Hailed as one of Asia’s brightest young directors, Chen competed in the shorts competition at Cannes in 2007 with “Grandma” and won the Camera d’Or with his debut feature “Ilo Ilo” in 2013. His sophomore feature “Wet Season” premiered in competition at the Toronto International Film Festival. Both films were selected as Singapore’s official submissions to the Oscars.
Headlining the star-studded Chinese cast of “The Breaking Ice” are Zhou Dongyu (“Better Days”), Liu Haoran (the Detective Chinatown franchise) and Qu Chuxiao (“The Wandering Earth”). Zhou and Liu previously collaborated on “Fire on the Plain” which competed at San Sebastian in 2021.
Written and directed by Chen, the film follows the blossoming relationship among three young adults in their twenties, set over a short few days in the winter snow.
The film is produced by Meng Xie and Chen under new banner Canopy Pictures, which finances along with China’s Huace Pictures.
“The Breaking Ice” was shot in Yanji, a border city in the north of China, marking the first Chinese production for Chen.
“It was a very memorable experience especially for someone who has grown up in tropical Singapore adjusting to minus 20 weather,” Chen told Variety. “I shot rain in ‘Wet Season,’ snow and ice in ‘The Breaking Ice,’ next I would love to work with lots of sunshine. I was blessed with an amazing cast and crew who gave so much to the film. By the time I was out of quarantine, we only had three weeks to prep an entire feature. But we pulled it off with everyone’s dedication. It was a leap of faith for all of us.”
This is Chen’s second time working with Zhou. He directed her for his segment of the pandemic anthology “The Year of the Everlasting Storm,” produced by Neon, which premiered at Cannes last year.
Huace Pictures handles Mainland Chinese distribution on “The Breaking Ice” while sales agent Rediance will handle worldwide sales.
Chen is represented by UTA in the U.S. and Casarotto Ramsay & Associates in the U.K. Next up for him is his first English-language feature, which is expected to start shooting later this year.
The production has unveiled its first poster announcing its main cast and director: