Berlin 2022: hot projects from Hong Kong and China | Characteristics

This year, the EFM line-up from Hong Kong and China is dominated by titles from Rotterdam and the Berlinale, including back to dustLi Ruijun’s first outing in Competition, and Zheng Lu Xinyuan’s documentary Jet lag, which plays in Forum. Rotterdam Fees are Tiger Competition Special Jury Winners love again by Gao Linyang, animation by Lei Lei Silver bird and rainbow fishKong Dashan’s sci-fi drama Travel west and Chan Tze Woon’s hybrid documentary blue island.

In addition to the festival films, two Chinese New Year offers are on the EFM programme. The Battle of Changjin II Lakelike its predecessor, is set to become a mega blockbuster in China, while the Hong Kong comedy Chilli Laugh Story has had its local release delayed as cinemas in Hong Kong remain closed to curb rising Omicron cases.

Sales and production companies with representatives based in Europe – including Asian Shadows, Parallax Films, Rediance and Seventh Art Pictures – are expected to travel to Berlin in person. But those in Asia will continue to take the virtual route.

With the zero-Covid strategy rigidly enforced by Hong Kong and China, most trade agents have been unable to travel to overseas markets since late 2019. Hong Kong shortened its quarantine requirements from 21 to 14 days earlier this month, but the sellers who spoke to International Screen are still struggling to make international travel plans at this time. Unless quarantine requirements are lifted, a trip to Cannes in May seems unlikely.

This EFM lineup lacks mainstream and big-budget titles, but Hong Kong companies plan to showcase their latest titles at Hong Kong Filmart (March 14-17), which will stream online for the third consecutive year.


Jet lag

Real. Zheng Lu Xin Yuan
This first documentary feature, to be shown at Forum, is a personal film-essay in the form of a travelogue by Zheng Lu, whose first narrative feature The cloud in his room won the Rotterdam Tiger Award in 2020. Part of the documentary was filmed in Austria in early 2020, where Zheng Lu was stranded during the lockdown. She spent time digging into the mystery of her great-grandfather – who left his family behind in China and became a monk in Myanmar – through footage on a VHS tape and tracks she had filmed earlier. early in Myanmar. The project has received support from the Swiss fund Vision Sud Est. Contact: Xie Meng, Rediance

back to dust

Real. Li Ruijun
The debut of Li’s Competition follows two outcasts (Wu Renlin and Hai Qing) who are forced into an arranged marriage and form an unexpected bond as they overcome adversity together. Screenwriter, editor and scenographer Li sets the film in his hometown of Gaotai in Gansu province in northwestern China. The main investors are Qizi Film, Beijing JQ Spring Pictures and Beijing Alibaba Pictures Culture. Li’s credits include Go ahead of the future, river path and Fly with the cranewho have performed at major festivals including Un Certain Regard at Cannes, Generation at the Berlinale, Horizons in Venice and the main competition in Tokyo. Contact: Aleksandra Abykova, m-call

European film market

The Battle of Changjin II Lake

say. Tsui Hark, Chen Kaige, Dante Lam
Following last year’s success The Battle of Changjin Lake – which was released in October during the National Day holiday and raked in $913 million (5.77 billion rmb) to become the highest-grossing film of all time in China – the same trio of directors have reunited for a sequel that’s again set during a harsh 1950s winter. Original stars Wu Jing and Jackson Yee return for the sequel, which sees the American and Chinese armies battling for a strategic bridge. The film opened during the crowded Chinese New Year holiday, grossing $395.2 million in six days. Contact: June Wu, distribution workshop

blue island

Real. Chan Tze Woon
Told in four chapters, this hybrid documentary drama looks back at the moments of resistance that have shaped the current situation in Hong Kong. The past is recreated as fictional events, with today’s activists playing their predecessors. The crowd-funded film competed at Rotterdam’s Bright Future and is produced by Peter Yam, who recently participated in the EFM’s Doc Toolbox program and whose production credits include director Chan’s first documentary yellowing and Lost coursewinner of the best documentary at the Golden Horse Awards 2020. blue island is also produced by Ten years executive producer Andrew Choi, with Japanese film Uzumasa as co-producer.
Contact: Peter Yam, Blue Island Production

