Wu in epic struggle

Producer gets on the side of history

Independent producer Jimmy Wu is tired of martial arts epics and believes the viewing public is too.

Wu has been actively campaigning against the selection of six historical dramas in a row as China’s entry for the foreign-language category at the Oscars.

He believes his pic “Curiosity Kills the Cat” offers a more realistic image of China than movies set in ancient times and wants the Chinese film authorities to recognize this.

“The Chinese film market needs more diversity at the mid-range level,” he said in an interview.

“People have the wrong image about China and we need to tell people about the other, modern, contemporary urban China, about the changing structure here,” he said.

Wu put “Curiosity” in for selection as China’s film for the Oscars; he didn’t win the spot, but he made his point. He has called for a public hearing in China to alert the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to possible rule violations. These concern the last-minute change of venue from Shenyang to Beijing for the public screenings and the requirement that the print shipped to Los Angeles be substantially the same in form as the version in general release in the submitting country.

“Curiosity,” which stars Hu Jun, Carina Lau and Song Jia, and is helmed by Zhang Yibai, has had a difficult time getting onto the market. During the development process, a lab technician confiscated some of the negatives, believing that the sex scenes went too far.

But after an exhausting process of cuts, the film has been approved.

Wu said China badly needs a ratings system to give clarity over what can and cannot be shown. Plus, he wants the China Film Bureau to give clear lines on censorship.

“The Film Bureau’s four directors have helped us from beginning to end, and without their help, this would just be an underground film,” he said.

“But I have been lobbying for a law that tells us what scenes we can or cannot include.”

Wu is at the Pusan Intl. Film Festival to sell “Curiosity” — Golden Network picked up world sales rights for the pic — and said the response to the movie during the screenings in Chongqing to meet the Oscar requirements was positive, and plans to increase the number of prints in release to 200 from 66.

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