Ali's Wedding, a planned romantic comedy by The Home Song Stories director Tony Ayres, inched closer to becoming a reality when it was the only Australian film chosen to be pitched at the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF).
Events such as HAF put filmmakers in contact with investors, distributors, bankers and others with an interest in film; being chosen increases the chance of securing production financing.
Most of the other 30 projects to be presented at HAF, which runs March 19-21, are from the Asian region although creative teams are also coming from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Iceland, Israel, France, the UK, Armenia, Italy and Lebanon.
Ali's Wedding is based on the true story of what happened to the son of a Muslim cleric from a Melbourne mosque. In the film, the cheeky, charming Ali is forced to lead a double life in order not to disappoint his parents: he feels obliged to accept an arranged marriage to a young woman in the community, despite having fallen in love with someone else, and lie about his marks. Inevitably, it all begins to unravel.
Ayres will attend HAF with either Michael McMahon or Helen Panckhurst, the two producers working with him on Ali's Wedding. The script is written by Andrew Knight and Osamah Sami, who had an on-screen role opposite Claudia Karvan in the telemovie Saved, which Ayres directed and McMahon produced for SBS TV. Sami was born in Iran and began his acting career there, before immigrating to Australia when he was 12 years old.
“I would love to shoot some of Ali's Wedding in the Middle East,” said McMahon, who intends to seek out what assistance might be available for filming in the region.
Ayres and McMahon are also working together on the feature films The Actresses, a comedy about four best friends vying for the role of a lifetime, and Cut Snake, a thriller set against the backdrop of the 1973 Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub fire that killed 15 people in Brisbane. The latter tells the story of a man aiming to reconnect with his former cellmate.
Ayres, McMahon, Panckhurst, Penny Chapman and Helen Bowden established the production partnership Matchbox Pictures in 2008. One of the company's most recent credits was the critically-acclaimed miniseries The Slap.
The official organiser is the HK International Film Festival Society, a non-profit, non-government organisation that also runs the HK International Film Festival and the Asian Film Awards.
The full list of HAF projects can be found here.