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Hong Kong filmmakers excel at Cannes

Hong Kong Trade Development Council provides complimentary business-centre services at the Hong Kong Pavilion, including space for Hong Kong film professionals to meet with clients, screen Hong Kong film trailers and distribute promotional materials.
Many Hong Kong film companies make use of the Hong Kong Pavilion for meetings, press and networking events.
Overseas buyers are attracted by the trailer of a Hong Kong film.
Film workers, buyers and journalists converged at Hong Kong Pavilion during Dim Sum Hours - a complimentary service provided by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.
Picture shows (left to right) Simon Yam, Louis Koo and Johnnie To attending a press conference at Hong Kong Pavilion to promote Election 2.

As the Cannes Film Market concluded last Saturday (May 27), Hong Kong filmmakers were coming home with fruitful results.

The premiere of Johnnie To's Election 2 was held on the closing day at Cannes Film Market. Shan Ding, Assistant General Manager of Milkyway Image (HK) Ltd said the response was overwhelming - even better than the response to Election 1. Mr Ding disclosed that the sales performance was better than expected, with buyers from Germany, the UK, Canada, Australia, Spain, Israel, Brazil and Eastern Europe. A French company, ARP acquired both Election 1 & 2 to arrange for theatrical release in France in the first and second half of July respectively. Mr Ding quoted a distributor saying that the film is US audiences' cup of tea. The film will be screened at US cinemas later this year, with a strong publicity campaign.

Rob-b-hood starring Jackie Chan was one of the highlights for Emperor Motion Pictures this year. Ricky Tse, General Manager of Distribution, said the group has concluded successful sales for its own works and other productions, for which they acted as sales agents. Buyers included those from Southeast Asia, Korea, Italy, Germany, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. He said there was an obvious increase in the number of buyers from Brazil and Eastern Europe including Russia, the Czech Republic and Romania.

Apart from its promotional drive for The Banquet, Media Asia Entertainment Group Limited pre-sold several new productions. Jeffrey Chan, Head of Distribution and Sales with the company, said Confession of Pain, directed by Andrew Lau, recorded encouraging sales with buyers from the Chinese mainland, Japan, France, Greece, Romania and Croatia. Johnnie To's Exiled also secured buyers from Japan, Romania and Croatia.

Dragon Tiger Gate, produced by Mandarin Films Distribution Co Ltd, was well received by international buyers at its promotion in Cannes. Virginia Leung, Head of Distribution with Mandarin, said the film with its creative and spectacular action scenes, attracted a lot of attention from buyers including Japanese giant Gaga Communications and distributors from Germany, Spain, Brazil and the Middle East. Some of the buyers, who concluded their deals in Cannes, began their negotiations as early as March this year when they met Mandarin at the Hong Kong International Film & TV Market (FILMART).

Siuming Tsui, President of Sundream Motion Pictures was pleased with the sales result in Cannes as the company successfully closed a multiple film package on its three major releases - A Battle of Wits, 49 Days and Eye in The Sky with Sahamongkol Films of Thailand. A Brazilian video production house concluded a deal on 49days and Eye in the Sky.

In addition to film trade, Sundream entered into a co-production agreement with Huayi Brothers Film of the Chinese mainland. Mr Tsui said Sundream's new work Howling Arrow, directed by Sammo Hung, grabbed a lot of attention since its introduction at Hong Kong FILMART earlier this year. The film, involving an investment of US$16 million, finally secured a co-production partner in Cannes.

Hong Kong Pavilion providing more than just Hong Kong Films

The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) led six film companies to exhibit at Cannes and organised the Hong Kong Pavilion at the Village International. Over 100 press interviews and business meetings were arranged during the Cannes Film Market, attracting over 1,500 visitors.

One added feature at Village International was the provision of key business facilities and media support throughout the market period. Besides meeting space, there was an area for screening trailers and distributing promotional materials, plus an added attraction - complimentary dim sum during selected hours of the market.

TDC's Senior Service Promotion Manager, Sophia Chong said TDC was leveraging on the growing interest in Asian cinema at Cannes.

"We observed that buyers from markets like Eastern & Southern Europe were increasingly interested in Hong Kong movies - they were not only looking for martial-art films, but also black comedy, thrillers and animation films produced by Hong Kong filmmakers."

"Our pavilion also provides an excellent opportunity for Hong Kong's film companies to pursue business leads that began in March at the Hong Kong Film & TV Market (FILMART). In a way, FILMART has become a prelude to Cannes." said Ms Chong.

FILMART as a Prelude to Cannes

Joseph Lai, CEO of International Finance Development Films and Arts Ltd said that business discussions begun at FILMART were carried forward to Cannes. He added that buyers from around the world were very positive about both the quality and competitiveness of Hong Kong films.

Mr Lai said he started negotiations with a film company from Turkey at FILMART and closed the deal at Cannes - selling the distribution rights for 29 animation projects including Alibaba and Devil's Daughter. Contracts with similar terms were signed with a Bulgarian company. "It's a sign proving their confidence in Hong Kong's animation work."

Mr. Lai added that over 100 English martial-arts films produced in Hong Kong were sold in a package to companies in Spain and Africa.

Alvin Lam, Chief Operations Officer of Universe said he confirmed co-operation agreements with companies from South East Asia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, France, the UK, Germany, Spain and Scandavian countries during FILMART. And at Cannes, he signed contracts with film units from Brazil, Greece, Italy and Hungary.

Mr. Lam added that directors such as Pang Brothers, Johnnie To and Benny Chan were popular among international buyers.

Greater Variety on Genre

Mei Ah Entertainment Group had a line-up of 10 movies including new and yet-to-shoot productions for 2006. Sara Law, Vice President of Distribution with the company, said sales were very encouraging at Cannes with buyers from the US, the UK and France. Among them, US independent film-maker The Weinstein Company bought six new works and library packages, including Johnnie To's PTU and a few other action movies.

While overseas buyers had special interest in Hong Kong's action/martial arts movies and thrillers, Ms Law said Mei Ah's black comedy productions, directed by Pang Ho Cheung, won admiration from French buyers in particular. Film distributors from Thailand, who are showing increasing appreciation of Hong Kong productions, acquired 40 action/martial arts movies from Mei Ah's library for video distribution.

In addition, Nan Wong, General Manager of Intercontinental Film Distributors HK Ltd said the company and its partner Kadokawa were focusing on distribution rights in South East Asia. For example, Gamera the Brave was sold to J-bics and Keroro was acquired by Rose. Both companies are based in Thailand.

For press enquiries, please contact TDC Corporate Communication Department at 2584 4049.

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