International sales rights to “Burning,” the new film by leading Korean auteur Lee Chang-dong, have been picked up by Finecut. The picture is an adaptation of “Barn Burning,” a short story by Japan’s Haruki Murakami (“Norwegian Wood”) that first appeared in The New Yorker.
The story involves the encounter of two young men and a woman in their 20s who have been living in their own ways and a mysterious incident that happens among them. One of the men makes an unusual claim to be an arsonist.
Yoo Ah-in (“Veteran”) stars as Jong-soo, a temporary parcel man. “The Walking Dead” and “Okja” star Steven Yeun plays a man who has everything. The woman is played by newcomer Jong-seo.
The film marks a return to directing for Lee after an absence of eight years. Lee, who was Korea’s minister of culture between 2003-04, has a stellar track record as a director of challenging art movies. He won the silver lion at Venice in 2002 for “Oasis” and the screenplay award at Cannes in 2010 for “Poetry,” his most recent film as director. His “Secret Sunshine” earned Jeon Do-yeon the best actress award at Cannes in 2007. Finecut, which is opening sales at the American Film Market, previously handled Lee’s “Peppermint Candy,” “Oasis” and “Poetry.”
“Burning” is now in production through Lee’s Pine House, Now Films and Oh Jung-wan’s Bom Films Production. Distribution in Korea from mid-2018 is set up at CGV-Arthouse.
“It is a story about young people in today’s world. When they think of their lives and this world it must feel like a mystery,” Lee said at the Busan festival last year.
The film had been set to begin in November last year, but was held up by a dispute between Murakami and Japanese broadcaster NHK, which owns the rights to many Murakami works.
Finecut has been doing strong sales business on “A Day,” a time-loop drama that recently screened at the Fantasia and Sitges Intl. Fantastic Film Festival. New sales deals include Kinovista for France; Viz Media for Germany, Austria and Switzerland; Overseas Korean Television Network for Indonesia; P.F.A. Films for Italy; Just Real for Mexico; Mayfly for Poland; and Festival Films for Spain.