Once Asia’s largest annual gathering for film and television professionals in Asia, Hong Kong Filmart spent the last three years, like most events of its kind the world over, as a purely virtual event.
It’s making a post-pandemic comeback a little later than its counterparts in the U.S. and Europe, but Filmart is throwing open its doors in 2023 as a fully physical convention again. Running March 12-15, the confab will resume its place at Hong Kong’s Convention and Exhibition Centre, overlooking the city’s iconic Victoria Harbour.
To get a full overview of what content buyers and exhibitors should expect from a revitalized Filmart in 2023, The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Gloria Chan, section head for the entertainment industry team at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, which organizes the event.
This will be the first in-person Filmart since 2019. After learning what it takes to be a fully virtual event, what’s it like transitioning back to a physical model?
We believe all markets are facing similar challenges when pivoting to a physical setting after three years of virtual experience. The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is ready to welcome our international exhibitors and buyers to the HKCEC once again with a wide array of content and events during Filmart. Some of the participants who have only joined the virtual editions will also be able to have first-hand experience of a physical market this year.
To facilitate the ongoing business connections, Filmart’s online platform will be made available starting from March 16 for one month. The online platform allows all Filmart participants to showcase their content, connect and meet with one another, and enjoy the unlimited replay of events.
What should we look forward to at Filmart 2023?
A little background first… In this calendar year, Filmart is the first film and entertainment market in Asia. As many have observed, in the past three years, many Mainland Chinese companies were unable to attend. But at Filmart 2023, we have a great number of exhibitors coming from different provinces in China to have physical booths, so that would be a big draw. Many productions finished in the past few years will be presented. Overseas visitors can see productions from China and Hong Kong in one place, which is one of the major components of Filmart that we’re glad to be able to sustain.
Mainland Chinese companies and pavilions will continue to have a significant presence at Filmart 2023 to connect with Asian and international buyers. Major pavilions include Beijing, Fujian, Guangdong, Hangzhou, Jiangsu and Shanghai; while key OTT/ streaming platforms will also attend Filmart.
After the recent reopening of the border between China and Hong Kong, we’ve received more inquiries. Since the relaxation of travel restrictions were announced, the inquiries have been going up, especially after the vaccination and PCR test requirements were scrapped. There will be new pavilions as well as returning exhibitors from Mainland China and the rest of the world.
What COVID-19 requirements are still in place for Filmart, if any?
With all of the boarding and quarantine requirements for inbound travelers having been lifted on Dec. 29, 2022, all Filmart visitors are no longer required to undergo any tests or obtain vaccine passes before being admitted into the venue. Mask-wearing is still required, according to local regulations as of Feb. 8.
Film deals can be made all year round, and for the past few years, more of this business shifted to email and Zoom. Have you had to do more this year to convince participants to make the trip to Hong Kong again?
Echoing the “Hello Hong Kong” campaign led by the Hong Kong government, we are providing travel assistance, such as discounted hotel accommodation to overseas exhibitors and buyers who wish to visit Hong Kong. We are also going to facilitate visitors who might have to, for example, undergo PCR tests before returning to their country. We are exploring solutions that can help them, and we hope to ease their concerns. After Filmart kicks off, we will give our visitors the latest updates on changes in restrictions and travel policies.
Filmart exhibitors this year are also entitled to the Hong Kong government’s Convention and Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme, for which eligible exhibitors can enjoy a 50 percent subsidy, or HK$10,000 discount per 9 square meters of booth space (maximum HK$100,000) from their participation fee. This is, for sure, a strong incentive for worldwide exhibitors.
Are most veteran overseas visitors and exhibitors returning? How is turnout looking, so far?
Most of the regions and companies are coming back. We are expecting to be back to something similar to what we had in the past when we had a physical market. We hope that some of the new contacts we reached out to in the past virtual editions will also come and join us in person for the first time.
But not all flights have resumed, so some potential visitors are having difficulties in getting plane tickets. But our HKTDC offices around the world are reaching out to give them guidance and the latest information. The inbound traveling policies are still changing day-to-day, so our HKTDC global network of 50 offices can help to educate on the up-to-date traveling requirements.
The HKTDC global network has been playing an integral role in reaching out to various parties to keep them abreast of Hong Kong’s measures and Filmart’s offerings. Early-bird rates, group offers and assistance in facilitating international travelers’ hospitality arrangements are in place.
Hong Kong films have enjoyed a revival locally since mid-2022, with outstanding box office results. Is supporting the local industry a focus this year?
We are all delighted by the revival of Hong Kong films in the past year, and certainly a diversified range of productions are expected to be released in the months to come. Filmart 2023 continues to offer screening opportunities and support to all exhibitors for organizing premieres, press conferences and announcements during the four-day event to maximize exposure and build up the momentum for their productions.
We have already gathered a strong line-up of Hong Kong filmmakers including Edko, Emperor Motions Picture, Media Asia, Golden Scene, Mandarin Motion Picture, One Cool, PCCW, Universe Films, and many more. We are also working on a dialogue session during our EntertainmentPulse seminar series to focus on Hong Kong filmmakers for them to share their insights.
What are some of the other topics of EntertainmentPulse?
This edition, topics include dialogues with international media representatives to uncover the latest trends in production, sales and distribution. We’ll also take a look at the hype surrounding dating and romance reality shows, which have gained popularity for adaptation across markets. Chinese animation and the future of Web3 entertainment are among other topics.
A few confirmed speakers include Sebastian Kim, director of content sales & acquisitions, CJ ENM from Korea, Yosuke Muramoro, director of YD Creation, and lead producers from Yoshimoto Kogyo in Japan, and Yann Marchet, founder of Print The Legend in France.
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