm (Thailand)
Dir. LIN Yu-Hsien
Pro. Roger HUANG, Lorraine HO
Prodcos. Jumpboys Film Ltd., Whisper Entertainment

Rhizome (Thailand-Laos-France)
Pros. Chatchai CHAIYON, Yohann CORNU
Prodco. Mit Out Sound Films 

Skin Coat (Singapore)
Dir. TAN Wei Keong
Pros. Anthony CHEN, TEOH Yi Peng
Prodco. Giraffe Pictures

Stair-away (Hong Kong)
Dir. FAN Ka-chun
Pro. Teddy Robin
Prodco. Loudprovision

Tender is the Night (China)
Dir. YUAN Qing
Pros. JI Wei, Dia WANG Yunzhi, ZHAO Jin
Prodco. Sputnik Entertainment

Till Forgetfulness Do Us Part (China-Thailand-France)
Dir. ZHANG Yuxuan
Pros. ZHANG Fan, QIU Sheng, Clément PELLETIER
Prodco. Beijing Bifun Culture Media

The Walking Bird (China)
Dir. ZHANG Hanyi
Pro. MA Xiaotian
Prodco. Rare Pictures 

White Snow (India)
Dir. Praveen MORCHHALE
Pros. Praveen MORCHHALE, Suneel SAJNANI
Prodco. Barefoot Pictures 

The Witness (Iran)
Dir. Nader SAEIVAR
Pro. Said Nur AKKUS
Prodco. ArtHood Films

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