Asian American rockers find solidarity on Eugene Song's collection, Compilasian. APA breaks it down.
Armed with technical brilliance and cosmopolitan charm, Yundi Li classes up the LA Philharmonic.
Subscribe to the APA Newsletter
Tony Leung plays musical chairs, Singapore sharpens its scissors, Wong Kar-wai and Hou Hsiao-hsien open Cannes...in English and French. All this and more on the latest edition of News from Abroad.
Red Cliff Re-shuffled
A mere three days into shooting, Hong Kong mega star Chow Yun-Fat dropped out of the John Woo production, The Battle of Red Cliff. The move was due to "excessive demands," according to the film's producers. Chow reportedly was asking for more than the industry standard. Chow's side has contended that he is questioning his ability to fill such a big role in the film. Despite Chow's departure from the role, there are enough other heavy hitting stars in the production, including heartthrob Takeshi Kaneshiro and Vicki Zhao. Red Cliff, with a budget of $70 million, is easily China's most expensive film, with co-production funding coming from Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, and with international distribution rights managed in Los Angeles. It also marks the return to Chinese language features from director John Woo, who has been working consistently in Hollywood. Production is set to be scheduled around the lack of a leading man, although reports now say that Tony Leung will re-join the cast in the part first offered to Chow. --Larry Kao
Can Asia Do the Cannes Cannes?
The Cannes Film Festival selections have been finalized, and this year's selections from Asia have been significantly sparser than in previous years. Among the selected were Japan's The Forest of Mogariu, and Korean films Secret Sunshine and Breath. While Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai's latest film My Blueberry Nights was selected as the opening night film, the film employs European financing, takes place in the United States, and stars Jude Law and Norah Jones. Several traditional favorites of the festival were surprisingly passed up this year, including the mainland's Jiang Wen and Korea's Im Kwon-taek. Other Asian films from China, Thailand, South Korea, and Singapore are featured outside the main competition, the biggest being Hou Hsiao-hsien's first French-language film, Looking for the Red Balloon, which will open the Un Certain Regard competition. --Larry Kao
For a complete list of films showing at the Cannes Film Festival, please see the Cannes Film Festival homepage.
Singapore Censors Two Films
Singapore censored films Princess and Solos from their annual film festival this week over explicit religious and sexual content. The animated film Princess, which was directed by Danish Anders Morgenthaler, was cut from the program because of its blasphemous subject matter. The film is about a priest who tries to cover up a dead sister's past as porn star. There is a scene where the sister, dressed up in a nun's outfit, has a cross protruding from her rear. Though it's being censored, Princess opened in the Directors' Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival last year in May. Also cut from the program is Solos, a native film about a homosexual relationship between a man and a boy. The Singapore's Board of Film Censors claimed that the film had obscene homosexual lovemaking scenes as well as scenes with oral sex and a threesome.
