Anatomy of Time_dir by Jakrawal Nilthamrong copy

Source: Diversion

‘Anatomy Of Time’

In a year when festivals will hope for the return of audiences, industry and some sense of normalcy, Screen rounds up key contenders vying for the attention of programmers out of Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. (*denotes film previously appeared in Screen’s 2020 list)  


Anatomy Of Time (Thai-Fr-Neth-Sing)

Dir. Jakrawal Nilthamrong
Thai filmmaker Jakrawal’s Vanishing Point, a drama revolving around a horrific car crash, won Rotterdam’s Tiger Award in 2015. His second feature is a spiritual time-shifting drama following a woman from her carefree 20s in 1960s rural Thailand to present-day Bangkok as an older army general’s wife. This four-way co-production has secured Singapore’s IMDA Southeast Asian coproduction grant.  Thailand-based lead producers Mai Meksawan and Chatchai Chaiyon previously produced Phuttiphong Aroonpheng’s Manta Ray, which won best film in Venice’s Horizons sidebar in 2018. Contact: Diversion 

Barbarian Invasion (HK, Malay, Phil)

Dir. Tan Chui Mui
Pioneering Malaysian New Wave director Tan Chui Mui appears in front of the camera in her latest film as a washed-up actress who goes through martial arts training for a comeback role while searching for her identity. The cast also includes Pete Teo (Ghost In The Shell) and Bront Palarae (Folklore). The film is produced by Malaysia’s Woo Ming Jin and Bianca Balbuena from the Philippines as part of B2B A Love Supreme, a six-title film project put together by Hong Kong International Film Festival Society and China’s Heaven Pictures. Tan made wave with her debut Love Conquers All, which received Busan New Currents Award and Rotterdam Tiger Award. Contact: HKIFF Collection 

Decision To Leave (S Kor)

Dir. Park Chan-wook
The Handmaiden director and Cannes regular is in production on his latest feature with an aim to wrap in March. The film stars Park Hae-il (The Host) as a detective drawn to a mysterious widow (Tang Wei) while investigating her husband’s death. Moho Film is producing with CJ Entertainment backing and distributing. Contact: CJ Entertainment 

Emergency Declaration (S Kor)

Dir. Han Jae-rim
The King director’s latest feature is a highly anticipated disaster film about the events surrounding an aeroplane that is forced to make an emergency landing following an unexpected disaster. Parasite star Song Kang-ho heads a cast that also includes Lee Byung-hun (The Man Standing Next) and Jeon Do-yeon (The Housemaid). Contact: Showbox

Escape From Mogadishu * (S Kor)

Dir. Ryoo Seung-wan
Previously titled simply as Mogadishu, veteran director Ryoo’s highly anticipated action drama stars Kim Yoon-seok (1987: When The Day Comes), Zo In-sung (The Great Battle) and Huh Joon-ho (Default). Although North and South Korean embassy people have a history of diplomatic clashes in Africa, when civil war breaks out in Somalia’s capital, they are forced to cooperate to escape. In post-production, the film is aiming for theatrical release in the second half of 2021. Contact: Lotte Entertainment

Heaven To The Land Of Happiness

Source: Hive Media Corp

‘Heaven To The Land Of Happiness’

Heaven: To The Land Of Happiness * (S Kor)

Dir. Im Sang-soo
This Cannes 2020 label film selected to The Faithful category is The Housemaid director’s latest. It has yet to be screened anywhere and the big question is whether it could still find a physical festival berth this year. With a release date still up in the air because of the pandemic, Im is continuing to work on post-production on the film. The humorous drama about two terminally ill men stars Choi Min-sik (Old Boy) and Park Hae-il (The Host). Contact: Finecut

Hostage: Missing Celebrity (S Kor)

Dir. Pil Gam-sung
Hwang Jung-min (Veteran) stars in this thriller about a movie star who is abducted and realises through his kidnappers’ extreme brutality that they are not the pranksters he initially thought. As the ransom deadline approaches, he looks to escape. Produced by Filmmaker R&K (Veteran), Hostage is Pil’s feature debut. Contact: Contents Panda 

Memoria (Thai-Mex-UK-Ger-Ch)

Dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Weerasethakul’s first major feature outside of Thailand, Memoria shot in Colombia in the second half of 2019 but post-production was halted in 2020 due to the pandemic. Weerasethakul reunites long-time with collaborator Tilda Swinton who plays a woman who travels to Colombia where the unfamiliar sights and sounds send her on an inner journey. Other cast members including French actress Jeanne Balibar and Argentine actor Daniel Gimenez Cacho. The director’s long-time sales agent Match Factory – which also handled his Palme D’Or winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives – is promising a 2021 launch. Contact: Match Factory 

The Point Men (S Kor)