Chilli Laugh Story

Real. Coba Cheng
This Chinese New Year offering is a heartwarming family comedy with an ensemble cast consisting of Sandra Ng (who also serves as the film’s producer), Ronald Cheng, Gigi Leung and Edan Lui of popular group Mirror in their film debut. Drawing on personal experience, Cheng’s feature debut follows a young man who, frustrated living at home with his parents during the pandemic, bottles his mother’s homemade chili sauce and turns it into a sensational online business. . Cinema closures in Hong Kong have disrupted the film’s daily release along with Malaysia, Singapore, the UK and Ireland. Contact: Terence Choi, Us Photos

Travel west

Real. Kong Dashan
This feature debut had its international premiere in Rotterdam’s Bright Future online section after winning four awards, including Best Film and Audience at the Chinese Pingyao Festival. Although it shares a title with the classic 16th century novel about the infamous Monkey King, Travel west is an offbeat sci-fi film about a space exploration magazine editor’s relentless pursuit of UFOs as he struggles to keep his publication afloat. It’s produced by Guo Fan’s G!Film Studio, the Beijing-based company behind the sci-fi blockbuster wandering land. Contact: Cao Liuying, Parallax Films

Mom’s business

Real. Kearen Pang
Making their film debut, Keung To and Jer Lau from boy band Mirror join Teresa Mo (Tomorrow is another day) in this comedy about a former talent manager, now a single mother, who discovers a new star. She must overcome the jealousy of her teenage son and find the balance between career and family. Hyphenated Pang adapted his 2005 one-woman show 29+1 in her directorial debut of the same name, which won Best New Director at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 2018. Contact: Miriam Cheung, Films of the Emperor


Real. Chen Guan
Formerly known as Sometimes it’s like going back to childhood, this first feature film was the opening film of Venice Days last year, where it received a special mention. Set in an unnamed Chinese town, the film follows two lonely souls wandering the deserted streets in a time of isolation amid the pandemic lockdown. As the pair explore their surroundings, they also find each other. Writer/director Chen studied directing at EICAR – The International School of Cinema and Television in Paris, and has acting credits, including short films The lobster walkwho competed in Clermont-Ferrand in 2015. Contact: Maria Ruggieri, Asian Shadows

Silver bird and rainbow fish

Real. Lei Lei
Straight out of the Tiger Competition in Rotterdam, this first animated feature documents the Lei family’s struggle for survival in China during the tumultuous 1950s and 1960s. Personal stories are combined with collective memory through the use of many visual layers, including modeling clay, old family photos, official documentary footage, surreal collages and pop-art animation. Formerly known as Ningdu, the American-Dutch co-production will be released in the Benelux by Periscoop in the second half of this year. Asian Shadows also represented Lei’s previous documentary Breathless Animalswho starred in Forum in 2019. Contact: Maria Ruggieri, Asian Shadows

Tales of the Occult 3

say. Lee Chi-Ngai, Peter Lee, Pater Wong
the Tales of the Occult series expands into a third omnibus film, which is currently in production. The Cantonese psychological thriller series is set against the urban backdrop of Hong Kong, and all are produced by John Chong and Matthew Tang for a mix of new and established filmmakers. Parts one and two of the franchise are in post-production. The first features directors Fruit Chan, Fung Chih Chiang and Wesley Hoi and stars Richie Jen, Cherry Ngan and Cecilia So. The second film has Frank Hui, Doris Wong and Daniel Chan at the helm. Contact: Fred Tsui, Asia Media

love again

Real. Gao Linyang
Another film from the EFM lineup that played in the Tiger Competition in Rotterdam and won the Special Jury Prize and the Fipresci Prize, Gao’s debut feature deals with old wounds from the past that later resurface. An aging man wants to rebury his first wife, who died during the Cultural Revolution, with himself and his second wife when they die. love again is the latest film supported by Seventh Art Pictures as part of its initiative to support young filmmakers, following Streetwisepremiered at Un Certain Regard in Cannes last year. The Beijing-based company was founded by the eight hundred director Guan Hu and actor/producer Liang Jing. Gao is a co-writer on walk in the windwhich received the Cannes 2020 label. Contact: Justine O, Seventh Art Photos

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