×

Chinese Poet Han Dong Cultivates Dark Humor in ‘One Night on the Wharf’

A keen admirer of Luis Bunuel’s “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie,” Chinese poet Han Dong makes an appearance this week in Busan with “One Night on the Wharf,” his first attempt at directing a movie. Produced by art-house darling Jia Zhangke, the film debuts in the Busan Film Festival’s main New Currents competition.

At heart, “Wharf” is a tale of thugs versus poets, and Han describes it as a black comedy about the ridiculous happenings in a small town. “Chinese films these days are either far too realistic, or have too much fantasy. I wanted to achieve something in the middle,” Han told Variety, though the source material, one of his own short stories, is actually 20 years old. The specifics of the wharf and the period are not his priority. “It is about the Chinese people and their particularities. Their humor has not changed in 20 years.”

In that time Han had, unknowingly, been taking baby steps towards his new career. Trying to keep his writing fresh, Han experimented with screenplays and cultivated a friendship with Jia (“Platform,” “Still Life”) along the way. (Han makes a guest appearance in Jia’s “A Touch of Sin” and Gao Qunshu’s bomb disposal drama “Old Fish.”)

When it came to “Wharf,” Han threw himself all in. “It’s all I’ve been doing for the past two years. I got involved with every aspect of the process including meeting with the investors and the censors,” Han said. “Poetry had allowed me to be very self-centered, but this involved many people and lots of teamwork. I was a long way out of my comfort zone, but it had to be done.”

The film has cleared all necessary regulatory processes in China, but has yet to secure a theatrical deal. Han says releasing specifics and marketing issues are the holdup, rather than censorship approvals.

Han says he is keen to do another film. “But the next will see me more focused on the creative aspects,” he said, adding that a stage play may be his next diversification.

More Film

  • Themba Ntuli and Ashley Lazarus

    Ashley Lazarus, Director of Apartheid-Era Cult Classic, Returns to Screen

    DURBAN–Director Ashley Lazarus, whose film about the interracial friendship between two young boys during the apartheid era became a South African cult classic in the 1970s, is set to return to the big screen with a film that builds on his life-long passion for early-childhood education. “Teacher Wanted” is the inspirational story of a teacher [...]

  • Channing Tatum

    Channing Tatum's Free Association Partners With Atwater Capital for Film Development Fund

    Free Association, a production company led by Channing Tatum, Peter Kiernan and Reid Carolin, has entered into a film development fund with Atwater Capital. The four-year $2 million revolving fund stipulates that Atwater will finance a minimum of five films with Free Association. Michael Parets, VP of production, will oversee the deal. Free Association will [...]

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    Box Office: Tarantino's 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Takes on 'Lion King'

    Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” will have to take on much more than a changing showbiz landscape. This weekend, the washed-up actor and his majordomo are battling Disney’s juggernaut “The Lion King” at the domestic box office. Tarantino’s R-rated auteur [...]

  • Margot Robbie Once Upon a Time

    Margot Robbie Says 'Barbie' Movie Will Put 'Positivity' Into the World

    Over the last 10 years, Margot Robbie has stepped into the skates of Tonya Harding, taken up the mantle of Harley Quinn and, next up, she’s playing the world’s most famous doll, Barbie. The live-action film is due out in 2020 and set to be written by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, while Robbie serves [...]

  • 2018 NALIP Gala

    National Association of Latino Independent Producers Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary

    Ben Lopez has seen the future of the entertainment industry, and says it is the Latinx community. “In the next 20 years, we’re going to be prioritized — because not only will we have the numbers demographic-wise, we’ll have the spending power,” says Lopez, the executive director of the National Assn. of Latino Independent Producers, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content