With production in China suffering a coronavirus-imposed slowdown, “The Italian Recipe” is one co-production between Europe and China that is poised to potentially capitalize on the resulting dearth of Chinese content. It is positioned to advance European cinema’s efforts to make inroads in China.
“The Italian Recipe,” in which a famous Chinese pop singer travels to Rome for a trashy reality show and cavorts there with a Chinese Cinderella who dreams of becoming a chef, was spawned by the Bridging the Dragon (BTD) association. BTD will hold its annual panel next week on the sidelines of the Berlin Film Festival.
The romantic comedy is mostly set in Rome. The small portions located in Beijing were shot before the virus caused a China-wide production slowdown. Those portions being shot in the Italian capital are set to wrap soon.
Producer Cristiano Bortone, who is also the BTD lab’s founder, told Variety that after developing the script for more than two years in order “to make the story appealing to the Chinese audience,” he has high hopes of achieving “what we have been fighting for for years: a product with a strong European participation that manages to find space within China’s huge commercial mainstream market.”
The film is directed by first-time female director Hou Zuxin. Hou is a USC graduate who made the documentary “My Dad Is a Rocker,” which traveled on the festival circuit and sold to Amazon. She is also a singer and has been a finalist on “The Voice” in China.
The cast comprises Huang Yao, star of “The Crossing,” which screened in Berlin last year, and Liu Xun. She was recently seen in Chinese hit romancer “Almost a Comedy” from distributor MaHua FunAge Pictures, which is also behind “The Italian Recipe.”
FunAge, an iconic comedy film and stage company, is also being recent Chinese blockbusters including “Goodbye Mr. Loser,” “Never Say Die” and “Hello Mr. Billionaire.”
“The Italian Recipe” is the second official co-production between Italy and China. It is produced by Bortone’s Orisa Produzioni, Dauphine Film Company and Rai Cinema on the Italian side with China’s FunAge Pictures and WD Pictures and Lightburst Pictures of Germany.