AFM: Taiwan Backs LGBT Drama 'Baby Steps'

The film, about a gay couple living in LA who decide to have a baby by surrogate, will be produced by veteran Taiwanese producer Li-Kong Hsu, who supported Ang Lee's breakthrough, "The Wedding Banquet."

Twenty years after producing Ang Lee’s breakthrough movie The Wedding Banquet, legendary Taiwanese producer Li-Kong Hsu is backing another controversial film with a gay theme called Baby Steps.

The co-production project, with a budget of “$1 million or $2 million,” was announced Thursday at AFM and will be shot in Taipei and Los Angeles, writer-director Stephen Israel said.

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“We expect to have finished the film by about July and aim for a high-level festival premiere,” like at the Berlin International Film Festival, he said.
 The movie is a family drama revolving around a gay couple living in Los Angeles who plans to have a baby by surrogate, a practice that is currently illegal in Taiwan. The subject matter means it will not get a release in mainland China.

“I loved the script because it addresses issues for a gay family realistically. I’m not afraid of the controversy as I want to encourage a dialogue,” said Hsu, who is president of Zoom Hunt International Productions and has produced The Wedding Banquet, Eat Drink Man Woman and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with the two-time Oscar-wining Lee, who was born in Taiwan.

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The film is scheduled to start shooting Dec. 22 in the capital city of Taipei. 
Baby Steps is written and directed by Barney Cheng, who starred in Woody Allen’s Hollywood Ending. It will feature, in the role of the mother, leading Taiwanese actor Grace Guei, who also was featured in The Wedding Banquet and Eat Drink Man Woman, and newcomer Michael Adam Hamilton.

The movie is a co-production between Israel’s School Pictures and Tang Moon.

Said Cheng: “Mr. Hsu has been very supportive of LBGT-themed movies. We had Wedding Banquet, and 20 years later we wanted to make a film about a similar theme.”