China shoots world's 1st feature film in Antarctica

Updated 2018-01-30 14:21:02

A new romantic survival film, shot in vast ice-covered land of Antarctica, will hit Chinese screens this coming weekend.

"Till the End of the World", written and directed by Chinese writer Wu Youyin who was a member of China's 27th and 28th Antarctic expeditions, tells the story of a businessman and a female physicist who get trapped in Antarctica after an air crash and then struggle to survive in extreme conditions with insufficient food, diesel fuel and other essential living supports. In the process, they fall in love.

The setting is similar to Hany Abu-Assad's "The Mountain Between Us" released last year. However, Wu's story appeared much earlier, and his bestselling novel of the same name was published in 2014.

He wrote the book over a period of about seven years while taking part in four expeditions to Antarctica and another to the Arctic seeking life experiences and inspiration. Hong Kong director Stanley Kwan and producer Cao Xin loved the story and decided to help Wu to turn it into a film.

The film stars Taiwan actor Mark Chao and Chinese mainland actress Yang Zishan, whose first collaboration in Zhao Wei's "So Young" in 2013 was a huge success. The two are close friends, so that their friendship and mutual understanding ensured the filming went very smoothly, the two told reporters while attending the premiere held in Beijing on Sunday.

The producers say the film is the "first feature in the world to have been shot in Antarctica", vividly showing the cruel coldness, challenges and dangers to which the cast and crew were exposed while there. Mark Chao suffered snow blindness and even fell into a crevasse in the ice.

However, producer Cao said the director insisted on shooting the film at the South Pole, believing real site shooting would bring more to the audience.

And director Wu added: "We made careful preparations and precise implementations, and we struggled and worked hard together to make this film happen against various difficulties and challenges."

Apart from Antarctica's coldness, actress Yang Zishan explained that some of her scenes were shot mostly in a Beijing studio during hot summer days; however, she had to wear thick clothes to pretend she was in Antarctica.

She recalled that she nearly fainted as the director asked her to repeatedly perform retakes. This situation lasted 42 nights.

However, all their hard work is expected to be fully compensated with rave reviews and potential box office success as audiences and critics applauded "Till the End of the World" after its advance screening Sunday night.

"I never regretted that I participated in this project," Chao said at the premiere, "It's a faraway place and long journey, but I felt blessed to be there, and I have many treasured experiences to remember."

The film also has contributions from other major players in the industry, including cinematography by Lai Yiu-fai, the award-winning Hong Kong cinematographer and film score by the legendary Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi.

"Till the End of the World" is set for release on Feb. 2, 2018.

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