By Jean Noh
Published March 14, 2023
“I feel like Filmart is as busy as it’s ever been,” said Felix Tsang, sales and acquisitions manager at Hong Kong-based Golden Scene, of the market’s first physical edition since 2019. “There are so many new projects being released, especially Hong Kong projects. I think most people know that Hong Kong films have been doing very well for the past year and it’s good to have the industry revived again.”
Organisers said this year’s market has attracted more than 700 exhibitors from 30 countries and regions with a record number of more than 330 mainland exhibitors.
More than 20 umbrella stands took in Europe, Japan, Korea and Taiwan among others, even if they did not cover Singapore or the UK as in previous years.
Due to uncertainties regarding public health regulations, the market saw late registrations with many sellers opting to join umbrella stands or as “visitors” hosting meetings in cafes and restaurants instead of taking booths independently, but still doing active business.
“Filmart’s first in-person edition since the pandemic brought back much-needed energy,” said Thien A. Pham, founder of US-based 3388 Films. “As a buyer for North America, we sense some differences this time around – perhaps fewer exhibitors and attendees overall, and so not as many titles for us to consider. But this is likely more a reflection of changes across the whole industry, and not specific to Filmart.”
Pham added that remains a challenge for sales agents as industry trends are favouring tentpole titles over small to mid-sized. “There is more caution in acquisition, especially if it relates to theatrical distribution,” he added.
The market has picked up its role as the place to meet buyers – especially from China and Southeast Asia – who do not travel as much to Europe and the US, and for Chinese content to shine.
Clement Magar, general manager at Amsterdam and Beijing-based Fortissimo Films, is handling Chinese animation Deep Sea, which screened at last month’s Berlinale. “For us it’s very exciting to have a Chinese movie that is very much gathering attention, making sales and theatrical plans,” he said. “We are meeting a lot of Asians so it’s good to be here. The buyers are different from Berlin.”
Lovinia Chiu, chairman and CEO of Medialink Group, which distributed Japanese animation hit The First Slam Dunk in Hong Kong and Macau to the tune of more than HK$42.4m at the box office, said: “As a buyer, the quality of films is becoming better and better every year.
“The way I see it, Filmart offers mostly new movies from China and Hong Kong. Stories are more evocative than in the past, and animated movies’ presence seems prominent now as well.”
Sellers also noted that in addition to more recent festival titles, library package sales can also add up, making the trip a worthy one.
Despite the continued mainland China freeze on Korean content, Korean sellers have seen continued interest from buyers who want to be prepared for the day the unofficial ban is lifted.
“We’ve had a lot of meetings here, mostly with Chinese-speaking territory buyers who have told us they are putting Korean content on par with English-language titles,” said Mihwa Park, team leader, International Business Team, at Acemaker movieworks.
At the Europe! umbrella stand, easily one of the busiest stands on the market floor, European Film Promotion (EFP) deputy managing director Jo Muhlberger noted that having all the companies together is not only creating a synergy effect atmosphere-wise, but also has the added practicality of sales agents being able to collegially share insights and opinions in between meetings as they go along.
“Most of us sales agents on the stand agree that networking is a big part of it,” said Mathilde Colle, sales executive and marketing at France’s The Party Film Sales. “We are getting to meet with buyers we haven’t seen in a long time because of Covid, and it feels like we’re getting back on track.
“The Asian market is doing quite good. This is the right place to be for meeting Asian buyers, especially from South Asia and the kind of buyers it is hard to catch elsewhere.”
Silvia Wong contributed to this report