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Chariots of Fire has one more race left to run.
An unofficial sequel to the 1981 Academy Award-winning film, a Chinese, Hong Kong and U.S. co-production, is currently shooting and stars Joseph Fiennes and Chinese actor Shawn Dou with Hong Kong’s Stephen Shin taking directing duties.
The Last Race will tell the story of what happened to Eric Liddell (Fiennes), one of the runners that Chariots was based on, after he epically won his Olympic medal in 1924 and returned to China. Liddell, a devout Christian, was born in China to missionary parents and returned to the country to work as a missionary himself until his death in 1943.
The focus of the film will be Liddell’s friendship with a Chinese man (Dou), director Shin told The Hollywood Reporter. The two men met when Liddell returned to China and both were subsequently put into a Japanese concentration camp during WWII.
“It’s an exciting, passionate story of two men’s friendship and humanity in hardship,” said Shin.
The $24 million (150 million RMB) film will be produced by Hong Kong’s Sil-Metropole Organisation Ltd, China’s Beijing’s Forbidden City Film and American producer Jim Green. The project has been 10 years in the making.
“In 2005, I first heard about this story, and wanted to make the film in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games,” Shin said. “But because of the sensitive subject matter of Liddell being a missionary in China, and the fact that it has to be a Chinese co-production for it to be released outside of the quota in China, it took me 10 years to start the film.”
The film got Chinese state approval last year and began shooting in Canada and the U.S. in January of this year. Production then continued in Tianjin, where Liddell was born, and Shandong, where the concentration camp was. Filming is scheduled to conclude in August, for a March 2016 release date.
But before that, the film will have a premiere on Dec. 13, the commemoration date for the casualties of the Nanking Massacre.
The producers of the film will also publish a companion book of photos of the concentration camp and interviews with survivors, including a two-hour documentary. “The world knows the story of the Nazi concentration camps in films like Schindler’s List, but this is the story of a Japanese concentration camp that will strike a cord with audiences around the world,” Shin said.
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