‘Still Life’ helmer turns to ‘Tattoo’

'Age' next pic for Jia

BEIJING — Fresh from his surprise triumph at Venice with “Still Life,” Chinese helmer Jia Zhangke’s nex pic will focus on youth gangs in the city of Suzhou at the tail end of the Cultural Revolution.

“The Age of Tattoo” (Ciqing Shidai) will be a drama focusing on a group of street kids in 1975, in the chaotic final years of Chairman Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution (1966-76).

The Golden Lion winner said the movie could even include fight scenes, a departure for the arthouse favourite.

Jia is best known for “Xiao Wu,” “Platform” and “Unknown Pleasures,” none of which secured a domestic release.

As an independent director, most of the 35-year-old Jia’s pics are not shown in China, as they are made without official permission. His previous film, “The World,” an ensemble piece about workers at a Wonders of the World-style theme park outside Beijing, was given general release.

“Still Life,” about the controversial Three Gorges Dam project, was a surprise late entry and an even more surprising Golden Lion winner.

“I want to focus on the small alleys of daily life that show the pain people suffered … and how they were engulfed by the times,” he told the Beijing News.

Jia said he was still ironing out details of the script, which is based on a novel of the same name by Su Tong, who wrote “Jasmine Women” and “Raise the Red Lantern.”

Pic reportedly will involve Hollywood coin. Female lead will be Jia’s longtime collaborator Zhao Tao; helmer plans to cast the male lead, a teenager, from a kung fu school. Jia favors Taiwanese thesp/warbler Jay Chou, featured in Zhang Yimou’s “Curse of the Golden Flower,” for the part of the older brother.

Shooting is skedded to begin in November.

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