Asia’s most significant film market, the Hong Kong Filmart, has been moved from its scheduled date in March to a new slot in the summer, due to fears over the continued spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Instead of running March 25-28, the event will run a streamlined edition, taking place for three days August 27-29. The concurrent Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum has also been moved.
Organizer Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) released a statement today confirming the news, explaining the decision was made for “the safety and well-being of our exhibitors and participants”.
“The decision is made in response to the preventive measures taken by the Hong Kong SAR Government and health authorities worldwide to contain the novel coronavirus epidemic,” it added.
Those dates put the event just two weeks before the Toronto International Film Festival (September 10-20 this year), posing a separate challenge for sellers and buyers.
This morning, the Chinese government has confirmed a spike in cases of the prolific virus. That follows yesterday when the lowest numbers of new infections for two weeks were reported, raising optimism that the epidemic could be contained as early as April.
Reports this morning state that the death toll has risen to 1,380, and the number of infections is rising close to 60,000. At least 25 countries now have confirmed cases and the World Health Organization has called it a “grave threat”.
The number of reported infections in Hong Kong remains relatively low, but the postponing of Filmart comes as little surprise as the event was facing an immense challenge to go ahead this year.
Even back in December, before the coronavirus became international news, we reported that the political unrest in Hong Kong in 2019 was already posing a serious challenge for Filmart for 2020, with several international sales agents telling us they were considering not attending.
Last year’s Filmart attracted more than 9,000 visitors from 52 countries.