The Olympic Games now behind him, Zhang Yimou is preparing to shoot a black comedy with comedians Zhao Benshan and Xiao Shenyang.
Zhang has just returned from visiting Zhao and his theater troupe in Shenyang City of Northeastern China. Chinese media reported that it was a casting trip for his new comedy. Catherine Pang from Zhang’s Beijing New Pictures said it would be one of Zhang’s next projects, but did not confirm if it is the next film to go before the cameras.
In early March, Zhang told Chinese CCTV that he would be making a film in the second half of the year and the film would be one of the films celebrating the 60th anniversary of Communist China. Last year, Zhang was also preparing a drama adapted from Thirteen Girls in Jinling City, a novel written by author Yan Geling. The story is about thirteen prostitutes who sacrificed their lives to save a group of convent girls in Nanjing during the massacre of Nanjing in 1937.
However, in the wake of the global financial crisis, Zhang decided that a light-hearted film will better suit the liking of Chinese audience, according to Gao Dakuan, spokesperson for Zhao Benshan.
Zhao has worked with Zhang before, in Keep Cool (1997) and Happy Times (1990). He is a household name in China because of his comedy performances in the annual Spring Festival Gala. Performing in the gala is seen as high honor for Chinese performers. Zhao’s disciple Xiao Shenyang, who won overnight fame at 2009 Spring Festival Gala, will also act in the new film.
Zhao’s theater troupe is likely to be involved in scripting and investment of the new comedy project, according to Gao.