EXCLUSIVE: Film reuniting Zhang Yimou [pictured] with Gong Li will be ready in time for Cannes Film Festival.

Wild Bunch has snapped international sales of Zhang Yimou’s upcoming love story Coming Home, reuniting the director with actress Gong Li.

“This is a couple, Zhang Yimou and Gong Li, at the top of their art, delivering the work of their life. They are at their peak,” Wild Bunch co-chief Vincent Maraval told Screen.

Maraval screened a rough-cut of Coming Home, in Hong Kong last Thursday (Jan 30) and signed the film on the spot.

The film was produced by Zhang Zhao, CEO of Beijing-based Le Vision Pictures, and Zhang’s long-time, Hong Kong-based producer and distributor Bill Kong. David Linde is executive producer.

Le Vision Pictures will distribute the film in China. Kong’s Edko Films is handling Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia/Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia and Philippines. Wild Bunch is selling the rest of the world.

Coming Home takes inspiration from Chinese writer Yan Geling’s The Criminal Lu Yanshi, revolving around the tumultuous life of a Chinese dissident from the 1920s to the 1990s. 

Zhang has focused on the second part of the work in which Lu Yashi returns home after 20 years in a labour camp only to discover his wife has forgotten him. Reluctantly wed to her in an unwanted arranged marriage decades earlier, Lu has finally decided she is the love of his life.

Gong plays the wife opposite Chen Daoming as Lu.

The film marks a return for Zhang to the intimate style of his early works after martial arts action pictures and period epics such as Hero and House of Flying Daggers.

“It looks simple but this simplicity is probably the most difficult thing to reach in art. This is pure cinema,” said Maraval. “This is also a beautiful love story from Zhang Yimou to Gong li. Gong Li gives the performance gives of her life.”

Zhang and Gong last collaborated together seven years ago on the big budget Curse of the Golden Flower set against the backdrop of ancient China.

Coming Home, which is currently in post-production, will be ready in time for the Cannes Film Festival. Wild Bunch will have a script available at the EFM.

The deal is the second recent collaboration for Wild Bunch with Hong Kong producer Bill Kong, after Jacques Annaud’s upcoming Mongolia-set, 3D epic Wolf Totem

Wild Bunch will premiere a 3D promo reel at the EFM for the picture revolving around a student who becomes fascinated with wolves when he banished to Mongolia during the Cultural Revolution.

‘Bill combines high quality with international potential which is what we are looking for in China,” said Maraval.

In another Chinese acquisition, Wild Bunch is also selling Lou Ye’s Golden Bear contender Blind Massage, about the lives of a group of blind masseurs.

Other titles on the company’s EFM slate include Oscar-winning Michel Hazanavicius’ The Search. It will also continue sales on Wish I Was Here and White Bird In A Blizzard which were well received at Sundance. 

The Paris-based sales and production powerhouse, which has a long history of handling Chinese directors with international potential, is making increasing in-roads into China.

Maraval said the company’s collaboration with Chinese entertainment group Taihe, which was announced last June, was taking shape.

Under the joint venture, called Taihe Wild Bunch, Beijing-based Taihe exploits Wild Bunch’s catalogue in China and the two companies also work together to identify films, projects and talents from both territories with crossover potential into both markets.

“They are serious and solid. They share the same vision as us and are extremely professional,” said Maraval. “We feel we are building something for the long-term with them, not a simple opportunistic shot.”