Producer Mike Medavoy and Shanghai Film Group are teaming on a feature and a related six-hour miniseries set in China

Producer Mike Medavoy (Silence of the Lambs, Shutter Island, Black Swan) and Shanghai Film Group (SFG) president Ren Zhonglun announced today at the 14th Shanghai International Film Festival their partnership to produce a feature film project and related six-hour TV miniseries set in World War II China.

The untitled film project will be loosely-based on The Cursed Piano, a novel by Chinese author Bei La. Screenwriter Nicholas Meyer (Elegy, Sommersby) will script the project. Meyer and Medavoy previously worked together on the film Time and Again.

The story begins with a Jewish pianist fleeing to Shanghai after the German invasion of Poland and then follows a love story then unfolds in the Japanese-occupied city.

The six-hour miniseries, based on Daniella Kuhn’s story, Tears of the Sparrow, will be made in parallel with the film and will focus more closely on the Jewish experience in Shanghai. Both projects will share common story elements and characters.

This project marks the closing of a symbolic circle for Jewish Madavoy who was born in Shanghai in 1941 after his parents fled Ukraine in the 1920s. He lived in Shanghai until he was seven before the family immigrated to Chile and then the US.

The project is currently at script-development stage and the production team is yet to determine the budget. “It will be big, not a 5 million size project,” said Medavoy at a press conference held in Shanghai. “We are looking at the type of pictures of David Lean. Doctor Zhivago will be a similar kind of film to our project,” Medavoy told Chinese press.

Funding of the film project will likely be raised entirely from China, while half the funding of the miniseries will be raised in China, Medavoy said.

Chinese parliament member and Jewish culture scholar Zhao Qizheng will serve as senior advisor on the film, while Shanghai-based author Hu Wei and Robert Lawrence Kuhn, author of The Man Who Changed China will serve as executive producers and Kuhn’s writing partner as special advisor.