Stephen Israel Baby Steps AMF
Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

Pic is a cross-cultural look at gay family issues

Stephen Israel, who produced Tribeca title “G.B.F.,” has teamed with Taiwanese filmmaker Hsu Li-kong to make “Baby Steps” a cross-cultural drama that thematically picks up from Ang Li’s “The Wedding Banquet.”

The $1.5 million co-venture pairs Israel’s School Pictures with Taiwan production shingle Tang Moon. It will be directed by Taiwanese-American actor Barney Cheng, making his feature helming debut.

Hsu, who produced “Banquet,” “Eat Drink Man Women” and “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,” is set as exec producer. “This is the right film, at the right time,” he said.

Veteran Taiwanese actress Grace Guei plays the role of the mother to a gay couple seeking a surrogate child. American newcomer Michael Adam Hamilton also stars.

Production starts in Taipei on Dec. 22 with the Los Angeles segment set for mid-February.

“Twenty years ago, at the time of ‘Wedding Banquet,’ gay rights was the big issue, well, now we’ve all come out,” said Israel. “Now the issue is about parental rights, it’s about how to keep families together.”

“If anything it is about the mother’s coming out,” Cheng said.

Israel’s gay-themed “G.B.F.,” which premiered at Tribeca, will debut this month through VoD channels and is set for theatrical release in January.

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