Chinese film debuts at DTLAFF

By Brian Lowe Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/7 22:53:42

Movie ‘has many beautiful values’: US promoter

Liu Naiyi and Alain Azoulay Photo: Brian Lowe

Chinese movie "You'll Never Walk Alone" has made its US debut at a lavish red carpet ­affair in Los Angeles.

The film's general executive producer Liu Naiyi, its US promoter Alain Azoulay and behind the scenes staff met with media for a special screening of the film at the Regal LA Live theater complex as part of the 2019 Downtown LA Film Festival (DTLAFF) that ran from October 23 to 27.

"You'll Never Walk Alone" is the first Chinese film to debut at the DTLAFF. Liu said he is very pleased to have been ­given the opportunity to have the movie screened in the US.

"I'm very glad to come to Los Angeles," said the former actor turned producer. "My hometown is Xi'an, in Shaanxi Province. I once played the part of an emperor in a Chinese movie," a reference to his role as Ying Si, King Huiwen in the television series "The Qin Empire."

A true story based on the catastrophic Wenchuan earthquake in 2008 in a mountain village in Sichuan Province, Southwest China, "You'll Never Walk Alone" brings together a ragged soccer ball, a mathematics teacher who loves soccer, a principal who doesn't like the game, and a group of mismatched but energetic school children. It tells the story of how the community regained purpose, strength, and healing after the earthquake through soccer.

Liu said the story encapsulates the happiness and sadness of villagers and how they are connected to a soccer ball. He said they thought about telling the story from the perspective of a village child and also considered the perspective of an adult, but neither worked, so in the end they decided an old soccer ball would be best as it is like an eye. It can see everything people see, plus things we can't.

The movie was brought to the US through a partnership with US distribution agent the Azoulay Film Fund. Managing director Alain Azoulay said he and Liu first met about a year ago at the Chinese-American Film Festival and they have stayed in touch ever since.

"I've been fortunate to bring the film to the LA Film Festival, this is our 11th year. There is a lot of cultural mixing going on and we are only trying to inspire and motivate others to cross that cultural divide. To bridge it. Mr Liu and I are so happy to be working on this project together," Azoulay said.

"This film has many beautiful values in it that we here in the United States can benefit from. It inspires people and we encourage everyone to come and see it."

Azoulay said that the lead actress Zhushiman Liu is one of the heroines in the film, which is significant.

"In today's society, especially here in the States, this is a great value. It's all about empowering women and this film has a message about that," he said.

"I'm also pleased to announce that our young actress Liu has won the Downtown LA Film Festival best actress in a supporting role. We are extremely excited about that."

Azoulay said they plan to expand the festival in 2020 by involving the Shanghai Film Festival.

"I think it's very important, I really do. I think cross-­cultures need to bridge the gap, ­especially in today's society. It's about art and messages that we have from every part of the world. The art speaks for itself. It's not about politics."

Azoulay said he and Liu plan to go back to China where they will be doing more activities with the movie.

"We want to help educate people in the Chinese community to learn about film making. This is something that I want to do very much," he said.

Currently, the film has English subtitles but Azoulay said the plan is to dub the entire production so that American audiences can better understand the dialogue.

As part of the celebrations to mark the debut of "You'll Never Walk Alone" at the red carpet ­affair, Liu presented Azoulay and his associates with gifts, including a replica model of a Terracotta Warriors chariot.

"Terracotta Warriors are one of the eight wonders of the world," Liu said. "I couldn't bring the real Terracotta Warriors, so I'm giving a replica to my partners as a gift.

"This is a bronze chariot. All the details are a 100 percent copy of the real chariots made in the Qin Dynasty. It's nice artwork.

"I hope this gift can enhance our cooperation and I wish my movie and Alain's business can both be very successful."

"You'll Never Walk Alone" has also been featured at other international film festivals, including the Montreal Film ­Festival, the European International Film Festival and the Italian GIFFONI International Film Festival, as well as the ­Beijing International Sports Week.

Posted in: FILM

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