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Over 500,000 patrons attended the inaugural Silk Screen program of five Asian films from Columbia TriStar last year; this year, Silk Screen continues with three films, beginning September 27 with Vietnamese director Tran An Hun’s Vertical Ray of the Sun. And there’s more in the pipeline, reports Andrew L. Urban.

The expansion of Asian films in the program of all three major Australian film festivals this year – Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney – underlines the growth of popularity and audience interest in films from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and Vietnam, to name some of the diverse countries in the region. Last year’s launch of a season of Asian films under the Silk Screen banner earned Columbia TriStar accolades and revenue.

Grossing almost $5 million, the season and attracting over 500,000 patrons, the season proved there was indeed an audience for Asian films, if presented and marketed inventively.

Silk Screen is back for a second year, this time with three films: Vertical Ray of the Sun, Shadow Magic and Beijing Bicycle.

While it’s hard to live up to the novelty and sheer impact of the first season, in which the smash hits Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon closed the program, the distributor is upbeat and enthusiastic about the new season. Launching the films to the media in stylish fashion last week, Columbia TriStar made it clear that it had created a successful marketing formula and suggested there were more goodies to come – through it production entity based in Hong Kong (see below).

Silk Screen 2001/02:
Vertical Ray of The Sun: opens September 27
From Vietnam, directed by Tran An Hung who won the Camera d’Or (best first feature) at Cannes in 1993 for The Scent of The Green Papaya.

Shadow Magic: opens November 22
From China, the directorial debut of Ann Hu is a tribute to the establishment of cinema in China and is based on a true story.

Beijing Bicycle: opens February 7, 2002
From China, directed by Wang Xiaoshuai, Winner of the Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear Award,

In 2001 Silk Screen will again with many of last year’s cinema locations. Each film will exhibit for a full release season, exclusively at the following theatres :
Sydney : Dendy Opera Quays, Palace Verona, Roseville Twin
Canberra : Electric Shadows
Melbourne : Nova Carlton, Palace Como, Village Rivoli
Brisbane : Hoyts Greater Union
Adelaide : Palace East End
Perth : Palace Paradiso

Looking ahead to future Silk Screen seasons, Columbia Film Production Asia (the Hong Kong-based unit of Sony Pictures International) have already announced four new productions, with a line-up of talent from both the East and West: Big Shot’s Funeral, Double Vision (filming recently in Melbourne), Virtual Twilight and Heroes of Heaven and Earth. Sony Pictures International also recently acquired Australian distribution rights Quitting, (by the director of Shower).
The company has also just announced that Academy Award winning director Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) will be employed as a special consultant to advise the company on its Chinese-language developments.

Published August 16, 2001

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Vertical Ray of The Sun: opens September 27

Beijing Bicycle: opens February 7, 2002

Shadow Magic: opens November 22

LAST YEAR'S Silk Screen line-up

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