HK film forum like a blind-dating event

Garcia with Ang Babae Sa Septik Tank lead, Eugene Domingo (photo from PDI)

The 10th Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) from March 19 to 21 is like a big “blind-dating” event where filmmakers meet with investors, producers, sales agents and distributors—hopefully to secure deals for their dream projects.

Roger Garcia, executive director of the HK International Film Festival Society (HKIFFS), said the pitching forum “matches” filmmakers with possible partners and allows them to hang out and hook up with colleagues all over the world. The forum, organized by the HKIFFS, is considered “one ofAsia’s most important film-financing platforms.”

“Getting in is tough,” Garcia noted. “Very competitive. This year we received 250 submissions, narrowed down to 32.” He said HAF prioritized projects that showed both artistic merits and financial viability: “A project should look promising on paper, but shouldn’t be unrealistic and expensive to produce.”

Entries from Malaysiaand Taiwanto the Czech Republicand Slovakiamade it, plus Filipino filmmaker Eduardo Roy Jr.’s Cinemalaya 2012 entry, Lola Igna. (Last year, he won special mention in Vancouver for his debut film, Bahay Bata.)

Round-robin style

During the HAF, set at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, each filmmaker will have a booth for half-hour meetings with investors, round-robin style.

But it’s not literally like a blind date, Garcia said. “A business matching division first studies the projects and looks for people who may be interested.” HAF considers the track record and previous films of both parties, he said.

HAF offers casual “networking” sessions as well, said Garcia. At the end of the forum, awards—with cash prizes—will be handed out: HAF Award (for HK and non-HK projects), US$20,000; Wouter Barendrecht, $6,600; Technicolor Asia, $25,000; Paris Project, 5,000 euros; Network of Asian Fantastic Films, $2,700; HAF Script Development Fund, HK$100,000.

“This year, for the first time, Fox Studio will give HK$100,000 as first-look deal for Chinese-language films,” Garcia added.

Garcia advised Filipino filmmakers to study the scene carefully before applying for next year’s HAF. “Visit our website. Ask yourself, ‘Will my film benefit from a co-production deal?’”

He urges them to watch Marlon Rivera’s Ang Babae sa Septic Tank—about two amateur filmmakers’ misadventures in an attempt to catch the world’s attention.

“They should not worry about what foreigners would think,” Garcia said. “They should concentrate on the films they want to make and craft it the best way they can. If you make a good film, the buyers will come.”

HKIFFS will host the 6th Asian Film Awards (March 19) and the 36th Hong Kong International Film Festival (March 21 to April 5).

Three Filipinos are competing in this year’s AFA: Eugene Domingo (best actress, “Septic”), Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino (supporting actress, “Niño”) and Chris Martinez (screenplay, “Septic”).

(by Bayani San Diego, Jr. from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, with permission from the author)