British firm to release China-backed movie

Updated 2017-05-19 14:31:23 China Daily
Mitchell Norman, the star of Giantland, poses for a publicity photo ahead of the release of the China backed movie. CHINA DAILY

Mitchell Norman, the star of Giantland, poses for a publicity photo ahead of the release of the China backed movie. CHINA DAILY

British film company BB88 has released stills and information about its latest venture Giantland, the first of three independent films it is making with the backing of Chinese film and TV financier Zhongze Culture Investment.

The film is almost finished, according to BB88 producer Craig Conway, who travels to Cannes Film Festival this week to hold meetings with distributors and other industry players.

Giantland tells the story of a young boy, played by Mitchell Norman, who does not know his father, plays truant from school and spends time in an industrial estate and nearby forest. There, he befriends a refugee (Goran Bogdan) who is injured and seeking shelter in an abandoned shipping container. The original script was nominated for a writer's award at the Tribeca Film Festival.

"Giantland is set to a pre-Brexit backdrop. The world is changing quickly around this child and his mum. It picks up on the fear that surrounds illegal immigration," said Conway. "When first I read the script I found it incredibly moving. And we have had some amazing acting talent to do it justice."

The majority of the film's 500,000 pound (5,000) budget was put up by Zhongze Culture Investment, and the collaboration is linked to the China UK Film Fund, an initiative announced during President Xi Jinping's state visit to the United Kingdom in October 2015.

The 50 million pound fund was created by Beijing Zhongze Culture Industry Co, Zhongze Asset Management and the UK's Varcale Capital Management, with the endorsement of the British and Chinese governments. The initiative aims to wed British filmmaking expertise with China's rapidly expanding movie market.

Chai Sen, chairman of Beijing Zhongze Culture Industry. and executive director of Propeller Culture and Media (Beijing), said: "The fund will undoubtedly bring together the very best of industry knowledge, talent, technology, experiences and business opportunities from the UK and China."

The fund has formed strategic partnerships with three other British companies, including talent agency Independent Talent Group, media technology company Distrify Media and production company Youniverse.

Conway said: "The first film we did is very much a British film, because they wanted to invest in an independent UK project, and then we can start building relationships with filmmakers in the Chinese market."

BB88 has two more productions in the pipeline, a safari thriller set in South Africa called The Kruger and a snooker flick named Break, both of which Zhongze Culture Investment has the option to be involved in.

Pitched as "Rocky with a snooker cue," Break is partly set in Beijing and BB88 is in discussions over a co-starring role for Hong Kong-born actor Orion Lee, who featured in the James Bond film Skyfall.

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