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30 Jan – 9 Feb 2025

Latest NFF+HBF support goes to projects from China and Thailand

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The Hubert Bals Fund’s joint venture with the Netherlands Film Fund awards production funds to former HBF-supported projects that have an attached Dutch co-producer. In the scheme’s first award of 2024, projects by Thai filmmaker Phuttiphong Aroonpheng and Chinese filmmaker Gao Zee are both awarded €75,000. Both distinct, they each have powerful and enlightening comments to make on multiculturalism and diversity in their regions. 

Concept still: The Burning Giants

Phuttiphong Aroonpheng’s first feature film Manta Ray, which looked at the plight of Rohingya refugees, won Venice’s Orizzonti prize for best film in 2018. A related investigation forms the background to his latest project, The Burning Giants, told this time through the perspective of migrant Karen workers in Thailand.

In dreamlike magical-realist style the film journeys between Bangkok where they work with a precarious status, to their mountain homelands where the creation of a national park has led to the forced and violent exile of villages. Presented at CineMart in 2023, the project is awarded through its Dutch co-producer Sluizer Films BV.

Concept still: Raja’s Early Summer

Chinese filmmaker Gao Zee screened her short film The Funeral of Spring at IFFR 2023, an intimate work on a woman in rural China who faces the repressive bindings of her environment after the arrival of a stranger. Raja’s Early Summer will be her feature debut, and similarly deals with such a rural encounter, this time between Raja, a Hui woman who is consumed by her disciplined daily life, and Chu Xia, a Shanghainese filmmaker.

The film is set in a secluded village along China’s Silk Road, a region that hosts diverse Chinese ethnic groups. As well as investigating this diversity, the film tackles queer themes and the moral implications of filmmaking itself. It’s awarded through applicant producer Family Affairs Films.

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