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Hrithik's muscles dominate another awards show, Daniel Dae Kim is King or I in London theater, and Chinese animated film takes on human trafficking. All this and more in the latest edition of News from Abroad.
IFFLA honors Jodhaa Akbar in Macau
The Indian International Film Academy finished its annual awards show this past Sunday in Macau's Venetian Hotel. This year's winning film was Jodhaa Akbar, taking not only Top Film, but Best Director (Ashutosh Gowariker), Best Actor (Hrithik Roshan), and Best Music (A.R. Rahman). Jodhaa Akbar, the romance of two nobles with conflicting religious beliefs, staved off heavy competition from blockbuster Ghajini. Other major awards included Priyanka Chopra's award for Best Actress and Kangana Ranaut's Best Female in a Supporting Role in Fashion. Best Male Supporting Role went to Arjun Rampal for Rock On!, Lagaan was declared Best Film of the Decade, the Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Rajesh Khanna, and Best Male and Female Actor and Actress of the Decade were awarded to Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai, respectively. Rakesh Roshan received Director of the Decade and A.R. Rahman took home Composer of the Decade. The Best of the Decade awards were given to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the IIFA Awards. The show itself proved to be an extravaganza, including many famous celebrities and a performance by Cirque du Soleil. The revenues from the show also noted an ability to turn a large profit in a film industry plagued by piracy. --Frederick Steihl
Kochikame to go live
TBS recently announced that it will turn Osamu Akimoto's Kochira Katsushikaku Kameari Kouenmae Hashutsujo comedy manga into a live-action adaptation, featuring SMAP's Shingo Katori as the lead character, Kankichi Ryotsu. Kochikame has been serialized in Shonen Jump for over 30 years, selling over 130 tankoubon copies and having also been adapted into an anime series, theatre show, and a live-action film. The manga follows Kankichi Ryotsu, an officer based in Kameari Park in Tokyo's Katsushika ward. Katori was also recently featured on the cover of Shonen Jump on June 1st, as the first Japanese person to appear on the magazine ever. Actors Karina and Hayami Mocomichi also join the cast, as fellow police officers Reiko Catherine Akimoto and Keiichi Nakagawa. LaSalle Ishii, who voiced Kankichi in the anime series and stage show, will play Kankichi's on the show. To also further promote the series, Katori will appear on police posters to promote the prevention of traffic accidents involving children during summer vacation, and will also make scheduled appearances as Kankichi at police-sponsored events. --Kanara Ty
Shanghai International Film Festival underway
At this year's Shanghai International Film Festival, mainland Chinese director Ning Hao told the press, "we're 100 years behind the Americans.... Their economies and their fundamentals are so advanced. We need to do our homework." Ning was talking about pre-production and financing, but his comments can be applied to mainstream Chinese film culture more generally. As such, this year's SIFF is like a cram course, with sidebars on the French New Wave (Breathless, Jules and Jim) and Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho, Rear Window), topics that are old news in most film-loving communities. So, not 100 years behind, but maybe 25. On the other hand, the subjects of some of this year's selections are so bizarre as to transcend time itself. Is the festival screening of Marley & Me a reflection of old school film values? Is the screening of Pink Panther 2 a camp appreciation that's way ahead of its time? Is the fact that Eagle Eye is playing a subversive statement about surveillance and control in present-day China? Many of the Chinese films playing (such as those up for the Jin Jue Award and the Asian New Talent Award) are relatively unknown even in the festival circuit, but if they're up to the caliber of Bride Wars, Confession of a Shopaholic, and High School Musical 3: Senior Year (all playing at the festival), then Ning Hao has much to be proud of. --Brian Hu
Exile on top in first half of '09
Exile comes out on top again as the group took top sales in the first half of 2009, a feat they also achieved in 2008. From December 15 to June 7, the pop group sold 5.48 billion yen worth of CDs and DVDs, according to Oricon numbers. Mr. Children's SUPERMARKET FANTASY sits at the top position for individual album sales, having been the only group to break a million, while Arashi holds on to the top two spots in single sales with their releases, "Believe/Kumori Nochi, Kaisei" and "Ashita no Kiouku/Crazy Moon" respectively. Arashi's Arashi Around Asia 2008 in Tokyo has sold 355,000 copies, also making it to the top spot for DVD sales, the first music DVD to do so. --Kanara Ty
Daniel Dae Kim in The King and I
Making the most of his rising fame, as well as time off in between tapings, Lost star Daniel Dae Kim is slated to play the King of Siam in a revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I. The production is based in London with a theater capable of housing up to 3,000 audience members. Catch Daniel Dae Kim in the Broadway classic June 12-28 at Royal Albert Hall. Fans of Lost, rest assured that after the 20 shows in London, Daniel Dae Kim is scheduled to finish shooting the last season of Lost in Hawaii, starting in August. --Timothy Natividad
From My Sassy Girl to Hollywood
Korean actress Jun Ji Hyun, who is better known as the star of comedy My Sassy Girl is making her Hollywood debut next month in the movie Blood: The Last Vampire. In the movie, directed by French director Chris Nahon, Jun plays a half-vampire who uses her samurai sword to kill vampires. The movie is based on a Japanese anime that was released in 2000. CNN listed it as the No. 3 film on its "15 Movies for Geeks in 2009" list in January. --Kristie Hang
Zhang Hanyu's short film tackles human trafficking
Popular Mandarin actor Zhang Hanyu is engaging in the fight against human trafficking by voicing the protagonist of the animated short Intersection. The film itself is told from the perspective of five characters, among them a brothel owner, a trafficker, and a victim. The short itself is produced by MTV's EXIT (End Exploitation and Trafficking), an organization which works with the US Agency for International Development. MTV EXIT has also worked with Rain and Angelina Jolie. The short has already been broadcast in Southeast Asia in both English and Thai, and other languages are being planned. China is one of the many nations of Asia struggling with the problem of human trafficking, incurring even the death penalty in the most extreme instances. Human trafficking in China is not only limited to prostitution, as poverty-stricken Chinese seek to illegally enter other countries by giving large sums of money to "snakeheads," who force the immigrant to work almost as slaves when they arrive. Zhang Hanyu, who won a major award at the Golden Horse Awards for his performance in The Assembly, joins actress Chinese Yuan Quan and Taiwanese singer-actor Alec Su in voicing the animation. --Frederick Steihl
China proposes a theme park for Hello Kitty in 2013
The iconic feline, Hello Kitty to get her own theme park? According to various Chinese media sources, during the Zhejiang Investment and Trade Symposium on June 9, a ceremony was held to showcase an investment agreement with Sanrio, the branding company responsible for Hello Kitty and other Sanrio characters. The plan for the theme park is set to cost 215 million dollars and has been proposed for construction in the eastern coast city of Huzhou, for a size of 328 acres. The developers are hoping for a June 2013 opening date, boasting 3D animation and high tech attractions as well. -–Kanara Ty
Date Posted: 6/19/2009