Projects based on true events stand out and women filmmakers shine. The Forum also establishes a strategic partnership with Far East Film Festival to present one selected HAF project at its project market.

Projects presented by renowned Chinese filmmaker Tian Zhuangzhuang and Japanese festival favorite Ryusuke Hamaguchi are among those selected by the 17th Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF), set to be held from March 18-20.

In a lineup that includes a number of hot button political issues, there are films on the ongoing Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh and the 2010 Manila hostage standoff where a bus full of Hong Kong tourists were held captive and eight were killed. 

A total of 23 projects are shortlisted from 350 submissions from across Asia for the deal-making and funding platform this year, representing filmmaking veterans, festival darlings, HAF alumni, and emerging talents making their debuts.

Ranging from $200,000 to $10 million in production budgets, the lineup comprises a number of projects that take their cue from real life. They include documentaries Ship of Fools – Pandora’s Box by China’s Zhao Liang about post-nuclear disaster areas, and Belonging, by Bangladesh’s Abid Hossain Khan about the Rohingya people fleeing persecution in Myanmar; based-on-a-true-story dramas Between Sea and Sky by the Philippines’ Jun Robles Lana about a fisherman drifting at sea for nearly two months, and The Grandstand by director Mikhail Red, also from the Philippines, who reenacts the fatal tour bus hijacking that shook Hong Kong and led to a diplomatic impasse between the Philippines, Hong Kong, and China; and also biopic Life’s a Struggle by Taiwan’s Tom Lin Shu-Yu about the fraternal love and alienation between late Taiwanese rapper Shawn “M80” Sung and his brother Ting, and Shawn’s creation of the celebrated song from which the project takes its title.

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