Filmmaker Lu Chuan, perhaps the most prominent Chinese commercial filmmaker visiting Cannes this year, will touch down on the Côte d’Azur Saturday to shop three new projects — one finished documentary, one nearly complete sci-fi thriller in need of a global distributor, and an all-new drama feature seeking a U.S. co-production partner.
Lu is best known to the industry for his acclaimed early features Kekexili: Mountain Patrol (2004) and City of Life and Death (2009), as well as adventure blockbuster Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe (2015) and the big-budget documentary he made for Disney and China Film Group, Born in China (2016).
He’ll arrive in Cannes with an early cut of Beijing 2020, the official documentary of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games that he directed with Chinese industry titan Zhang Yimou as executive producer. For the film, Lu was given unprecedented access to Beijing officials as they deliberated how to hold the Games amid China’s extremely strict COVID pandemic prevention protocols. He also shot athletes from across the globe both before and during these unique COVID Olympics.
“I believe this film is a moving story about the world coming together to celebrate sport and our common ties,” Lu says. “It was extremely difficult to make during the pandemic, but I approached it as an important historical document that can help bring the world together.” Fortissimo Films is selling the doc, which was produced by the state-backed Culture Investment Holdings and Lu’s company Chuan Films. The partners will host a market screening on Sunday.
Lu also will be showing an early cut in Cannes of his long-gestating big-budget sci-fi thriller Bureau 749, which tells the story of a young man who is drawn into a mysterious, crime-fighting bureau just as a disaster is triggered by unknown creatures spreading across the globe. The film’s A-list cast includes Wang Junkai (The Great Wall) Miao Miao (Youth), Xin Baiqing (The Shadowless Tower), and Zhou Yiwei (Dying to Survive). The film is backed by China industry heavyweights Tencent, Huayi Brothers Media and China Film Group, and Lu has nearly completed shooting it. But he says he hopes to bring in a U.S. studio partner to collaborate on the project and help him finish it in a way that will make it more accessible to global markets.
The director is also seeking a U.S. coproduction partner for his next directorial effort, You Are My Daughter, a big-screen telling of the real-life, cross-border custody battle for Anna Mae He, a Chinese girl whose biological parents, Jack and Casey He, and her white foster parents, Jerry and Louise Baker, fought in international court over her custody for seven tumultuous years. The case received widespread media attention in the U.S. and China and became extremely bitter at points, yet the two mothers ultimately became friends and the girl later developed a close relationship with both parties. Lu says he aspires for his biopic to “challenge the assumptions of both the Chinese and U.S. audience, by telling a story that shows how we can work through differences and find common understanding — even love.”