BUSAN, South Korea, Oct 4, (Agencies): Chinese actress Tang Wei is not obsessed about finding the right role for her future film project. For the “Lust, Caution” star, it is the people she works with on a film set and the chemistry with them that counts.
Tang shot to international fame with her role in Ang Lee’s 2007 spy thriller set in the World War II era, which won the Venice Film Festival’s best film award. She played a Chinese student recruited to seduce a Japanese-allied Chinese official as part of an assassination plot. The film is still Tang’s best known work outside Asia. Asked about the roles she would like to play in the future, Tang said Saturday that her job is not about the role, but about the people and the conversations with them. “For me in this job, in this work, it’s more about who you are working with. It’s nothing about what you’re working on,” she said.
“It’s the people, and the conversations, and also the chemistry that’s more important for me.” It should be no surprise that those conversations and the chemistry on a film set helped her find her love. Tang met her husband, South Korean director Kim Tae-yong, on the set of Kim’s romance drama “Late Autumn” in 2010. Last year, they wed in a small ceremony at the late legendary director Ingmar Bergman’s island home in Sweden.
This year’s Busan International Film Festival is screening three movies featuring Tang, including Johnnie To’s musical “Office,” where she plays a bespectacled, hard-working office lady. She also played a female lead in “A Tale of Three Cities” directed by Mabel Cheung and appears in epic fantasy movie “Monster Hunt,” which has been setting box office records in China since hitting theaters in July
Tang had a three-year hiatus after filming “Lust, Caution,” attributed to the political sensitivity of the traitor role she played in the movie, reportedly landing her on Chinese film officials’ blacklist for three years. But in the past five years, she has been frequently spotted on screens in Asia from theaters to TV ads. Her latest movie, “Office,” is the first musical by the Hong Kong action master To about love and conspiracies at a Hong Kong company set against the backdrop of the 2008 financial crisis. Tang said it was the right direction for her, with great chemistry. “This is the dream crew for me. The whole crew, everybody is a master,” she said. Filming with veteran Asian screen stars Sylvia Chang and Chow Yun-fat made her feel like “a little vegetable bird,” Tang said with giggles, a literal translation for a Chinese word meaning rookie. One thing she misses from the set is the smell of cigars, she said, bursting out laughing. To is a habitual cigar smoker. “When you smell, oh cigar smell is coming,” she said, “oh then (you know) the director is coming.”
Chennai-based writer/director Hari Viswanath began his film journey in 2012 with the Tamil-language short “Idukkan (Sufferings)” that premiered at Cannes and won best short at the Norway Tamil Film Festival. His follow up short “Pesum Virus (Talking Virus),” again in Tamil, also played at Cannes’ Short Film Corner. His feature debut “Radiopetti (Radio Set),” also in Tamil, is in competition in the Busan New Currents strand, where it had its world premiere Oct 3. “I’m happy to know that this is the only Indian film and the first Tamil film to be selected in competition this year. And getting a world premiere at such a prestigious film festival is extremely exciting and rewarding to our entire team,” says Viswanath. Viswanath got the idea for “Radiopetti” while chatting to a friend, where a discussion about hearing aids led to them reminiscing about their grandfathers. “That’s where I recollected the memories of my grandfather with his radio set. The idea sparked,” says Viswanath. “Apart from this, I used to see an old man on the road, who is partially deaf and alone, like he is isolated. I used to wonder what made him alienated and why? All these questions and memories turned into a script that is “Radiopetti.”
Set in the picturesque South Indian coastal state and former French colony Puducherry (previously Pondicherry), “Radiopetti” is the story of an endearing old man who finds solace in his past while listening to musical melodies of his younger days on his vintage radio set. Circumstances lead to the loss of the radio but he continues to hear the music all too well to the point where his friends and family question his sanity.
Viswanath convinced two of his friends to come on board as investors, got some loans, and put up the rest of the $300,000 budget himself. He produced via his Harry Toonz Studio outfit. Experienced crew members include British composer Richard Ford (television’s “Paris — City of Dreams”) and production designer Suresh Selvarajan (“Krrish 3”). Viswanath decided to go with an unknown cast because, “First of all, the story gave the gut feeling to go with an unknown cast, and secondly we didn’t have the budget to go with established stars.” The filmmaker is in discussions with independent distributors in Portugal, Poland, France and Japan for the film’s release. For Asia, Viswanath says, “We hope to use the Busan Film Festival selection to expand international markets for Tamil films. We are trying maximum to capitalise the Busan market too for distribution.” For India, Viswanath is waiting for the Busan buzz to spread before approaching buyers.