Director Zhang Wei set for Groundbreaking Chinese Transgender Drama ‘The Rib’

Chinese director Zhang Wei, known for his candid depictions of the marginalized in his country, will shoot “The Rib,” about a young transgender contending with Chinese society and his devoutly Christian family. The bold drama is likely to become a groundbreaking production for China.

Zhang said in a statement that he was grateful to have obtained permission to shoot the film, which will allow him to “tackle subjects that might have been taboo only a few years ago.” He also added he is “determined to tell this important story despite any roadblocks I might face.”

Billed as being drawn from real life, “The Rib” will depict a transgender Chinese teen born into a Christian family, whose mother becomes deeply destabilized when she discovers that he wants to transition from male to female. In the ensuing conflict they overcome their differences and together face the rife prejudice against the local underground LGBT community.

“The Rib” is in pre-production with principal photography planned to start in early 2017. Zhang will produce via his Shenzhen-based production company, Huahao Film & Media.

Earlier this month The New York Times reported that a labor arbitration panel in the southern province of Guizhou held a hearing in what is being described as China’s first transgender job discrimination case brought my a man born as a woman who said his former employer fired him for wearing men’s clothes.

Zhang’s previous films include “Factory Boss,” about an entrepreneur who desperately takes on low margin jobs to keep his business afloat,  and “Destiny” (“Xi He”) the tale of an autistic boy’s struggle to get an education. “Destiny” will world premiere tomorrow (Saturday, April 30) at the Far East Festival in Udine, Italy.

“Boss” won the best actor prize for actor Yao Anlian at the 2014 Montreal World Film Festival.

Hong Kong- and Amsterdam-based Fortissimo Films is handling worldwide sales on “Factory Boss” and “Destiny,” as part of a multi-year, multi-picture deal signed earlier this year with Zhang. They may board “Rib” further down the road.

Also in Zhang’s pipeline is upcoming big-budget “Sound of a Dream,” the story of four visually impaired children from Tibet whose dream is to appear on a TV talent show.


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