Cannes: Chinese Director Jia Zhangke Unveils Next Film

Jia Zhangke

"Shan He Gu Ren" will star the director's wife and muse, Zhao Tao, and is set in contemporary China and a future Australia.

At a press conference for Chinese media in Cannes Monday, Chinese director Jia Zhangke, winner of last year's best screenplay award, unveiled a few details of his next film, Shan He Gu Ren (which translates as "Mountain River Old Friend;" exact English title forthcoming). 

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The film will star Jia's wife and muse, Zhao Tao (A Touch of Sin, The World), and is set in several time periods. Beginning in the 1990s, the movie follows Tao and Dong, a young couple in love. Tao later leaves Dao to marry a wealthy mine owner. On his deathbed Dong meets Tao again; she is divorced and her son is exiled in Australia. The story jumps to Tao's son in Australia in the year 2025. The only word of Chinese he still remembers is his mother's name. 

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The film is written and directed Jia and produced by Shozo Ichiyama. Shanghai Film Group and MK2 are backing the project. 

Jia, who this year holds a seat on the Cannes jury, won the best screenplay prize at the 2013 festival with A Touch of Sin, a gritty portrayal of the social toll the country's "economic miracle" has wrought on the lives of ordinary individuals. The film was celebrated by critics around the world, but it was effectively banned in China, after regulators declined to grant it a screening license.