Anthony Chen Lines Up First U.S.-Set Project; Film Set Against New York AIDS Epidemic Joins Giraffe Pictures’ Growing International Slate

EXCLUSIVE: Drift director Anthony Chen is gearing up to direct his first US-set project, Heartbeat: A New York Story, about the rarely-told experiences of the Asian gay community during the AIDS epidemic in 1980s New York.

The English-language feature is based on a short story Tea For Two, by acclaimed Taiwanese writer Pai Hsien-yung, and is described as “an emotional and affecting story of self-discovery, grief and hope through the eyes of a Taiwanese gay man.” Singaporean playwright Joel Tan has adapted the short story for the screen.

Related Story

Sundance Review: Cynthia Erivo & Alia Shawkat In Anthony Chen's 'Drift'

Singapore-born Chen recently made his English-language debut on Drift, produced by Emilie Georges, Peter Spears and Naima Abed, which filmed in Greece and the UK and received its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival. Heartbeat: A New York Story, which he hopes to start shooting next year, will be his first project filmed in the U.S. 

Chen’s Giraffe Pictures will produce the film with Chinese producer Lou Ying’s Paradigm Shift Entertainment.  

The film is part of a rapidly expanding slate of international projects in various stages of production at Giraffe Pictures, the Singapore-based outfit founded by Chen, which is also headed by producers Huang Wenhong and Teoh Yi Peng.  

The company will soon announce its first Korean project, a co-production with Korea’s Barunson, which Chen will also direct, as well as co-produce its first Japanese feature, Earthquake, which marks the feature debut of Japanese filmmaker Neo Sora. Chen is also currently scripting and plans to direct an as-yet-untitled family drama set in present-day Hong Kong. 

Set to start shooting this summer, Earthquake revolves around a group of high school students in near future Tokyo, a city “troubled by looming xenophobia and political repression”. Chen is producing with Aiko Masubuchi, Albert Tholen and Eric Nyari.

Giraffe Pictures was also a producer on Drift, along with Paradise City, Heretic and FortyNineSixtyFilms, and is also in active development on several as-yet-unannounced high-end TV series, some of which are set up at global streaming services. 

The company, which recently produced He Shuming’s Singapore-Korean collaboration Ajoomma, also has four Southeast Asian features going into production this year – including the third part of Chen’s ‘Growing Up’ trilogy, We Are All Strangers. Scheduled to start shooting this summer, the project reunites the director with actors Yeo Yann Yann and Koh Jia Ler, who appeared in the first two films in the trilogy, Ilo Ilo and Wet Season

Also set to shoot this year are two co-productions in Indonesia – Mouly Surya’s post-WWII drama This City Is A Battlefield and Tumpal Tampubolon’s Crocodile Tears, a thriller set on a crocodile farm where a mother’s jealousy spirals out of control when her son falls in love for the first time. Giraffe Pictures is also co-producing Filipino filmmaker Petersen Vargas’ third feature Some Nights I Feel Like Walking with the Philippines’ Daluyong Studios and other partners.  

At this week’s Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF), Giraffe Pictures is pitching its first foray into animation, Singapore animator Tan Wei Keong’s Skin Coat, about a man forcing his male lover to wear a woman’s skin in order to enter his village. (Separately from Giraffe Pictures, Lou Ying, Chen’s co-producer on Heartbeat: A New York Story, is presenting a project in HAF’s Work-In-Progress section – Lin Jianjie’s Brief History Of A Family, which was also presented at Qumra in Doha last week.)

Other projects in development at Giraffe Pictures include Feast, a vampire drama thriller set in India, from debut Singapore filmmaker Leon Cheo.

Chen says the Singapore-based company didn’t set out to expand internationally, or target particular territories, but the move has been inevitable given the talent the company wanted to work with and the limits of the relatively small Singapore market. 

“Our regional and international growth has been an organic one, led by stories and talent we discover,” says Chen. “These projects also reflect the global ambitions of Giraffe Pictures. We have recently expanded our team as our slate grows and will continue to do that in the next year or two.” 

In nearly all cases, these projects have the goal of telling Asian stories for a regional or global audience. That strategy can be seen most recently in Ajoomma, a comedy drama about a Singaporean K-pop fan on a life-changing trip to Korea, which premiered at Busan film festival and has so far played widely across Asian theatrical markets.

Must Read Stories

How To Watch Online & On TV; Lady Gaga In, Tom Cruise Out; Politics; Deakins; More

Oscar Red Carpet & Gala Ceremony Photos (Updating Live)

‘Scream VI’ Getting Loud As Sequel Cuts Path To Franchise-Record $44M+ Opening

Pelosi Panel; ‘Bottoms’, Flamin’ Hot’, ‘Dungeons And Dragons’ Reviews; Studio; More

Read More About:

Source: Read Full Article