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Fox’s Hong Kong king

Searchlight, Wong to develop at least 3 English-lingo pix

Fox Searchlight Pictures has entered into a partnership with Hong Kong movie scribe, helmer and producer Wong Kar-wai.

Under the terms of the pact, Searchlight and Wong’s Block 2 Films will develop a minimum of three English-lingo films that Searchlight and Block 2 will co-finance and co-distribute. Pics will be produced by Wong and Block 2, with Wong selecting the directors and supervising the screenwriters on each project. Claudia Lewis, exec VP of production at Searchlight, will oversee the projects.

Fox Searchlight prexy Peter Rice praised the helmer’s “gift for creating films that transcend cultural boundaries.”

Despite a considerable body of Chinese-lingo feature work — his 2000 feature “In the Mood for Love” was distribbed Stateside by USA Films — the Shanghai-born helmer is probably best known in the States for a short film, “The Follow,” part of the BMW Films series “The Hire” that starred Clive Owen as a mysterious chauffeur. Anonymous Content produced “The Follow” and four other BMW shorts in 2001, raising the helmer’s profile in town considerably.

Now, two years later, Anonymous is trying to do the same: Wong’s manager at Anonymous, Paul Schwartzman, engineered the co-financing and distribbing pact for Wong at Searchlight.

Explaining his attraction to Searchlight, Wong called the specialty arm “an admirable and positive force in the global film industry” because Rice and his team “are not afraid to push the envelope.”

Wong’s first feature film, “As Tears Go By,” screened at Cannes in 1989, and he’s been a staple on the fest circuit ever since: His Maggie Cheung-Tony Leung starrer “Ashes of Time,” a period martial arts drama, had its world premiere at Venice in 1994, and “Fallen Angels” premiered at the 1995 Toronto Film Festival. The Wong-directed “Happy Together,” about two Chinese homosexuals exiled in Argentina during the handover of Hong Kong to China, had its 1997 world premiere at Cannes, where Wong won the director prize.

Currently, Wong is in post-production on “2046” and “Eros,” a three-part film project directed by Wong, Steven Soderbergh and Michelangelo Antonioni that will premiere in 2004 but is not part of the Searchlight pact.

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