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Bollywood strikes, Hard Gay also strikes (sort of), and a tragic farewell to a popular Korean actress. All this and more in the latest edition of News from Abroad.
Strike on Bollywood
An entertainment industry strike, similar to the recent one-hundred day Hollywood writers strike, has hit Bollywood. In reaction to delayed salaries, a crowd of nearly 150,000 representing the Federation of Western India Cine Employees rallied together on October 1, demanding that contracts be honored and pay be distributed. In some instances, it has been nearly six months since workers, from film-dancing girls to carpenters, lighting technicians to cameramen, and soundmen to script writers, have received any compensation. As a result, Bollywood’s reality TV and daily shows are being forced to cancel their shooting schedules. The strike comes at a peak time in the film festival season, which is expected to help soften the strike effects due to workers taking leave. The Association of Motion Picture and Television Programme Producers said it hoped to avoid a protracted shutdown. --LiAnn Ishizuka
Choi Jin-sil passes away
Shocking fans around the world and stunning the opening night guests of Korea's annual Pusan International Film Festival, news of Korean actress Choi Jin-sil's reported suicide spread on Thursday, October 2nd. Choi's career began in the 80s, and her consistent mainstream roles earned her the reputation as Korea's sweetheart or "The Nation's Actress." She's most known for her performances in highly rated TV dramas, such as Roses and Beansprouts and My Rosy Life, but she also juggled roles in respected films such as My Love, My Bride and Partison's of South Korea. Most recently she had completed the first season of TV drama The Last Scandal of My Life, with Jung Joon ho, and was in preparation for a second season when she took her life. --Ada Tseng
Studio Ghibli takes it to a new Level on the Nintendo DS
Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro) is pairing up with esteemed Japanese game developer Level 5 (Dragon Quest VIII, Professor Layton and the Curious Village)to create an original Nintendo DS game called Ninokuni: THE ANOTHER WORLD. The story follows a 13-year old boy whose actions inadvertently causes his mom to die. Aiyah! But luckily for him, a fairy appears, gives him a magical book that takes him to a mysterious world that parallels his own. Somewhere in this alternate world is a means to bring his mom back. Kind of reminds me of that old show Sliders. Good stuff. Studio Ghibli will be handling the animation while Level 5 will work their usual magic to create another solid adventure role playing game. The game will be the first in a line of the developer's "10 Anniversary" products. Studio Ghibli and Level 5 know what they are doing, especially since everybody and their grandma owns a DS in Japan. Me? I still get headaches solving math problems in Brain Age. Anyways, sneak a peek at screenshots and character designs here. --William Hong
Hard Gay goes Samurai
Akira Kurosawa's treasured Seven Samurai will finally get its stage adaptation for the first time since the film graced the silver screen in 1954. Titled Samurai 7, the stage play will be based off of the semi-futuristic anime remake, which featured mechas in a steampunk setting, but yet characters still wielded katanas. Originally taken on by Takashi Skimura and Toshiro Mifune in the 1954 version, the lead roles of Kambei Shimada and Kikuchiyo will be played by actor/martial arts expert Masaya Kato and Razor Ramon HG himself, Masaki Sumitani. Sumitani had retired his Hard Gay character following his marriage to model Anna Suzuki in 2006, but recently returned to the entertainment spotlight as he had a starring role in the jidaigeki (period drama), Hanaka. The director of the production will be Shunichi Okamura, who was also responsible for the stage version of Azumi, as well as the Avex-produced musical Kokoro no Kakera. Performances will take place in November at the Shinjuku Koma Stadium. –-Kanara Ty
Asian Film Market Depressions, PIFF support
The fact that global economies are experiencing dramatic lows means consequential rippling effects are everywhere -- even at the 13th annual Pusan International Film Festival in Busan, South Korea. Recognized internationally as one of the most significant Asian film festivals, this year’s Pusan festival chief programmer Jay Jeon commented that “PIFF's challenge, set against a decreased level of investment, is to engage people in the industry once again." Film production in South Korea is experiencing slumps. Korea will have only 30 films produced this year compared to 112 in 2007. In addition, figures claim that only 13 of those 112 ever managed to break even. And in Hong Kong, fewer than 50 local films have been released in the past 12 months. But there exists some optimism to help turn the industry around, with emerging film trends and support. Of the 315 films to be screened this year, the Kazakhstani film The Gift to Stalin by Kazakhstani director Rustem Abdrashev opened the festival and is set to receive the Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award. Pusan organizers said that side events like the Pusan Promotion Plan and Asian Cinema Fund forum will hopefully aid struggling productions and bring in investors. The Pusan International Film Festival started Oct 2 and will last to Oct 10. For more information about PIFF, click here. --LiAnn Ishizuka
South Korea's HYD Fever continues with F4 Casting
On the heels of the Japan's and Taiwan's live-action versions of Yoko Kamio's Hana Yori Dango (Boys over Flowers), South Korean production company Group Eight announced in March of this year that they will be producing a South Korean version of the popular shoujo manga, with 24 70-minute episodes lined up for its December premiere. Earlier this week, a press release was issued for the announcement of the casting of the F4 boys: actor Lee Min-ho as Tsukasa Doumyouji (Korean name: Goo Joon Pyo), SS501 member Kim Hyun-joong as Rui Hanazawa (Korean name: Yoon Ji Hoo), East of Eden actor Kim Bum as Soujiroh Nishikado (Korean name: So Lee Jung) and rounding out the group, Kim Joon as Akira Mimasaka (Korean name: Song Yu Bin). Tsukushi Makino, the show's female lead, has yet to be announced. Filming is set to take place mid October, with shooting to begin overseas. –Kanara Ty
Vancouver chooses the Perfect Life
Each year, the Vancouver International Film Festival gives out the Dragons & Tigers award to a promising new filmmaker from the Asia Pacific region. This year, the prize went to Emily Tan's Perfect Life (Wanmei Shenghuo), for "the way it captures the harshness of Chinese reality [and] the subtlety of its wonderfully free storytelling." The film follows a 21-year old girl working as a hotel maid and a divorced mother of two. Special mentions were also awarded to director Yokohama Satoko for his film German + Rain and Gao Wendong for Sweet Food City. --Ada Tseng
That's Professor Chiba to You, Buddy!
Veteran Japanese actor and martial artist star Sonny Chiba recently was appointed a guest professorship at the Kyoto University of Art and Design. As a visiting professor, Chiba will instruct in the Film Studies department, with his course focusing on film acting over the next year and a half. The class will also feature skills on sword fighting. Chiba recently changed his name from Shinichi Chiba to JJ Sonny Chiba Chiba. Chiba retired from acting and has planned to open martial arts schools on action and martial arts performance. –Kanara Ty
Date Posted: 10/3/2008