Chinese director readies earthquake drama
Feng Xiaogang, the helmer behind China’s biggest movie last year, “If You Are the One,” will start lensing his latest project, “Aftershocks,” next month.Pic centers on a woman who survives the 1976 Tangshan earthquake, which killed 300,000 people. Tang Jingting, a spokesperson for the pic’s producer Huayi Brothers, said China Film Group and the municipal government of Tangshan were also investing in the $22 million pic. It’s Feng’s biggest budget pic to date, but he’s earning a reputation as an increasingly bankable helmer in China, since “If You Are the One” took $48 million last year. He is also known for “The Banquet” with Zhang Xiyi, last year’s war epic “Assembly” and the zippy domestic comedy “Cellphone.” The cast for “Aftershocks” has yet to be confirmed, Huayi said, as has the location for post-production. At the launch of a TV talent show late last month, Huayi prexy Wang Zhonglei said the pic was expected to be released in July next year, China Film reported on its website. Some of the lensing will take place in the earthquake zone in Sichuan, which was destroyed in May last year and left almost 87,000 people dead or missing, injured 375,000 and left more than five million homeless. Feng said that he was not shooting an earthquake movie because of what happened in Sichuan, but rather that China Film Group prexy Han Sanping suggested at the start of last year, long before the Sichuan quake, that Feng should do a movie about Tangshan, but Feng, whose real skill is in comedy, was unwilling to approach such a heavy theme. He has chosen to focus on the psychological dimension of dealing with disaster in the movie. The main roles are expected to be announced at the Shanghai Film Festival later this month. Feng’s regular collaborator Ge You will not take part, nor will thesp Faye Wong, but the screenplay is finished and Feng is checking out shooting locations. Feng is a popular figure in the biz. Born in Beijing in 1958, he is the son of a college professor and a factory nurse. Unlike many of China’s top helmers, he did not go to film school but worked his way up through commercial television, working as a scene painter and a scriptwriter before becoming a director.