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Big Korean Presence at HK FILMART, HAF and AFAs

Mar 22, 2013
  • Writer by Pierce Conran
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Awards and Sales Galore in Hong Kong
Korean cinema had a strong showing this week in Hong Kong as it clinched a slew of deals during the Hong Kong International Film & TV Market (FILMART) and a pair of awards from the Asian Film Awards (AFAs) and the Hong Kong – Asian Film Financing Forum (HAF). In addition, 11 Korean films are screening as part of the Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF). All of these events, and more, are staged by the Hong Kong Development and Trade Council (HKTDC).
The film festival got underway on Sunday evening with a glitzy gala premiere of the latest Ip Man film from Herman YAU and the very next morning business got underway as FILMART and HAF opened their doors. The market floor was teeming with buyers and exhibitors while booths representing Korean companies were out in force. The Korean Film Council (KOFIC) manned an umbrella stand in the middle of the exhibition center and was surrounded by representatives of Korea’s regional film commissions and the country’s major film markets, such as Busan’s Asian Film Market and the Network of Asian Fantastic Films (NAFF).

Korean sales companies proved very popular during the week as most of their booths were booked solid with meetings. Showbox was showing potential buyers special clips from its upcoming films, including the period action comedy The Huntresses (out in May) and the big-budget CG-heavy Mr. Go 3D, which was co-produced with China and will bow in July. Buyers also showed great interest in the sophomore works of the filmmakers behind Bedevilled (2010) and Save the Green Planet (2003): JANG Cheol-soo (Secretly, Greatly) and JANG Joon-hwan (Hwayi), respectively. Showbox is also behind YOON Jong-bin’s Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time follow-up Kundo: The Age of Rampant, one of this year’s HAF projects.
Meanwhile, CJ Entertainment was very busy, particularly as buyers were curious about BONG Joon-ho’s highly anticipated sci-fi extravaganza Snowpiercer. A poster for the film was out front and center but as of yet no footage is available for the project. Other films on display from the company were psychic crime thriller The Gifted Hands, the MMA action-thriller Fist of Legend (out in April) and a variety of genre pics scheduled for later this year such as the influenza film Flu and other thrillers such as 11 AM and The Spy: Undercover Operation.
Finecut also had a lot to offer this year as their recent box office behemoth (12.5 million admissions and counting) Miracle in Cell No. 7 sold to Comstock Group (Japan), Flash Forward Entertainment (Taiwan), Intercontinental Film Distributors (Hong Kong) and JoyNContents (Thailand). In addition, the melodrama Love 911 scored deals with Twin (Japan), Eagle International (Taiwan) and Lotte Cinema (Vietnam). At FILMART, however, the film on most people’s lips was New World, the hit gangster thriller from PARK Hoon-jung. It  already sold to Well Go USA during the European Film Market and a slew of buyers and festival programmers showed interest in the critically acclaimed film during the week. In addition, Finecut was also handling Nobody’s Daughter Haewon, the new HONG Sangsoo film.

Lotte Entertainment
displayed its typically heavy slate, with films such as the new KIM Yun-seok vehicle South Bound and the erotic thriller An Ethics Lesson, though they lacked the major genre projects of their competitors. Among the smaller distributors, Daisy & Cinergy were pushing their films, which include How to Use Guys With Secret Tips, a romcom that received a positive notice from The Hollywood Reporter during the week. Mirovision had a few praised indie dramas on offer, including the Japan-Korea co-production Our Homeland. Other companies with booths at FILMART included 9ers Entertainment, Indiestory Inc., M-Line Distribution and Cinema Dal.
Monday night played host to the star-studded 7th Asian Film Awards. A number of Korean films were nominated for the awards show, including Pieta (3 nominations), Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time (6 nominations) and The Thieves (3 nominations), while Doomsday Book, A Werewolf Boy and R2B: Return to Base each received a nomination a piece. In the end, the only Korean film to prevail was KIM Ki-duk’s Pieta as its lead actress CHO Min-soo was honored with the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Actress.
The Hong Kong – Asian Film Financing Forum (HAF) featured two Korean projects this year. The previously mentioned YOON Jong-bin period actioneer Kundo: The Age of the Rampant, starring HA Jung-woo and GANG Dong-won, was seeking pre-sales ahead of its production. Meanwhile, JANG Kun-jae’s Sleepless Night follow-up All About You (working title), produced by Naomi KAWASE and shot in Japan, was hoping to secure funding during the week. JANG’s project wound up winning the Wouter Barendrecht Award, a cash prize worth $6,410 (HK$50,000).
FILMART closed its doors late yesterday afternoon and once the dust settles as the booths are packed up and everyone goes home, we will no doubt learn of the many more deals that were clinched during the busy market week.
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