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Asian Films Win Cash Awards At HAF

Friday, March 23---Five Asian films in development won awards valued at $97,000 at the closing ceremonies of the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) on Thursday evening. Organized by the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society and co-organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the Hong Kong, Kowloon & New Territories Motion Picture Industry Association Ltd., the Hong Kong - Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) is a film project market that aims to bring the most exciting Asian filmmakers with upcoming film projects to Hong Kong for international co-production ventures. By bringing together Asia's top filmmaking talents to meet with the world's premier film financiers, producers, bankers, distributors, buyers and funding bodies, HAF provides a unique opportunity for filmmakers to privately discuss their latest projects with a variety of potential co-production partners over the three-day event period. With past HAF projects chosen as Oscar entries and participating in official selection of prestigious film festivals such as Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Toronto and Rotterdam, HAF is an important Asian film event on the international film festival circuit.

Chosen from 25 projects, the five winning films were led by director Clara Law's THE MESSENGER,  which won both the $13,000 HAF Award for a Hong Kong project and the Technicolor Thailand Post-Production Service Award. Law, an Australian Chinese known for her films THE GODDESS OF 1967 and FLOATING LIFE, are still looking to complete the financing on her $6 million mystery love story, about a psychic who helps a policeman on a missing persons case.

The HAF Award of $13,000 for a project from outside Hong Kong went to Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda for his NIGHT-FRAGRANT FLOWER, based on the true story of 1930s Chinese actress Li Xiangian, who was sentenced to death for treason. The director is best known for his previous films AFTER LIFE (1999) which won many critics prizes and NOBODY KNOWS (2004), which was screened in competition at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.

The Rome Film Festival Award for $15,000 went to South Korean director Kim Ji-Woon's THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WEIRD, an Asian twist on the spaghetti Westerns popularized by Italian cinema icon Sergio Leone. The director is best known internationally for his fantasy horror films THE FOUL KING (2000), which won him Best Director honors at the Milan International Film Festival and A TALE OF TWO SISTERS (2003), which was widely seen on the fantasy/horror festival circuit, winning Best Film and Best Director prizes at the Fantasporto Film Festival in Portugal.

Sandy Mandelberger, Awards Watch Editor

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