CAA signs director Lu Chuan

'City of Life and Death' helmer moves from WME

More Shanghai fest news

SHANGHAI -- CAA has signed Chinese director Lu Chuan to help expand his budding career into Hollywood.

Speaking at the opening of the 12th Shanghai International Film Festival on Friday, Lu told The Hollywood Reporter that he and agent Jonah Greenberg of CAA's Beijing office have begun to work on two contemporary English-language projects, both set in the U.S., together with producer Isabelle Glachant.

"Since we signed the deal a few weeks ago, CAA sent me more than 15 scripts and two of them are very exciting," said Lu, whose recent film "City of Life and Death" is a stark and unusually balanced portrait of the horrors of the 1937 Nanjing massacre.

While Greenberg pursued Lu and put a contract in front of him, the 38-year-old director also will be represented by Peter Loehr in Beijing and -- in CAA's Los Angeles office -- by Rand Holston and Spencer Baumgarten, agent to film legend John Woo, the most successful Chinese director ever to work in Hollywood.

"That's what's great about this. They work as a team to bring me opportunities," Lu said.

Lu first drew wide acclaim in 2004 for his quiet sophomore feature "Kekexili: Mountain Patrol," a film about antelope poachers in western China. Although it got a special mention at Berlin and was nominated at Sundance, Lu distances himself from his Chinese contemporaries who gained most of their recognition overseas.

"Me and Ning Hao don't belong to the sixth generation," Lu said, referring to the director who broke out with the 2006 sleeper "Crazy Stone." "We came up outside the international festivals. The Chinese market has given us the space to grow up on our own."

This year, Lu has stirred wide international press attention with "City" for its sympathetic portrait of a Japanese soldier caught up in his superior officers' fatal sadism in China.

Since its release in late April, "City" has sold roughly 160 million yuan ($23 million) in tickets in China. The film's budget at the China Film Group was roughly $12 million.

Lu previously was represented by WME.