New movie recreates Chinese-French romance parted by war
Li Xiuying was never re-united with her French lover after war parted them, but a new Chinese-French movie may allow them to meet again on the screen.
Chenxiang Mountain is the latest film to be co-produced by China and France following The Nightingale and Wolf Totem. Set during WWII, it tells the love story of a Chinese girl and a French soldier.
Shooting started on Sunday in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
Fan Yiping, who wrote the script, said the film was inspired by the love story an ethnic Yao woman from Shangsi county, a mountainous part of Guangxi.
Li Xiuying met the soldier in 1945 as the French army, defeated by the Japanese, retreated from Vietnam into China. The soldier left a year later with his army and Li waited over 70 years for his return. Li died in 2013, at 95.
“Writing the script took me five years, but it was nothing compared to Li’s wait,” said Fan, who met Li five years ago.
Denis Dercourt, the French director of the film, is also a musician. He said apart from using image and scenery to enhance the love theme, music will also play an important role in the movie.
Prior to Chenxiang Mountain, two previous Chinese-French co-productions have caught the public eye.
The Nightingale, a family saga directed by Philippe Muy, is China’s contender for this year’s best foreign language film Oscar, while Wolf Totem, adapted from a popular Chinese novel of the same name and directed by Jean Jacques Annaud is scheduled for release next year.
These co-productions are the result of a movie agreement signed by China and France in 2010. Co-produced films enjoy easy access to China’s screens, dodging the quota on imported films that is often filled by Hollywood blockbusters.
For Chinese movie makers, co-production brings them a step closer to foreign cinema-goers.
Ning Ning, producer of the film, said French audiences favor Chinese movies featuring ethnic minority cultures, as seen by the popularity of such films in Paris film festivals.
“Chinese movie stars don’t have much appeal to the French audience, but unique lifestyles and cultures are always applauded,” she said.