×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Midi Z on Cannes Title ‘Nina Wu’: ‘I’m Aiming for a New Cinematic Language’

Taiwan-based director Midi Z has become a star of the art-house scene in Asia. The appearance of his film “Nina Wu” in Un Certain Regard in Cannes – already getting strong buzz ahead of its screening Tuesday – is the highest-profile festival berth for the helmer and for lead actress Wu Ke-xi, who recently signed up with CAA.

The film is a departure from Z’s usual register of ultra-low budget, self-penned, Myanmar-set dramas and documentaries. For a start, it’s the ethnic Burmese director’s first film set in Taiwan. It’s also his first with a professional-level budget (of $2 million) and his first from a third-party scriptwriter.

Wu, Z’s lead actress in most of his fiction titles, told him back in 2016 that she was working on a script for him, and then surprised Z by actually delivering. “So many people say they are working on something for me, but then never come through. She simply sent me a full script by email,” said Z, whose real name is Zhao Deyin.

“She was not professionally trained as a writer,” Zhao added. “Instead, she wrote from her heart, from her imagination and without self-control. Had we shot every detail with all the secondary characters and extras, it would have been quite a lot more expensive.”

The film features an actress who is humiliated as she achieves her breakthrough role, and then flees to the countryside to escape bullying that could be real or imagined.

While the film has been touted as part of the #MeToo movement and as a response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Z insists that all the characters are fictional or composites. “It is not about real people who are going to feel uncomfortable. But it is timely. The position of female filmmakers in Asia, Japan and Korea is still so troublesome.”

Z has no trouble explaining why a man should have directed this tale. “If a woman had directed, it would have weighed more heavily to the female point of view,” he said. “The character of the woman from the countryside, working in the big city, is like my own situation as an outsider, a Burmese in Taiwan.”

While promising to revert to the stripped-down style of his previous films “Ice Poison,” “Return to Burma” and “Poor Folk,” which Z calls “direct cinema,” he clearly had fun making a genre movie.

“I’m aiming for a new cinematic language. We actually did shoot with lots of coverage, dollies and cranes. But I cut out a lot of that in the editing room,” Z said. “There is an eight-minute take, but it is not simply visually long. Every frame has drama. I promise this is not just a boring art-house movie.”

More Film

  • Bob Berney

    Bob Berney to Leave Amazon Studios' Head of Marketing and Distribution Position

    Bob Berney, Amazon Studios’ head of marketing and distribution, is stepping down, Variety has confirmed. Berney was hired by Amazon in 2015 and recently reached the end of his four-year contract. His last day will be Friday. During his time at amazon, the film veteran oversaw a number of successful films including “Manchester by the [...]

  • NEW YORK, NY – JUNE, 24:

    LGBTQ Stars Honored at Variety’s Power of Pride Celebration

    New York City felt the full power of pride on Monday, as Variety celebrated its inaugural issue devoted to the annual recognition of LGBTQ people worldwide. At an intimate gathering at lower east side Manhattan hotel The Orchid, rooftop bar Mr. Purple hosted Variety’s cover stars and luminaries for cocktails and the unveiling of the [...]

  • Joel Silver Exits Silver Pictures

    Joel Silver Exits Silver Pictures

    Top Hollywood producer Joel Silver has exited his production company Silver Pictures, Variety has confirmed. “Joel Silver recently indicated that he intends to leave Silver Pictures and go out on his own,” Hal Sadoff, a former ICM Partners agent who joined Silver Pictures several years ago as CEO, said in a statement. “We are working [...]

  • Billy Eichner Power of Pride Variety

    Billy Eichner on Taylor Swift's 'Calm Down' Backlash

    When Taylor Swift released her “You Need to Calm Down” music video, it seemed like every member of the LGBTQ in Hollywood was included — except for Billy Eichner. “I’m still not gay enough for Taylor Swift — or too gay — I don’t know what it is,” Eichner joked at Variety’s Power of Pride [...]

  • Ewen Bremner as Alan McGee in

    Danny Boyle-Produced ‘Creation Stories’ Adds Jason Isaacs, Steven Berkoff

    Jason Isaacs, Steven Berkoff and a host of other new names have signed on for “Creation Stories,” the film being exec-produced by Danny Boyle about Creation Records co-founder Alan McGee. The producers also unveiled the first shots of Ewen Bremner (“Trainspotting”) as the music mogul. Production is underway on the Irvine Welsh-penned project, with “Lock, [...]

  • 'Annabelle Comes Home' Review: This Grab

    Film Review: 'Annabelle Comes Home'

    In a country that should probably think about renaming itself the American Entertainment State, fan culture now produces an obsessive level of pop scholasticism, one that can parse the rules and details of movies and TV shows as if they were fine points of law. In a review of a horror movie, I once called [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content