Dir. Yim Soon-rye
Based on real-life events around a Korean hostage crisis in Afghanistan, Yim’s drama stars Hwang Jung-min (The Spy Gone North) as a highly skilled South Korean diplomat sent to negotiate with the Taliban. When talks falter, he teams up with a special agent played by Hyun Bin (Late Autumn). Megabox Plus M is targeting this as a major 2021 release locally. Contact: Megabox Plus M 

Servando Magdamag (Phil)

Dir. Lav Diaz
Following collaborations on Berlinale Silver Bear winner A Lullaby To The Sorrowful Mystery and Venice Golden Lion The Woman Who Left, the Filipino auteur reunites with his leading man John Lloyd Cruz in a new social-political drama. Shot in Diaz’s signature black and white, the film stars Cruz as the son of a feudal family who has to confront the grim realities of his identity. The script is adapted by Ricky Lee from his own award-winning short story. Contact: ABS-CBN Films, Pia Bacungan-Laurel 

The Story Of Southern Islet (Malay)

Dir. Chong Keat Aun
Chong won multiple awards including best new director at Taiwan’s Golden Horse awards in 2020 for this film. Set in a Malaysian village near the Thai border, it follows a woman as she seeks a cure for her husband when he falls mysteriously ill, eventually turning to a shaman. The picture ran into hot water with censors back home for its exploration of traditional supernatural beliefs, but escaped major cuts. Contact: Lim Hui Bee, Asteri Production  

Terrorizers (Malay-Tai-Fr)

Dir. Ho Wi-ding
Following Cities Of Last Things, which won the top prize in Toronto’s Platform section in 2018, Taiwan-based Malaysian director Ho pays homage to Edward Yang’s 1986 drama The Terrorizers. The film is set in a pre-Covid Taipei, where a group of disenchanted souls are lost in a parallel virtual world. The film is backed by Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture and produced by Ho’s regular collaborator Sunny Hu of Taipei-based Changhe Films. The cast includes popular young actors Austin Lin (IWeirDo) and JC Lin (The Scoundrels) and respected actress Ding Ning, who won Golden Horse for best supporting actress for her performance in Cities Of Last ThingsContact: Changhe Films 

White Building (Camb)

Dir. Kavich Neang
The debut feature of Cambodia’s Neang builds on his award-winning 2019 documentary Last Night I Saw You Smiling exploring the 2017 demolition of Phnom Penh’s iconic White Building house project where he grew up. Here, the filmmaker transposes these experiences into a drama about a teenager who believes part of his memory will be destroyed when his childhood home is razed to the ground. The film was recently showcased in the Coming Soon pitching event of the TorinoFilmLab (TFL) in December, where it won one of the €45,000 TFL Audience Design Fund Awards. Contact: Anti-Archive 

Taste (Viet, Sing, Fr, Thai, Ger)

Dir. Le Bao
Self-taught Vietnamese director Le Bao made his mark with shorts Coal and Scent, set against the rarely filmed backdrops of the slums of Saigon where he grew up. His debut feature revolves around a Nigerian footballer in Vietnam who heads to an abandoned house with four female acquaintances for three days of communal living after his sporting ambitions are cut short by a broken leg. Contact:  Antoine Guilhem, Wild Bunch International 

Yuni (Indonesia-Sing-Fr)

Dir. Kamila Andini
A teenager sees her dreams of attending university under threat following a marriage proposal in Kamila’s fourth feature. The filmmaker’s debut The Mirror Never Lies travelled to more than 30 festivals, while her second film The Seen And The Unseen won multiple festival awards including the grand prix international jury prize of the Berlinale’s Generation Kplus in 2018. This new film is a three-way co-production backed by Singapore’s IMDA Southeast Asian co-production grant and France’s CNC and produced by her husband Ifa Isfansyah and Singapore-based Fran Borgia, whose credits include Locarno 2018 Golden Leopard winner A Land ImaginedContact: Sebastien Chesneau, Cercamon 


The Alleys_Hanadi copy

Source: The Imaginarium Films

‘The Alleys’

Ahed’s Knee (Isr-Fr)

Dir. Nadav Lapid
This semi-autobiographical tale revolves around a filmmaker battling an existential crisis at the same time as dealing with the death of his mother. Lapid won the Berlinale’s Golden Bear and Fipresci award with Synonyms in 2019, while debut film Policeman debuted in Locarno in 2011, winning the special jury prize, and The Kindergarten Teacher premiered in Cannes Critics’ Week in 2014. Contact: Kinology 

The Alleys (Jor-Egy-Fr-Qat)

