Magazine article Screen International

Beauty in the East: Filmart 2011

Magazine article Screen International

Beauty in the East: Filmart 2011

Article excerpt

Hong Kong Filmart (March 21-24) is growing in importance as more international buyers and producers head to the event to conduct face-to-face business with the Asian film industry.

"We believe anyone who wants to sell to Asia has to come to Asia," says Raymond Yip, assistant executive director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), the organiser of the Hong Kong International Film & TV Market (Filmart) which runs from March 21-24.

It is not easy to sell into Asia. Its largest box-office territory, Japan, has scaled back on acquisitions and China, the world's fifth biggest market, is restricted by import quotas. But the region is emerging as a source of capital and, for some sellers, the challenging sales environment only increases the need to travel to Hong Kong. They have to work hard to sell Western titles into the region. "Everyone used to go to the West but [Asia is] becoming a buyers' market [for Western product]," says Yip. "The emergence of China is another factor that attracts visitors [to Filmart]."

The market, which is celebrating its 15th edition this year, has grown steadily since 2005 when it switched to a pre-Cannes slot and became an anchor event within Entertainment Expo Hong Kong. It has also taken full advantage of growth in the mainland China market, as well as providing a platform for executives from Japan, Korea and South-East Asia to do business.

It remains a predominantly Asian event -- around 50% of the visitors are from Hong Kong, 34% from the rest of Asia and 16% from outside the region. But US and European participation is starting to increase now the global sales business is showing signs of recovery.

One element which should boost Western participation this year is a US pavilion organised by the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA), which was recently granted $248,000 from the US Department of Commerce to boost exports of US films. More than 20 US sales companies will attend under the IFTA umbrella including Lionsgate, Lakeshore, Myriad Pictures and Cinema Management Group (CMG).

Also new is a pan-European pavilion which is being organised by European Film Promotion (EFP). By late February, more than a dozen sales companies had signed up for the EFP umbrella, including Germany's Beta Film and The Match Factory, Spain's Latido Films, and Italy's Intramovies, Rai Trade and Fandango. Unifrance will have a separate presence at the market as usual and the UK will be represented by UK Film Export International.

On the Asian front, Yip says the Korean pavilion will be 50% bigger this year, as digital contents body KOCCA is joining forces with the Korean Film Council (KOFIC), while the Japan pavilion will be 20% bigger. The market will also feature a country pavilion from Cambodia for the first time.

Co-production platforms

Filmart strives to be more than a trading platform -- many participants come looking for financing or co-production partners. Access points for this include the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF), which has grown to become one of the region's premier co-production markets.

In addition to its usual activities, HAF has teamed up this year with Ateliers du Cinema Européen (ACE) and consultancy Sinapses Asia, who are organising a Sino-European projects workshop, Co-production Lab Hong Kong. A total of 16 projects -- six from Europe and 10 from Chinese-speaking countries -- have been selected to participate in the four-day event. …

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