Chinese and Canadian companies are to co-produce “Phoenix,” a biopic of Norman Bethune, a Canadian who served with the Communist Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War and brought modern medicine to rural China.
The project will be introduced at Hong Kong’s FilMart this week, next month in China when the producers accompany Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly’s 2018 Creative Industries Trade Mission. No director has been set.
Ray Production, headed by Wang Yu (aka Ray Wang), will finance the picture. It previously made Berlin competition film “Crosscurrent” and co-produced Jia Zhangke’s “Still Life.” Vancouver-based Rare Earth has co-produced multiple series with CCTV and GDTV China including the WWI docu-drama “Tricks on the Dead.”
Bethune first came to international prominence for his service as a front-line surgeon supporting the democratically elected Republican government during the Spanish Civil War. A physician, medical innovator, and noted Communist, Bethune was eulogized by Chinese leader Mao Zedong.
“I was deeply affected by Rod and Sharon Stewart’s book and its perspective on his life and work. This is a profoundly important story for both China and Canada. Approaching the 80th anniversary of his death, Bethune’s life should not be forgotten or dismissed,” said Jordan Paterson of Rare Earth in a statement.