Korea's Mirovision is enjoying a renaissance as an internationally-minded sales and production group, having spent much of the last year focussing on building its local distribution activities and its first theatre.
After last year backing Cannes Directors' Fortnight film Cry Woman, which was the first Korean-Chinese-French co-production, international production is again set to grow. Mirovision is readying its first English-language picture, Campus Ghost Story, which is co-produced with Wesley Snipes' Amen Ra. The character-driven supernatural thriller is directed by Quentin Lee, widely rated as one of the top new directors in the growing Asian-US cross-over market.
Other international productions include Last Scene a rare non-genre film from Dark Water and The Ring director Hideo Nakata. A heart-warming drama, the film sees an alcoholic former actor try to revive his career. Mirovision is also readying an untitled new film from another leading Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa.
The company has also stepped up local Korean production. By AFM in February it will deliver the $8m martial arts epic Sword In The Moon which stars Bad Guy revelation Cho Jae-hyun, and Stunt Man, a $6m Taxi-like action comedy with Kim Myung-min, the star of Sorum.
On the sales side it is closing a major Japanese deal on Wonderful Days, a futuristic animation film that at $13m is the most expensive Korean film of all time. The sci-fi story with environmental themes was fully financed by Samsung Ventures and is now set for delivery in January.
Recent pick-ups, which were screened this week at Mifed, include A Perfect Match, a romantic comedy set in Korea's culture of high-speed dating by woman director Mo Ji-Eun, and Family a War Of The Roses-like comedy featuring a battle between two mobsters and a pair of call girls.
"This is the beginning of Mirovision's second era," said group chief executive Jason Chae. "We now cover the range from Korean production, to Asian acquisitions through to international co-productions." The last days have brought further good news. Controversial Too Young To Die, which was banned in summer, has been passed uncut by the censor.
The film about the steamy love life of an elderly couple was given a restricted rating, making it effectively unreleasable, due to a seven-minute graphic sex scene. Director Park Yin-pyo has now darkened some of the scenes. "We are delighted as it will be able to screen at next week's Pusan festival and be released in cinemas. It will also give a boost to the sales effort," said Chae.
Mirovision is no stranger to controversy having also championed foreign art-house films including Requiem For A Dream, Hedwig And The Angry Inch and Y Tu Mama Tambien with platform releases from its Insa Arts Theatre, which opened in July.