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Middle East presence in Hong Kong during the 2012 HAF

 

Middle East presence in Hong Kong during the 2012 HAF.

Alongside this year’s FILMART, Hong Kong’s key international TV and film market, HAF (Asia Film Financing Forum) Hong Kong took place from 19-21 March. HAF is an annual event where filmmakers from around the world are awarded prizes of up to HK$350K in development funds. This year eight awards were given to filmmakers for select projects that showed exceptional merit; these won prizes in money and an impetus for the advancement of the project itself. Every year 25-30+ projects are selected. This year a total of 32 film projects were presented.

Out of the 32 international projects presented at HAF this year, two of them were from the Middle East region. One of the films presented was “1982” by Lebanese writer/director Oualid Mouaness and producer Feyrouz Serhal about an 11 year-old boy Wissam in pre-war Lebanon whose main concerns are math problems and first love. In this coming-of-age story Wissam loses his innocence almost over night when his previous world of love and math problems turns into war between Israel and Lebanon after Israel’s air invasion over Beirut in 1982.

The other ME project presented at this year’s HAF was “Here Comes The Sun” by Israeli director Eitan Anner. This is a story where Hollywood Western meets psychological drama when 42 year-old Israeli, Avner Mendelson, returns home to Israel after twenty years in the USA to build a photovoltaic power plant for a Bedouin village. What began as a good deed turns into a battle between Avner with his family and the Bedouin community at large. Avner fights a lonely battle to carry out what he came to do only to find his greatest battle is with himself. According to HAF’s Lucas Rosant (HAF and Dubai Film Connection), both films raised a lot of interest in meetings for further development. Beyond receiving awards, the filmmakers at HAF connect with sales agents, buyers and financiers to further the development of their projects.

Regarding the Hong Kong FILMART, which took place alongside HAF, I asked one sales agent about Asian buyers’ interest for Middle Eastern content. I was told that apparently the most popular films from the MENA region this year are the Lebanese film ”Where Do We Go Now?” by Nadine Labaki” and the Oscar winning Iranian film “A Separation” by Asghar Farhadi; both of these have done remarkably well in the Asian market. As far as smaller more regional art films from the MENA region, however, there proves an almost nonexistent market in Far East territories as of yet, the flavor there craving larger scale local productions or Hollywood mainstream.

-written by Vanessa McMahon. March 24, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

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