China’s top propaganda filmmakers have finished shooting the epic “The Founding of a Party” to mark this year’s 90th anniversary of the Communist Party’s foundation and the pic will be released on June 15.
The pic is expected to make major waves at the Chinese box office after the huge success of “Founding of a Republic,” an epic tribute to the 1949 revolution, which was the top performing Chinese movie two years ago, taking in $61 million at the B.O.
It’s also a high-profile blast of nationalism at a time when the Chinese biz is booming, taking in $1.5 billion in B.O. last year.
However, a quota system aimed at restricting foreign movies in the market and keeping a firm grip on matters of ideology makes China a notoriously tough market for Hollywood to crack.
Han Sanping, who is co-helming the movie with Huang Jianxin, said the pic deals with the three phases of the setting up of the Communist Party, which still runs China as a single-party state and has 78 million members.
Pic weighs in at around 140 minutes, has 105 characters, and is even more ambitious than “Republic,” said Han, who is prexy of China Film, the state film company that controls all aspects of the Chinese biz.
“The three phases will be acted by three generations of actors, and each will bring to the audience a different watching experience,” said Han.
Pic features thesp Tang Wei, who, in true Communist fashion, was purged for her erotic role as the lover of a collaborator in Japanese-occupied Shanghai in Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution.” Freshly rehabilitated, she will play Tao Yi, an early girlfriend of Mao Zedong, the first leader of the People’s Republic of China.
The role of the young Chairman Mao Zedong will be taken by heartthrob Liu Ye, and pic is part of the Communist Party’s efforts to present a modern image.
Some of Hong Kong’s top thesps are also involved in the movie, showing their loyalty to the Motherland. Andy Lau stars as the warlord and revolutionary Cai E, and Chow Yun-fat as Yuan Shikai.
China makes dozens of propaganda films every year, most of them failing to make a ripple beyond China’s borders, and met with indifference by the broader audience even within China. “The Founding of a Republic” transformed the Chinese propaganda movie in that it was higher quality than the usual hectoring fare.