Dir. Bassel Ghandour
Ghandour, who co-wrote and produced 2016 Oscar nominee Theeb, makes his feature debut with this drama set in a claustrophobic East Amman neighbourhood. The story revolves around a hustler in trouble when he is caught on camera romancing a respectable woman. Rula Nasser at Amman’s The Imaginarium Films lead produces the title, which is in post-production. The film clinched one of the top awards the Cairo Film Connection, the co-financing platform of the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF), in December. Contact: The Imaginarium Films 

Amira * (Egy-Pal-Jor)

Dir. Mohamed Diab
This drama is inspired by the real-life phenomenon of Palestinian prisoners whose sperm is smuggled out of Israeli jails so their partners can conceive through artificial insemination. It is Egyptian director Diab’s third feature after his breakout 2010 film 678, about sexual harassment in Cairo, and post-revolutionary drama Clash, which opened Cannes Un Certain Regard in 2016. Screen International Arab Star of Tomorrow Tara Abboud stars as a teenager who is trying to track down her biological father. Other cast members include Jordanian actress Saba Mubarak, Palestinian actors Ali Suleiman and Ziad Bakri, and US-Palestinian star Waleed Zuaiter. Contact: Pyramide International

Casablanca Beats 2 Groupe Ali n' Productions

Source: Groupe Ali n’ Productions

Casablanca Beats

Casablanca Beats (Mo-Fr)

Dir. Nabil Ayouch
First announced under the title of Positive School, Moroccan-French Cannes habitué Ayouch’s new film revolves around youngsters in Casablanca’s Sidi Moumen slum district participating in a cultural project encouraging them to express themselves through hip hop and music. Ayouch’s last film Razzia debuted in Toronto’s Platform section in 2017 while he Horses Of God premiered in Un Certain Regard in 2012 and Much Love screened in Directors’ Fortnight in 2015. Contact: Ali n’ productions, Houda Lakhdar  

Costa Brava Lebanon (Leb-Den-Fr-Nor-Swe)

Dir. Mounia Akl
Nadine Labaki and Saleh Bakri co-star as members of a family who quit the polluted, rubbish-strewn city of Lebanon for an idyllic mountain home. However, their dreams of a utopian existence are shattered by the construction of a landfill on the boundary of their land. Costa Brava Lebanon marks the debut feature of Screen International Arab Star of Tomorrow Akl who broke out internationally with her 2015 short Submarine. Lead produced by Beirut-based About Productions, the shoot wrapped in early January. Contact: mk2 Films 

Feathers Of A Father (Egy-Fr)

Dir. Omar El Zohairy
After a series of award-winning shorts former Youssef Chahine and Yousry Nasrallah assistant director El Zohairy makes his feature debut with this fantasy comedy about a family that is liberated from the control of its tyrannical patriarch after he is turned into a chicken during a magic show. Juliette Lepoutre and Pierre Menahem lead produce under the banner of their Paris-based company Still Moving. Contact: Pierre Menahem, Still Moving 

Goodnight, Soldier (Ku-Fr)

Dir. Hiner Saleem
Iraqi-Kurdish filmmaker Saleem returns to his native Kurdistan after France-set Tight Dress and Lady Winsley, which unfolded against the backdrop on a Turkish island. This new drama a young couple whose relationship is challenged when the husband is rendered impotent after being shot at the front. Saleem’s drama My Sweet Pepperland premiered in Cannes Un Certain Regard in 2013. Contact: Party Film Sales 

Huda’s Salon (Pal-Egy-Jor-Neth)

Dir. Hany Abu-Assad 
Abu-Assad’s ninth narrative feature is his first to shoot in Palestine since his 2015 Gaza-set drama The Idol. The Bethlehem-set tale stars Maisa Abd Elhadi as a woman who falls foul of another woman (Manal Awad) running a network of informers from her hair salon. Contact: Memento Films International 

Memory Box * (Leb-Fr-Can)

Dirs. Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige
Lebanese directorial duo Hadjithomas and Joreige are best known for their 2012 documentary The Lebanese Rocket Society which premiered at Denmark’s CPH: DOX. Previously announced The Notebooks, their new film revolves around a Montreal-raised teenage girl of Lebanese origin discovers her mother’s turbulent past in war-torn 1980s Beirut when an old suitcase containing her adolescent notebooks, audiotapes and photographs is sent to their home out of the blue. Contact: Playtime

Shake Your Cares Away (Isr-Ger-Rus-Fr)

Dir. Tom Shoval
Bérénice Bejo stars as the widow of a multimillionaire who decides to convert her luxury home into a refuge for the needy but her worthy act does not pan out as expected It is a second feature for Shoval, whose debut film Youth premiered in the Berlinale’s Panorama in 2013. The production is lead produced by Green Productions, with Alejandro G. Iñárritu executive produces. Contact: Antoine Guilhem, Wild Bunch International