Don't Cry, Butterfly

Source: Momo Film Co

‘Don’t Cry, Butterfly’

Screen spotlights 15 Asian titles to tempt festival directors in 2024, including upcoming features from Mouly Surya, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Oh Seung-uk, Ash Mayfair and Chong Keat Aun, as well as a drama written by The Florida Project director Sean Baker.

Bel Ami (Fr-HK)
Dir. Geng Jun
Known for Sundance award-winning Free And Easy and Shanghai’s Golden Goblet best feature film Manchurian Tiger, mainland Chinese director Geng’s latest film is set in a frozen town where the middle-aged inhabitants are searching for identity through love. Shot in black and white, it unravels an absurd drama of identity politics of how individuals on the margins of society save themselves with love. Geng regulars Zhang Zhiyong and Xu Gang lead the cast alongside Chen Xuanyu (Damp Season). Producer is Wang Zijian (Manchurian Tiger), with Wang Weihua (Return To Dust) as director of photography and Hoping Chen (The Breaking Ice) as editor.
Contact: Rediance

Don’t Cry Butterfly (Viet-Sing-Phil-Indo)
Dir. Duong Dieu Linh
The directorial feature debut of Singapore-based Vietnamese filmmaker Duong is a comedy drama that continues to focus on angsty middle-aged Vietnamese women, following a series of shorts that include award-winning A Trip To Heaven and Sweet, Salty. The feature is about a woman who attempts to use voodoo to win back her unfaithful husband, while her 20-year-old daughter prepares to seek a more promising life abroad. Tan Si En from Singapore’s Momo Film leads the international co-production with Vietnam’s Kalei Films and the Philippines’ Fusee alongside Pupa Films, Indonesia’s KawanKawan Media and the UK’s Adeline Arts & Sciences.
Contact: Momo Film

Earthquake (Japan-US)
Dir. Neo Sora
Following concert film Ryuichi Sakamoto | Opus, which premiered at last year’s Venice, Sora makes his debut fiction feature with this story of two teenage friends in near-future Tokyo, who confront the end of their friendship as they navigate diverging paths into adulthood amid the threat of a catastrophic earthquake. The film went through the Sundance screenwriter and director’s labs and is in post-production. It is produced by Aiko Masubuchi of New York and Tokyo-based Zakkubalan. Executive producers are award-winning Singaporean director Anthony Chen (The Breaking Ice) and Eric Nyari. Sora previously directed shorts including The Chicken, which premiered at Locarno in 2020, and Sugar Glass Bottle.
Contact: Zakkubalan

Harbin (S Kor)
Dir. Woo Min-ho
This period spy thriller marks director Woo’s follow-up to Oscar submission The Man Standing Next. Set in 1909, the true story follows the leader of a group of independence fighters who is willing to give up his life in a plot to assassinate the main architect behind Japan’s colonisation of the Korean peninsula. The cast is led by Hyun Bin (Confidential Assignment), Park Jeong-min (Smugglers) and Jo Woo-jin (Hunt). Produced by Hive Media Corp, the film is planned for a 2024 release.
Contact: CJ ENM

Left-Handed Girl (Tai-US)
Dir. Tsou Shih-Ching
Written and produced by US filmmaker Sean Baker (The Florida Project), this marks the solo directorial debut of his regular producer and Take Out co-director Tsou. The Taiwanese drama focuses on a 21-year-old woman who struggles to make ends meet in a night market along with her debt-laden mother, while her five-year-old sister, oblivious to the tensions, happily embraces the energy of life in Taipei. The project is on the debut slate of Through The Lens Entertainment, a new pan-Asian studio founded by Aditya Chand, with Bruce Berman, former chairman and CEO of Village Roadshow Pictures, as president.
Contact: Daniel Bee, Through The Lens Entertainment

Noise (S Kor)
Dir. Kim Soo-jin
This horror thriller marks the feature directorial debut of Kim, whose short The Line was in Cannes’ Cinefondation in 2013. The film centres on a deaf woman trying to find her younger sister who has vanished in an apartment building plagued with mysterious noises and an eerie presence. With the help of her sister’s boyfriend, she searches the building, encountering an array of hysterical and peculiar residents including a neighbour who threatens to kill her as he complains of noise from upstairs. The film stars Lee Sun-bin (Mission: Possible) and Kim Min-seok (Body Parts) with Jun Ik-ryoung (Bad Guys: Reign Of Chaos), Ryu Kyung-soo (Broker) and Han Su-a (Run Boy Run). Produced by Studio Finecut, the film is in post-production.
Contact: Finecut

Papa (HK)
Dir. Philip Yung
Starring Lau Ching Wan (Detectives vs Sleuths), Jo Koo (Distinction) and Dylan So, Yung’s latest film focuses on a café owner who leads a pedestrian existence after a family tragedy and his only wish is to have his 15-year-old son to come home, but the latter is locked up in a psychiatric prison for the murder of his mother and sister. The film is produced by Amy Chin (Over My Dead Body). Director Yung is best known for crime thriller Port Of Call and crime epic Where The Wind Blows, both of which were submissions by Hong Kong to the Oscars.
Contact: Fred Tsui, Moebius Entertainment (excluding Asia) / Felix Tsang, Golden Scene (Asia)

