March 2, 2024

The enduring popularity of the Asian LGBT and horror genres and the relationship with giant streamer Netflix were among the topics of discussion at a lively panel focusing on distribution at the Busan International Film Festival‘s Asian Contents and Film Market.

“I hate the fact that all the producers want to work with Netflix, it is also killing international sales as well. Because if all the big titles go to Netflix, it leaves very little room for independent distributors,” said Chen Shao-Yi, general manager at Screenworks Asia. “We also love Netflix because they give us money, so it’s truly a love-hate relationship.”

Chen’s fellow panelists were Nelson Mok, agent at WME Independent and Valeska Neu, international sales agent at Films Boutique and the panel was moderated by Lorna Tee, curator of Malaysian film incubator program Mylab.

LGBT and horror are among the most popular from Asia from an international sales point of view, the panelists said. “From Southeast Asia, horror is something [that] definitely travels,” Chen said. “There are a lot of LGBT films and it really works very well internationally. Not with big numbers but they travel to a lot of festivals and they do have a niche market.”

Mok said that post-pandemic audiences need a compelling reason to return to cinemas. “Horror is one of those genres that cross cultural and language boundaries, the more unknown the culture, the better, and people buy into it,” Mok said.

Both Mok and Neu spoke about creating name recognition for filmmakers in the market so that buyers become accustomed to them and look forward to their next film. “We try to build up and invest in the talents. So if you have a first time filmmaker, for example, like with ‘Tiger Stripes’ [Amanda Nell Eu’s Cannes-winning film] now, we try to make the film travel as much as we can, so that she’s getting more established and people see her work around the world. That is very important.”

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