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Arclight Films has stepped in as a co-producer of Chinese auteur Wang Quan’an’s upcoming Trump-era drama American Wall.
The audacious project is a departure from Wang’s previous work on many levels. It will be his first film told in English, as well as his first shot in the West — not to mention his first attempt at broaching a subject involving hot-button political issues in the U.S.
A familiar name on the international festival circuit, Wang won the Berlin International Film Festival’s Golden Bear in 2006 with his third feature, Tuya’s Marriage, a drama set in Inner Mongolia about a resilient young woman who must do whatever it takes to sustain her family after her husband becomes paralyzed. The filmmaker later won the best screenplay prize at Berlin for Apart Together, another stirring drama about a strained relationship and a strong woman torn between obligation and attraction.
Wang is back in competition at Berlin this year with his latest Mongolia-set mood piece, Öndög, which was shot in remote Mongolia and stars all untrained actors.
A road movie of sorts, American Wall follows an Iraq war veteran turned truck driver as he transports a chunk of President Donald Trump’s infamous border wall across the American Southwest. Wang is said to have conceived of the project while serving on the Berlin festival’s competition jury with Paul Verhoeven, Diego Luna and Maggie Gyllenhaal in 2017. At the time, Trump was new to the presidency, and his hardline immigration policies were dominating the news — and invariably filtering into conversations during the Berlinale.
Wang has spent the past eight months prepping the project, and recently completed a scouting expedition along the U.S.-Mexico border, along with some test shooting. The project is expected to go into production in May.
Arclight, based in Los Angeles and Sydney, Australia, is handling international sales on Wang’s Öndög at Berlin’s European Film Market. The company scored a commercial and critical hit last year as a producer of Paul Schrader’s First Reformed, which is nominated for an Oscar in the best original screenplay category.
Starlight Film, a company Wang recently established in the U.S., will co-produce American Wall with Arclight.
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