Palm plants ‘Springtime’ for fall bow

Director Tian blacklisted by Chinese gov't

Palm Pictures has acquired North American rights to mainland Chinese director Tian Zhuangzhuang’s festival award winner “Springtime in a Small Town,” to be released in the fall under the company’s Arthouse Films imprint.

Winner of top honor, the Premio San Marco, in the 2002 Venice Intl. Film Festival’s Upstream competition, “Springtime” marks Tian’s return to filmmaking after a 10-year absence. Following his 1991 feature, “The Blue Kite,” the director was blacklisted by the national industry for opposing the Chinese government’s human rights policies. New film also was screened at last year’s Toronto and New York fests.

Set in post-World War II provincial China, the drama chronicles the impact on a respected family when a stranger with past links to both the husband and wife arrives in town. The story of friendship, honor, trust and desire is a remake of the 1949 classic by director Fei Mu.

“‘Springtime in a Small Town’ is the rare film that establishes itself as an immediate classic in world cinema,” said Palm’s head of acquisitions and production David Koh. “It exemplifies the kind of director-driven work that Palm Pictures and Arthouse Films are dedicated to delivering.”

Koh and Palm’s head of theatrical distribution Ryan Werner acquired the film. Overall deal was negotiated by Mark Ragone, Palm’s head of business affairs, with co-chairmen Michael J. Werner and Wouter Barendrecht and director of international sales Winnie Lau representing Fortissimo Film Sales. Andrew Herwitz of the Film Sales Company also participated in the deal.

Palm recently acquired Claude Chabrol’s drama “Flower of Evil,” and next month will screen Thai directing duo Danny and Oxide Pang’s psychological horror tale “The Eye” as a midnight entry in the 2nd Tribeca Film Festival.

Arthouse Films is Palm’s high-end fine arts/visual arts film label. DVD/video release of “Springtime” will follow the theatrical run early next year. In addition to North America, Palm also acquired Caribbean rights.

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