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IFFAM: Shekhar Kapur Talks ‘Little Dragon,’ ‘Elizabeth: The Dark Age’

After his second visit to Macau in two years, Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapur will plunge back into work on his Bruce Lee biopic “Little Dragon.”

Kapur, who has credits including “Elizabeth” and “Bandit Queen,” was head of the jury at the first IFFAM. This year he is involved in the Crossfire section and presenting Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Variety spoke with him at the Singapore International Film Festival, where he served as the head of the feature awards jury.

“We are still getting the script (of ‘Little Dragon’) ready. We have done all the prep. We took a hiatus to reconsider the script a little bit,” said Kapur. “It is a very important project. As it turns out it is important not only for the rest of the world, but increasingly important for China since they are now saying that Bruce Lee is a Chinese hero.”

“I wasn’t expecting the project to get that amount of attention,” said Kapur. “It’s about his early life, from birth till he left Hong Kong. Bruce Lee is one of the most significant philosophers of our time. For me what is fascinating is how did the most-known martial artist of the world become a really accepted philosopher. How he brought this whole idea of not fighting in fighting. Him saying ‘when you fight, you are like two lovers, it is the most intimate thing you can do’.”

Kapur is keen to explore the influences in Lee’s life including the tenets of Chinese and Indian philosophy that he practiced. “Hong Kong was an influence because it was in great turmoil in those days,” says Kapur. “It was not possible to walk the streets without aggression. (Martial arts tutor) Ip Man was an influence, but not the Ip Man that is always in the movies – this is the Ip Man that came to Hong Kong in different circumstances. If Bruce Lee wasn’t in Hong Kong during those aggressive days, he may not have become Bruce Lee. What formed Bruce Lee is what my fascination is.”

There isn’t a start date for “Little Dragon” because Kapur hasn’t found yet found an actor to play Bruce Lee. “There are a lot of young men in contention from around the world, but we haven’t quite found Bruce Lee,” says Kapur.

After “Elizabeth” and “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,”, Kapur is working on “Elizabeth: The Dark Age” for Warner Bros. The latest iteration of the script will be completed by January. “It is a futuristic idea that I wrote about Elizabeth in the future, the state of the monarchy, and the state of civilization, based on a dystopian view of what will happen in Europe and what will happen in the U.K. and the western world,” says Kapur. “The recall of the monarchy, which was by then dead and gone. Why was the monarchy recalled and what was happening?”

“It is a futuristic idea of why this 18- or 19-year old girl, who actually is a prostitute, was recalled to the throne,” says Kapur.

Next up for Kapur is “The Matterhorn” a musical theater piece about the conquest of the titular mountain, based on the play by Michael Kunze, and with music composed by Albert Hammond. It opens at Switzerland’s Theatre St. Gallen in early 2018.

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