Korean-Chinese director Zhang Lu has finished shooting “Yanagawa,” his first Chinese film in over a decade, which he filmed in Japan. The project is backed by China’s Huanxi Media and Midnight Blur Films, with both firms holding global rights.
The new title is now heading into post-production, though the coronavirus epidemic in China has complicated work flows. It is the first film to come out of the production arm of Midnight Blur Films.
The movie tells the story of two very different brothers who take a trip to Yanagawa, Japan, to find the woman they both loved in their youth. It stars Chinese actress Ni Ni, who appeared alongside Christian Bale in Zhang Yimou’s 2011 historical war drama “The Flowers of War,” as well as actors Zhang Luyi (“The Devotion of Suspect X”) and Xin Baiqing (Chen Kaige’s “Legend of the Demon Cat”) as the two brothers. The film also features Japanese talents Sosuke Ikematsu (“Shoplifters,” last year’s Venice title “Killing”) and Ryoko Nakano, familiar to Chinese audiences because her 1976 film “Manhunt” made a particular splash in China as one of the first foreign films to be imported after the Cultural Revolution.
The ethnically Korean novelist-turned-filmmaker Zhang Lu was born in northern China, but has traversed boundaries between East Asian countries for years. His feature films that have gone to international film festivals include 2007’s “Desert Dream,” 2010’s “Dooman River” and last year’s “Fukuoka” at Berlin; 2001’s “Grain in Ear” at Cannes; and “Gyeongju” at Locarno.