Thursday, October 19, 2006

Asia Film Market Wrap-up

Sorry for not posting for so long. This year was, for me, probably the busiest Pusan International Film Festival I have ever experienced. It was my first year there without my old editor doing the heavy lifting. And on top of it all, I had a feature I was writing for the New York Times. It is great writing for the NYT, but it requires a totally different part of the brain than writing for the trades does. Put it all together, and you get quite a hectic and stressful PIFF... but mostly in a good way.

After seeing a few movies in the opening days, I had to spend most of my time at the Asian Film Market. This was the first official year of the AFM, at least in name. There has always been plenty of industry events at PIFF, under a series of names and acronyms. But this year they put everything together and expanded the market and gave it a name.

AFM is basically four days of industry events and showcases and stuff like that. Four floors of the Grand Hotel were filled with movie companies looking to sell their wares. Down on the lower levels of the hotel, there was a location market and seminars. In the evenings, plenty of parties.

Most of the parties were to build recognition for some movie or another, or else for an entire country's industry. But for some reason, no one knows how to throw a party because the majority of events were terrible -- long (very long), poorly written presentations about some project or another with no care or concern about whether the guests were enjoying themselves. Consider it a metaphor for the entire Korean film industry.

Korean highlights include:
- Showbox had a big bash where they revealed more footage from D-WAR, a ridiculously expensive dragons-in-Los Angeles film. D-WAR will cost an incredibly $60-million (or more). Most of the money comes from private investors (especially director Shim Hyung-rae's brother), but Showbox is investing a good hunk, too.
- Taewon Entertainment is investing in the $25-million epic THREE KINGDOMS: RESURRECTION OF THE DRAGON, which will star Andy Lau and Maggie Q.
- CJ Entertainment and Nabi Pictures presented THE RESTLESS, some sort of martial-arts/fantasy thing set in some sort of Asian purgatory with some sort of big-name cast.

Terrance Chang was there, not talking about CHRISTMAS CARGO, a big-budget Korean film that will be filmed in New Zealand eventually. If his announcement is as big as is rumored, though, it will be doozy. Since my blog is not anonymous, however, I will not talk about it yet.

I even met a squad of guys from CAA, which was pretty different. Such a different mindset from the more haphazard way the Asian movie biz usually runs. But Ken Slovitz gave me a quote (CAA usually does not talk to the press), so I was quite happy.

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