New Directors Workshop will recruit newcomers to remake select Shaw Brothers classics.

Hong Kong-based production and distribution company Celestial Pictures is partnering with China’s Beijing Film Academy and Youth Film Studio to work with new Chinese filmmakers. The new initiative, New Directors Workshop, will kick off with a screenplay competition to remake selected Shaw Brothers classics.

The competition, which will start receiving submissions in March, is open to the 2011 graduating class as well as past graduates of BFA’s directors programme.  Entrants are asked to submit a treatment based on any one of 10 selected films from Celestial’s Shaw Brothers Film Library. Top five contestants will be awarded with $3,000 (RMB 20,000) to write a full-length feature film screenplay. The five completed screenplays will then be reviewed by the judging panel with the aim of producing the top three screenplays.

Among the selected titles are 1970 martial arts classic Brothers Five [pictured]; Behind the Yellow Line, a 1984 romantic drama starring Maggie Cheung, Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui; gangland action drama The Bloody Escape starring Chen Kuan-tai; and Johnny To’s detective film Loving You.

Celestial has also recruited actress/filmmaker Silvia Chang (Run Papa Run, 20/30/40, Tempting Heart) to be a panelist of the competition. In addition to judging the scripts, Chang will also mentor one of the winners and help produce his or her script into a Celestial Shaw Brothers remake.

The panel of five judges will also include two executives from Celestial Pictures and one each from BFA and YFS.

The five shortlisted story treatments will be announced in June 2011, while the winning projects will be announced in November 2011.

Celestial’s New Directors Workshop shows the company becoming more proactive in producing content for the Chinese-speaking world. “Celestial Pictures is a film content company. And with the growing box office revenue, China is certainly an important place for us,” said Celestial CEO Ross Pollack.

The company’s first feature production My Kingdom, produced by Angre Morgan, starring Wu Chun and Barbie Hsu, is currently in production in Shanghai. 

According to Pollack, the company aims to produce three to five films a year.  Celestial has also opened its Taiwan and Beijing branches to develop film and TV drama projects. In addition to the 10 films offered for the screenplay competition, Celestial is also looking to remake classic Shaw Brothers titles such as One-Armed Swordsman (1967), Come Drink With Me (1966) and Flying Guillotine (1975).

Established in 2001, Celestial Pictures is a subsidiary of Malaysian Astro All Asia Networks plc. It owns the 760-title Shaw Brothers library and operates four TV channels.