Yang Zi’s film is based on a Chinese novel by Ge Shuiping.

China’s Hairun Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures Asia (VRPA) are co-developing Mountain Cry, written and to be directed by Yang Zi.

US-based Story Mining & Supply Co, through its strategic development alliance with VRPA, and Ivanhoe Pictures, through its recently-launched Asia production arm, are also boarding the project to contribute in the areas of development, finance and international marketing strategy.

The film is based on a Chinese novel of the same name by Ge Shuiping. The script won the prize for best artistic potential at last month’s Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) Pitch and Catch event.

Set in a remote mountain village, the story begins with the sudden death of a husband and father whose family to new to the tight-knit local community. Following his death, the villagers come to know the man’s widow, a beautiful mute with the power to tell her story without words.

Yang said he was inspired to make the film after spending many years abroad and then felt he lacked the language to express his feelings when he finally returned to a changed China.

“While China now has the second largest film market in the world, there is still rich potential for the development of the industry and the quality of its films,” said Hairun Media Group chairman Liu Yanming. “Yang Zi’s Mountain Cry script captivated me with its power.”

Ellen Eliasoph, president and CEO of VRPA, was a member of the three-member jury that chose Mountain Cry as one of the winners. Eliasoph found the project so compelling that VRPA quickly entered into a co-production agreement with Hairun.

“What makes Yang Zi’s Mountain Cry script so outstanding is the powerful drama of its story, and the fact that it feels authentically local in its setting, characters and dialogue but still resonates with universal themes of forgiveness, compassion and redemption,” said Eliasoph.

Mountain Cry is expected to start production in early 2015.