EXCLUSIVE: Artificial Eye and Protagonist pick up Microwave feature Lilting starring Ben Whishaw and Cheng Pei Pei.

Film London Microwave backed-drama Lilting, starring Ben Whishaw and Cheng Pei Pei, has been picked up by Protagonist Pictures for sales and Artificial Eye for UK rights.

Writer-director Hong Khaou’s debut about love without a common language is produced by Dominic Buchanan. Pei Pei plays a non-English speaking woman who must befriend her son’s male lover after his untimely death. Together they are forced to overcome their differences whilst struggling against the absence of a shared language.

Peter Bowles, Morven Christie and Andrew Leung also star.

Additional finance comes from Stink Films, SUMS Film and Media Ltd, Lim Kay Sui and Neo Swee Lin. It is the eighth film from the Microwave fund.

Louisa Dent, managing director of Curzon Film World commented: “When we read the script, it was clear that this was something special. There is an emotional urgency that is compelling and honest. Hong is a real emerging talent and his short films marked him out. 

“We knew that Microwave/Film London team would be great partners on this and with a quality cast it seemed liked a perfect fit for us.”

Mike Goodridge, CEO of Protagonist Pictures added: “I had admired Hong’s shorts so it was with great excitement that I watched his first feature Lilting. But Hong exceeds expectations: the film is an accomplished and mature portrait of love and loss, graced by two extraordinary lead performances.

“The whole Protagonist team was knocked out by it and we are confident it will be embraced by distributors around the world.”

Adrian Wootton, chief executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: “Lilting is a moving cinematic achievement and I am delighted that it will reach UK audiences through Curzon Film World and that Protagonist will be managing international sales.

“It is a testament to Microwave’s innovative approach to film-making that its projects attract high-calibre talent and prestigious commercial distributors and sales agents.

“The scheme’s successful track record is also a result of the Microwave team, who are integral to nurturing and guiding all our film-makers. I am proud to see another Microwave feature proving itself in the commercial marketplace and hope this is only the start of Lilting’s success.”