‘Outcast’ gets a second chance in China
On Sept. 26, the period action film Outcast, a France/U.S.A./China co-production, was withdrawn by Chinese studio Yunnan Film Group, its principal local investor, without any immediate explanation and just two hours before its scheduled midnight previews in Beijing. The studio later claimed the decision to pull the film had been made “by foreign investors and distributors.” However, it shortly afterwards issued yet another statement, saying the film had to be cancelled to “protect it against movie piracy,” further adding to the mystery surrounding the sudden withdrawal. Outcast, produced with a multi-million-dollar budget and a largely English soundtrack, would have been one of the biggest releases this year in China, as it reportedly had secured some 25% of all of the country’s cinema screens.
While both audiences and critics were wondering whether Outcast would actually ever appear on Chinese screens, it now seems that the film is going to get a second chance after all. According to news website china.org.cn, Outcast is slated for a re-release in China sometime in January 2015, shortly before it hits North America in February. However, no exact date has so far been announced. It is also not clear whether there will be any changes to the movie compared to its withdrawn original version.
Outcast stars Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen as Christian Crusaders who head east into China after fleeing a Middle Eastern battlefield. They team up with the son and daughter of a deposed emperor, played by American-born martial-arts expert Andy On and Chinese actress Yifei Liu, to defeat the siblings’ evil uncle and usurper of the throne.
Korean Movie Casts 20 Actors for Single Role
Unprecedented in global cinema, 20 of South Korea’s best-known actors and actresses have been cast to play one single movie character. Scheduled to begin shooting sometime in November and directed by Baek Jong-yul, the highly unusual plot of melodrama Beauty Inside (working title) tells the story of a man, Woo-jin, who wakes up as a different person every morning. Not only that, but each time he also finds himself to be of different age, nationality and even gender. Naturally, this predicament causes him more than a few headaches in handling his daily life. Luckily, he meets Isu, played by actress Han Hyo-joo, who falls in love with Woo-jin despite his daily transformations. Knowing about the many secrets harbored by Woo-jin’s various personae, she tries to smooth out things for him as best as she can.
When studio Yong Film announced the unique film project while it was still in its pre-production stage, it made front-page headlines across Korean-language media both at home and abroad. Apart from the bizarre plot, particular excitement was caused by the star-studded male and female cast playing the lead character, most of whom arguably are unknown outside the Korean community.
In random order, the role of Woo-jin is played by Lee Beom-su, Park Seo-jun, Kim Sang-ho, Chun Woo-hee, Lee Jae-joon, Hong Da-mi, Kim Dae-myung, Do Ji-han, Jeon Young-woon, Park Shin-hye, Cho Dal-whan, Lee Jin-wook, Seo Kang-joon, Kim Hee-won, Lee Dong-wook, Ko A-sung, Yoo Yeon-seok, Lee Seung-chan, Kim Ju-hyeok, as well as veteran actress Moon Sook, who was a household name in 1970s Korean cinema and returns to the silver screen after a hiatus of 37 years.
Luang Prabang Film Fest Set for Dec. 6-10
The latest installment of the annual Luang Prabang Film Festival (LPFF) in the former royal capital of Laos will take place Dec. 6-10. As in previous years, the ancient town–a designated UNESCO World Heritage site on the banks of the serene Mekong River–will transform into a movie theatre as public places, an open-air market and several hotels are fitted with large screens and seating arrangements.
The main outdoor screening venue, Luang Prabang's UNESCO-renovated Handicrafts Market, will once again be decked out with the blue chairs that have become something of a festival trademark. Although they only provide seating for 800, the screenings often attract an audience of more than a thousand people, many of whom settle down on makeshift stools or even blankets laid out on the floor, not at all an unpleasant proposition during the balmy and dry weather prevailing during that time of the year in one of Southeast Asia’s loveliest cities. Now in its fifth year, the LPFF will as usual put a focus on productions–both short films and full-length features–from Southeast Asia, many of which have never been released in the West.
This year’s festival program comprises cinematic treats such as Indonesian documentary Aroma of Heaven (2014), directed by Azzharr Rudin and Imri Nasution; award-winning Singaporean drama Ilo Ilo (2013), directed by Anthony Chen; Madam Phung’s Last Journey (2014) from Vietnam, a documentary about a traveling transvestite troupe, directed by Tham Nguyen Thi; top-grossing horror comedy Phee Mak Phrakanong (2013) from Thailand, directed by Banjong Phisanthanakun; romantic drama Shift (2013) from the Philippines, directed by Siege Ledesma; and director Rithy Phan’s highly acclaimed documentary The Missing Picture (2013), Cambodia’s official submission to the 2014 Annual Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
Of course, the fest will also showcase some scarce Laotian productions such as the hilarious horror comedy Really Love (2014), directed by Phoumsana Sirivongsa, and touching romantic drama Vientiane in Love (2014), co-directed by Vannaphone Sitthirath, Anysay Keola, Xaisongkham Induangchanthy and Phanumad Disattha.