Helmer tackles Japanese bestseller

Fifteen years after winning the Golden Lion with “Cyclo,” Vietnam-born helmer Tran Anh Hung is back on the Lido with “Norwegian Wood,” his first literary adaptation.

Based on Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s bestseller, Tran said “Wood” came naturally to him though “working in the (Japanese) language was difficult since I don’t speak it,” he said. “The book was so well-known in Japan that everyone wanted to make the movie.”

Production companies Asmic Ace Entertainment and Fuji Television Network entrusted him with the task, having secured book rights and rights to the Beatles song that inspired Murakami’s tome. “They haven’t even told me how much they paid for those,” Tran said.

“Wood,” which will segue to Toronto, has already sold to 15 territories, including Pandora for Germany, Vertigo for Spain, Lumiere for Benelux and HBO for Latin America via Fortissimo.

As for how he feels about being back in Venice, Tran said, “When I won the Golden Lion it was the 100th anniversary of the Biennale and the Lion was different that year so my kids are saying it’s a fake one.

“So it’s nice to be back, maybe to get the real one!”

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