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Berlin: Feng Xiaogang Dials up ‘Cell Phone 2’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Leading Chinese filmmaker Feng Xiaogang has set “Cell Phone 2” as his next movie to direct.

The film is a follow-up to his 2003 hit “Cell Phone,” which was a wry social comedy in which the extramarital affair of a media executive is exposed by his careless use of modern technology.

Having previously considered going to a Hollywood scripter for the new project, Feng has instead set Liu Zhenyun as the writer. A workable draft is set to be delivered by the end of the month.

A regular Feng collaborator, Liu was the screenwriter on the original “Cell Phone” and was most recently writer of “I am not Madame Bovary.” He was wrote the book that was turned into Feng’s famine drama “Back to 1942,” and was supervising producer on “World Without Thieves.”

The original “Cell Phone” was released shortly after the deregulation of the film industry in China, when affluence was rising sharply, and when Chinese society began to take on many of the outward trappings of Westernization. Revisiting the topic in the age of the smartphone gives Feng and Liu plenty of opportunity for black humor and the skewering of inflated egos.

“Cell phones are big trouble,” Feng told Variety.

Huayi Brothers Pictures has backed more than 10 movies by Feng, and “Cell Phone 2” is expected to find its home there. “I’ll make any film at Huayi that they are prepared to finance me on,” Feng said.

Having recently enjoyed smash-hit status with his December release “Youth,” Feng aims to shoot “Cell Phone 2” in this year while waiting for the year-long set construction on Hainan Island for his subsequent, untitled film.

Huayi Brothers and leisure property developer Mission Hills jointly own Feng Xiaogang Movie Town on Hainan Island. Built around several of Feng’s earlier films, the theme park is rated as one of China’s top 10 tourist attractions.

Feng said that he is still awaiting another draft of the screenplay for an English-language remake of “A World Without Thieves” that he and U.K. producer Duncan Kenworthy have been developing. “Where I see the psychological aspects of the characters, the script at the moment more resembles an action movie,” Feng said.

Between projects, Feng is currently relaxing on the sidelines of the Berlin Film Festival, with little formal agenda other than his support for the Asian Brilliant Stars awards on Wednesday. Feng has become a champion of young filmmakers in China and last year became involved with a youth development program run by China’s Film Directors Guild.

In recent years, Feng has renewed his occasional role as an actor. He was the award-winning star of Beijing gangland drama “Mr. Six” in 2015. He also has an upcoming role in “Ash Is Purest White,” the martial arts film that is expected to be the most commercial film ever made by arthouse darling Jia Zhangke. “My involvement in acting all comes down to a good script and director,” Feng said.

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