'Dim Sum Funeral' not the end for Chi

Director plans 'The Mermaid' for next project

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BUSAN, South Korea -- Anna Chi, director of the Pusan International Film Festival entry "Dim Sum Funeral," told The Hollywood Reporter that her next helming project will be "The Mermaid" for Taiwanese producer Hsu Li-kong, who produced Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "The Wedding Banquet."

Chi wrote the Chinese-English script of "Mermaid," which will be produced by Hsu's Zoomhunt International of Taiwan. The film is tentatively scheduled to start production next year in Yunnan, China, Hsu said in an interview.

Chi, in Busan for "Funeral's" world premiere in the World Cinema section, wanted her latest film to give a realistic look of Chinese immigrants.

"Chinese don't live in Chinatown anymore, so ("Funeral") is about how Chinese in the U.S., Canada and Europe today really are," she said.

The comedy, starring Steph Song ("The Thaw"), Kelly Hu ("X2: X-Men United") and Russell Wong ("The Joy Luck Club") in an exploration of the universal theme of family, shot in 16 days in Vancouver last year.

"Every family has its own dynamics," Chi said. "The relationship within the family in the film is like a spider web, spread out and all interlinked together. You might not like your father, mother, brother or sister that much, but you still have to come back to your family, because that's who you are."

After PIFF, Chi hopes to bring "Funeral" to the Shanghai and Hong Kong festivals. The film will make its market debut in November at the American Film Market, repped by Imagination Films Worldwide, and its U.S. premiere at the AFI Fest.

The prolific writer-director has written a number of scripts, including the animation feature project "Princess Warrior" for Terence Chang and John Woo's Lion Rock, which she said is now in preproduction.

Chi also wrote the script for "Women Warriors of the Yang Family" with "Funeral" writer Donald Martin, set in ninth century China but "told with today's sensibilities," she said. The script was acquired by the Weinstein Co. back when it was Miramax and has been in development for six years, with Chi and Janet Yang ("Dark Matter") producing.

The story required five Chinese actresses playing the warriors -- Chi said casting has been delayed as there is no director attached -- but such major Chinese female stars as Joan Chen, Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi have expressed interest.
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