×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

IFFAM and Variety Celebrate Asian Talent Up Next

The International Film Festival and Awards Macao and Variety combined forces for the second year running to put a spotlight on Asia’s acting talent.

A well-attended meet-the-stars press event on Friday afternoon in Macau was addressed by leading local official, Maria Helena Senna de Fernandes. She turned the microphone over the five actors from different corners of the region, who dazzled with poise and wisdom beyond their years.

In 2017 the talent selection included Celina Jade, Ludi Lin, Rajkummar Rao, Shioli Kutsuna, Piolo Pascual, And Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying, better known as the star of “Bad Genius.”

The five in this year’s crop — Xana Tang (New Zealand), Ann Curtis (The Philippines), Zheng Kai (China), Zaira Wasim (India) and Iqbaal Ramadhan (Indonesia) – will be presented with trophies on stage this evening at the closing ceremony of the IFFAM.

Xana Tang (New Zealand)
Best known in the role of an offbeat office assistant in two seasons of TV series “Filthy Rich,” Xana Tang has worked across film and TV in her native New Zealand since 2012, and latterly in Australia. Of Chinese and Vietnamese origin, she’s faced up to all the usual industry prejudices — where Asians are cast as diligent students or told that there is only a limited audience that wants to see Asians on screen – and says that is simply other people’s reality. Her big career boost is upcoming: she plays Xiu, the sister of Mulan, in Disney’s mega-budget live adaptation of the classic Chinese tale, alongside Gong Li, Jet Li and Donnie Yen.

Anne Curtis (Philippines)
Anne Curtis is considered a superstar in The Philippines, with all the press attention and social media obsession that comes with it. The clamor will only grow if she successfully crosses over to a bigger international career. With Filipino and Australian roots, and an Aussie upbringing, Curtis began a singing and acting career in The Philippines from age 12. Her big local break came in the 2005 TV series “Kampanerang Kuba,” a fairy tale that drew from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” story. Recent work has included blockbuster romance drama “Sid & Aya (Not A Love Story), and elevated horror film “Aurora” under acclaimed Filipino director, Yam Laranas. She recently headlined action movie “BuyBust,” by Erik Matti. The film had a gala at the New York Asian Film Festival, and enjoyed a strong local career before becoming the first Filipino feature acquired by Netflix. Her 32 million followers will be cheering her all the way.

Zheng Kai (China)
Zheng Kai (aka Ryan Zheng) is popular in China having built a repertoire of light TV roles, including reality show “Keep Running.” He also has a string of smaller film credits in comedies (“Ex Files” trilogy, “Let’s Get Married,”) fantasy (“The Golden Monk”) and drama (“Personal Tailor,” “Peace Breaker”). But as a movie star, Zheng is the creation of Zhang Yimou, the leading fifth generation director who has a track record of talent discovery. Zhang gave him a run out with a decent role in “The Great Wall” and latterly made him the joint lead of “Shadow.” Zheng’s turn as a king who is by turns pedantic, towering, cowardly and scheming, was exactly the expansion of his repertoire and revelation that Zhang hoped for. Zheng now has eyes on movie production and the right role in Hollywood.

Iqbaal Ramadhan (Indonesia)
Iqbaal Ramadhan was a child actor in “Rainbow Troops,” (aka “Laskar Pelangi”,) one of the biggest Indonesian films of all time. But for several years he was better known as a musician with the band Coboy Junior, later renamed CJR. The band was so popular that two movies were made about them. Having picked uo acting awards for his roles, Ramadhan is now focused on his acting career and further education (in the U.S. and Australia). This year he stars “Dilan 1990,” a dramatization of a popular novel. Next year he is set to star in “Bumi Manusia,” a film based on political prisoner Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s previously banned novel about society under Dutch colonial rule.

Zaira Wasim (India)
At just 18, Zaira Wasim is the youngest of the 2018 Stars Up Next lineup. But she is a major talent that everyone wants to work with. Her debut role was in the Aamir Khan-starring “Dangal” in which she played the younger version of Indian sportswoman Geeta Phogat. Her second was as the lead of musical underdog story, “Secret Superstar.” Both were story-driven hits in India, both broke records in China. And both earned Wasim major awards. Having bravely fought off depression, Wasim is up next as the motivational speaker star of “The Sky is Pink,” produced by and starring Priyanka Chopra.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Leonardo Dicaprio Once Upon a Time

    Leonardo DiCaprio's Earth Alliance Commits $5 Million to Amazon Fires

    Earth Alliance, an environmental initiative backed by Leonardo DiCaprio, has committed $5 million toward the preservation of the Amazon rain forest following an alarming surge in wildfires. After launching Sunday, the organization’s emergency Amazon Forest Fund is working to support local partners and indigenous communities in their efforts to protect the sensitive habitats within the [...]

  • (from left) Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson)

    Box Office: 'Hobbs & Shaw' Scores $102 Million Debut in China, Nears $600 Million Globally

    Universal’s “Hobbs & Shaw” returned to first place on the international box office charts, thanks to a massive $102 million debut in China. The “Fast & Furious” spinoff, starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, collected another $120 million overseas, boosting its foreign tally to $441 million. “Hobbs & Shaw” is nearing the $600 million mark [...]

  • Angel Has Fallen

    Box Office: 'Angel Has Fallen' Rises to No. 1 With $21 Million Debut

    “Angel Has Fallen,” the third chapter in Lionsgate and Millenium’s action franchise starring Gerard Butler, had a stronger opening weekend than expected, collecting $21.25 million during its first three days of release. Those ticket sales were enough to top domestic box office charts, bumping last weekend’s champ, Universal’s comedy “Good Boys,” to second place. Starring [...]

  • Amanda

    ‘Amanda’ Takes Home Best Int’l Film at 15th Sanfic

    SANTIAGO, Chile    French director Mikhael Hers’ “Amanda” scooped up the Best Int’l Film award Saturday (Aug. 24) at the 15th Santiago Int’l Film Fest (Sanfic), which reported a 20% audience uptick in the past two years and continues to grow its reputation as the most vibrant and prominent film festival in Latin America’s Southern [...]

  • disney d23

    Cruella, Kit Harington and Black Panther's Return: Everything We Learned at D23 Day Two

    Not to be outdone by the avalanche of series orders and casting announcements bolstering the new streaming series Disney Plus, Walt Disney Studios showed off its film wares in a marathon presentation at D23 on Saturday. The Anaheim, Calif. expo brought star power, if perhaps fewer surprises than Friday’s presentation, as fans in princess and [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift'The

    Taylor Swift Downplays Association With Harvey Weinstein

    Taylor Swift’s association with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was among the topics the singer addressed in a revealing new interview with The Guardian. Weinstein held producer credits for the movies “One Chance” and “The Giver,” both of which featured Swift — in the former, a song, and in the latter, a supporting role. She [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content