Friday, June 11, 2010

Beijing’s Straw Family announces slate of pan-Asian productions

Hong Kong filmmaker Jacob Cheung’s Beijing-based company Straw Family announced a slate of four pan-Asian projects on the eve of the Shanghai International Film Festival (June 12-20). (Screen Daily)
The company also named Malaysian-originated producer Lim Young Chien as head of its international department to handle international co-production and sales.

Founded by Cheung in late 2008, the company is financially backed by a Chinese Ningbo City-based entrepreneur. Its first production Rest on your Shoulder, starring Taiwanese Kwei Lun-mei and Chinese Chen Kun is a $10m live-action and CGI animation combination film directed by Cheung and is fully financed by Straw Family. The fantasy adventure has just finished post-production with Hong Kong’s Edko Films handling international sales.
The first project in Straw Family’s 2010 slate is a war epic Batokin to be directed by Jacob Cheung. The story is set in the era of the ancient Mongolian empire. Straw Family will partially invest on the project, which has an estimated budget of $20m. The company is currently in talks with potential partners in Japan and Korea on sales deals as well as recruiting actors and film professionals to the production team. 
Cheung is also planning on a remake of his own 1988 film Lai Shi, China’s Last Eunuch, a bio-pic set in the beginning of 20th Century when the Imperial China came to an end. The new film, budgeted at $8m, is being scripted by Hong Kong veteran actor and director Wu Ma, about a docile young man who naively chose to become a Eunuch of the Ching Dynasty without knowing the dynasty would collapse promptly.  Shooting is scheduled to commence at the end of 2010
The next in the slate is The Love Song Movie Project, a film comprised of three segments to be co-produced by Chinese, Malaysian and Japanese companies. The film, to be produced by Lim Young Chien, is designed to be three love stories about the lives of three Chinese protagonists (mainland Chinese and overseas Chinese in Malaysia). Each of them finds their lives unwittingly changed because of three Chinese pop songs covered from Japanese pop songs in each story. The China segment will be directed by Xie Dong (One Summer With You) and the Malaysia segment will be directed by Malaysian Tan Chui Mui, while the Japanese director is to be announced. The $2m project is also planned to start shooting by the end of 2010.
The company is also developing a script adapted from Taiwanese author Lee Chia-tung’s short novel The Wadded Jacket, which tells about a veteran soldier’s journey of self-redemption from a haunting memory during the Chinese civil war in 1949. Production is scheduled to start in early 2011.
Lim has previously involved in many pan-Asian co-produced films, such as About Love (Japan-China-Taiwan), Black Night (Japan-Thailand-Hong Kong), andThe Longest Night in Shanghai (Japan-China). Heading Straw Family’s international department, Lim will be overseeing investment and development of film projects that are suitable for international co-productions. He will also take charge of international sales for the above four projects, as well as acquiring Asian titles for international sales.

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