Pavane For An Infant (Malay-HK)
Dir. Chong Keat Aun
Following 2020’s The Story Of The Southern Islet, winner of best new director at the Golden Horse Awards, and Snow In Midsummer, which premiered at Venice last year before earning nine nominations at the Golden Horse Awards, prolific Malaysian director Chong is onto his third feature film. Starring Fish Liew (Anita), Natalie Hsu (Fly Me To The Moon), Ben Yuen (Suk Suk) and Pearlly Chua (Snow In Midsummer), his latest is set in a baby hatch where dedicated female social workers provide a safe haven for distressed women and vulnerable infants. It is executive produced by Jment Lim of SunStrong Entertainment and produced by Wong Kew Soon of Janji Pictures, who both previously collaborated with Chong on Snow In Midsummer.
Contact: Janji Pictures

Revolver (S Kor)
Dir. Oh Seung-uk
Cannes best actress winner Jeon Do-yeon (Secret Sunshine) reunites with director Oh, having previously starred in the filmmaker’s The Shameless, which played in Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 2015. In Revolver, Jeon stars as a former police officer out for revenge after serving a prison sentence for someone else and finding that the promised compensation for this has disappeared. The film also stars Ji Chang-wook of Netflix series Lovestruck In The City and Lim Ji-yeon of Netflix series The Glory. It is produced by Sanai Pictures, which has had films such as The Shameless, Hopeless and Hunt selected for Cannes. Backing and distribution comes from Plus M Entertainment, which worked with Sanai Pictures on Hopeless and Hunt.
Contact: Plus M Entertainment

The Serpent’s Path (Japan-Fr)
Dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Kurosawa, who won best director at Venice in 2020 with Wife Of A Spy, has adapted his own 1998 feature of the same name as a French-language thriller. It follows a man who enlists the help of a mysterious woman to exact revenge on his daughter’s murderer. The cast is led by Damien Bonnard (Asteroid City) and Ko Shibasaki (Silent Parade). Produced by Japan’s Kadokawa and France’s Cinefrance Studios, the film’s release is set for summer 2024.
Contact: Shoko Yoneda, Kadokawa

Skin Of Youth (Viet-Sing-Japan-Fr)
Dir. Ash Mayfair
The LGBTQ+ crime drama marks the first feature by Vietnam-born Mayfair since The Third Wife, which travelled to more than 70 film festivals following its premiere at Toronto in 2018 where it won the Netpac Award. Her latest is set in Saigon at the turn of the century is revolves around a trans girl whose love for a professional boxer is tested when they court the criminal underworld to find money for her sex-change operation. The cast is led by Vo Dien Gia Huy (Goodbye Mother) and Hajime Inoue (The Third Murder, Shoplifters). Producers include Tran Thi Bich Ngoc of An Nam Production, Fran Borgia of Akanga Films Asia, and Kayo Yoshida and Yuji Sadai, both from Bitters End.
Contact: Tran Thi Bich Ngoc, An Nam Production

Stranger Eyes (Sing-Tai-Fr)
Dir. Yeo Siew Hua
The latest film by Singapore-based director Yeo, who won Locarno’s Golden Leopard with A Land Imagined in 2018, stars Taiwanese actors Lee Kang-sheng (Days) and Wu Chien-Ho (A Sun). The voyeuristic thriller follows a young father who receives footage of his private life after his baby daughter goes missing and decides to flip the gaze in a bid to track the mysterious voyeur. It is produced by Fran Borgia of Akanga Film Asia, Stefano Centini of Volos Films, Jean-Laurent Csinidis of Films de Force Majeure and Alex C. Lo of Cinema Inutile. The international crew includes director of photogrpahy Hideho Urata of A Land Imagined and Plan 75, and editor Jean-Christophe Bouzy of Titane.
Contact: Playtime

This City Is A Battlefield (Indo-Sing-Neth-Fr-Nor-Phil)
Dir. Mouly Surya
Adapted from Mochtar Lubis’ 1952 novel A Road With No End, the fourth film by Indonesian director Mouly tells the story of a school teacher and war hero who lives in Jakarta after the country claims independence from the Dutch and the Japanese. The cast includes Chicco Jerikho, Ariel Tatum and Jerome Kurnia. Rama Adi of Cinesurya is the lead producer, with co-producers including Anthony Chen of Giraffe Pictures, Denis Vaslin of Volya Films, Isabelle Glachant of Shasha & Co Production. Mouly’s films have played in Sundance, Toronto and Rotterdam, while Marlina The Murderer In Four Acts premiered at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2017. She has directed upcoming Netflix feature Trigger Warning, starring Jessica Alba.
Contact: Rama Adi, Cinesurya

Virus (working title) (S Kor)
Dir. Kang Yi-kwan
This marks the latest from director Kang, whose Juvenile Offender was South Korea’s submission to the Oscars in 2014 after playing Toronto and Tokyo, where it won the special jury prize and best actor award. The cast includes Kim Yun-seok from Cannes titles The Yellow Sea and The Chaser, and Bae Doo-na from multiple Cannes titles such as Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Broker and Bong Joon Ho’s The Host. The story centres on the spread of a mysterious virus that makes the infected feel the emotion of love until it amplifies and kills them. A researcher discovers a pessimistic woman with a unique antibody, but who slowly starts to feel love for him. It is produced by The Lamp (A Taxi Driver) and Solar Pictures. Kang’s first feature, Apology (aka Sa-kwa), new screenwriter award at San Sebastian and the Fipresci Prize at Toronto in 2008.
Contact: Contents Panda