The board claimed that they are usually more lax with their censorship when it comes to films featured at festivals due to their niche audiences and limited screening, but these films went over and beyond even the lenient restrictions. Co-director Loo Zihan defends his film by saying its effect is not to arouse audiences but to be viewed as a piece of art. --Julie Hong
A New Hero in Korea
Korean superstar Lee Byung Hun has signed a contract with Fuji TV to star in Hero, a movie based on a hit Japanese show. The original Hero, first aired in 2001, had Japanese actor Takuya Kimura (known for Love and Honor and 2046) playing the risky public prosecutor. The Hero special shown last year scored a remarkable rating, which encouraged Fuji to make a feature film with Kimura continuing with his role. The movie also stars Takako Matsu and Kabuki actor Koshiro Matsumoto. Lee will be Kimura's Korean partner who aids the Japanese prosecutor when he arrives in Korea's Pusan to solve a case. Although the Korean "Hallyu" wave has lessened over the years in Japan, Lee is still one of the most recognized stars in Japan because of his other Japan-released works, such as Joint Security Area and Bungee Jumping of Their Own. --Jane Yu
Fortissimo acquires Pleasure
Hong Kong and Amsterdam based Fortissimo has recently acquired rights to Pleasure Factory by Thai helmer Ekachai Uekrongtham, whose Beautiful Boxer won prizes at San Sebastian fest and LA's OutFest two years ago. The story takes place in Singapore's Geylang red light district, and is based on real events. Production was by Uekrongtham's Spicy Apple Films, with Fortissimo's Michael J Werner and Wouter Barendrecht and Lim Teck of Singapore's InnoForm as co-producers. "Ever since Ekachai brought this project to our attention, we felt that it has the potential to be something very special -- edgy yet real, sensuous yet emotional," Fortissimo's Raymond Phathanavirangoon said. Pleasure Factory stars Taiwanese actress Yang Kuei-Mei (The Wayward Cloud) and Ananda Everingham (Shutter). --Haining Ren
Japan plans to launch internet TV database
In an effort to support Japanese TV programming, the Japanese broadcasters and NHK will launch an organziation to administer an internet TV database, also sponsored by the Communications Ministry. A formal launch is yet to be decided, but related work will start in fiscal 2008. The database includes both program content and sales contacts. Interested foreign buyers of Japanese TV programming will be able to access an online database with no register fees. Estimates reveal whereas Asia is likely interested in the dramas and entertainment shows, western buyers are likely to favor format deals (like American's Funniest Home Videos) and Japanese documentaries. Exports of Japanese programming is about $42 million annually, quite short when compared to the $149 million in South Korea, which has been receiving strong governmental effort to support local content, including TV. --Haining Ren
Australia acknowledging Asian films
The government-funded Queensland Event Corporation is organizing a pan-Asian awards night to laud films from over sixty countries. The opening will be held on Nov. 13th on Queensland Gold Coast alongside the Screen Producers Association of Australia. The inception will take place at the famous Cannes Film Festival, but the UNESCO-supported Awards night itself will continue for another three years in Queensland before relocating to another country. CNN will record and globally broadcast this program special that features films from the previous year. According to Queensland Idol Peter Beattie, "The Australian Film industry will benefit greatly from the international exposure this initiative provides and the relationships that will develop between filmmakers of that region." The hosts of this event are working to ensure balance among the powerful film productions of India, Japan, Turkey, and China as well as other smaller Pacific countries. --Jane Yu
German rights to Tony Leung film Eye in the Sky bought
Eye in the Sky is a Hong Kong cop thriller starring Tony Leung Kar-fai, Simon Yam, Kate Tsui, and Lam Suet. It is about a newcomer, given the nickname "Piggy" (Kate Tsui) by her supervisor (Simon Yam), who goes through a series of training to track down jewel heist robbers and their leader, "Hollow Man" (Tony Leung Kar-fai). The case becomes increasingly tricky due to the shrewd criminal's mastery of messing with surveillance and thus leaving more questions unanswered for his hunters. Written by Johnnie To's long-time partner, Yau Nai Hoi and co-produced by To's Milky Way Image and Sundream Motion Pictures, the pic was sold to Constantin Film. The film was first shown in Berlin and was also the opening film of the Hong Kong International Film Festival. --Jane Yu
Documentary about James Hong premieres at Cannes Film Festival
For too long, James Hong has just been a famous face -- from Seinfeld, Chinatown, and others -- or a familiar voice -- from Mulan, for instance. This May, Hong finally takes center stage at the Cannes Film Festival, where Man of a Thousand Faces, a documentary about the iconic Asian American actor, is holding its world premiere. The feature-length doc chronicles Hong's career, from his work with the acting troupe East West Players, to his work on television, to his many memorable bit-parts in some of the biggest films of the past 35 years. In addition to interviews with co-stars David Carradine, Tia Carrere, and others, the documentary includes commentary by the late actor Mako. Man of a Thousand Faces is directed by Kym Secrist, who met Hong when both were working on a short film in 2000. --Brian Hu
Date Posted: 4/27/2007