The closing film at the 64th Venice Film Festival

Blood BrothersBlood Brothers (Tiantang kou), Alexi Tan’s first feature film, produced by John Wooand Terence Chang, is to be the closing film at the 64th Venice Film Festival, which runs from 29th August to 8th September 2007 at the Lido, and is directed for the fourth year by Marco Müller and organised by the Fondazione La Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Davide Croff. With the decision to open its 64th edition with Atonement, the second film by 35-year-old director Joe Wright, and to close it with Blood Brothers (Tiantang kou), the first work by Alexi Tan, the Venice Film Festival has confirmed the trend of recent years of discovering young, promising talent, who are able to offer unusual viewpoints and new trends in contemporary cinema with their films. In recent years, the following are just some who have had their debut in Venice with enormous success: Santiago Amigorena, Allen Coulter, Aleksey German Jr, Miyazaki Goro, Ethan Hawke, Gregory Jacobs, Francesco Munzi, Fausto Paravidino, Liev Schreiber, Nomura Tetsuya, Piotr Uklansky, Ivan Vyrypaev.

The film which is a Chinese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong co-production, stars Daniel Wu, Chang Chen, Shu Qi, Liu Ye, Tony Yang, Sun Honglei and Lulu Li, and is an action-packed thriller with an epic range. Inspired by John Woo’s masterpiece, Bullet in the Head (Die xue jie tou, 1990), the film tells the story of the events of a group of friends and the loss of their innocence in 1930s Shanghai. Blood Brothers (Tiantang kou) will be presented out of competition for its international premiere on the evening of 8th September in the Sala Grande of the Palazzo del Cinema, in the presence of the director and cast.

Blood Brothers (Tiantang kou), is produced by not only Terence Chang but also by John Woo, now back in Asia as producer, following his Hollywood successes (Face/Off, Mission: Impossible II and Paycheck). The film boasts a cast including some of the most important stars of Asian cinema: Liu Ye (Curse of the Golden Flower by Zhang Yimou; The Floating Landscape by Carol Lai Miu Suet, in competition at the 60th Venice Film Festival), Daniel Wu (Everlasting Regret in competition at the 63rd Venice Film Festival; The Banquet by Xiaogang Feng, out of competition in the 62nd  Venice Film Festival), Chang Chen (Breath by Kim Ki-duk in competition in Cannes 2007; 2046 by Wong Kar Wai; the episode entitled The Hand by Wong Kar Wai in Eros, out of competition in the 61st Venice Film Festival; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Ang Lee; Happy Together by Wong Kar Wai), Shu Qi (Three Times and Millennium Mambo by Hou Hsiao-hsien; The Eye 2; Transporter) and Tony Yang (Catch; Formula 17; Ming Ming).

Director Alexi Tan (born on December 3rd, 1968) studied in London at the NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and began his career as a photographer. In 2000 he directed his first short film 17.17. which was shown at the Brooklyn International Film Festival. Subsequently, he directed TV advertisements and music videos, which won a number of prizes and international recognition. In 2003, Tan filmed Double Blade, a short lasting 15 minutes and entirely set in Los Angeles, starring the latest revelation of Taiwanese pop artist, Jay Chou, and the Hollywood stars Leila Arcieri and Danny Trejo. Pulp Fiction cameraman Andrzej Sekula also worked on the film. The short immediately attracted the attention of John Woo and Terence Chang, who decided to produce his first feature film, Blood Brothers (Tiantang kou).

Blood Brothers (Tiantang kou)is set in 1930s Shanghai, a city enjoying its moment of splendour, a flourishing Babylonia of modern times, inhabited by the “lords of war”, politicians, rich industrialists, concubines and gangsters. Kang (Liu Ye), Fung (Daniel Wu) and Hu (Tony Yang), three innocent youths, have arrived in this false paradise in search of a better life. With the passing of time, each of them follows a different road but all find themselves involved in a life of crime. Kang is eager for power and is the most ambitious. Fung, who was satisfied with the simple life of the village in which he used to live, but now obliged to seek refuge in Shanghai, is thrust into a world of violence in which he is surprised to discover a heroic side to his nature. He then falls in love with the beautiful Lulu (Shu Qi), a splendid free spirit who dreams of fame. Hu is the most innocent and extrovert of the three, blindly enamoured of his brother, Kang, whom he would follow to the ends of the earth. Later, Fung meets Mark (Chang Chen), a charismatic figure searching for the right way forward but who is tormented by his past. Set within a framework of decadence, the life of the protagonists takes a dangerous trend when a forbidden love affair becomes public property. Friends turn against friends, brothers against brothers. The days of innocence are over; they must set themselves up as men and make their own choices.

This year’s festival will cast its eye over the protagonists of the cinema of tomorrow, and over the history of cinema (the 75th anniversary Golden Lion is to be awarded to Bernardo Bertolucci, the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement to Tim Burton, the celebratory events are directed by Alexander Kluge, and the retrospective is dedicated to “Spaghetti Westerns”). This duel face of the oldest film festival in the world, which never ceases to both discover and reveal cinema, will once again be seen in the selection of films which are in the various sections of the Festival. It will be a programme which unites works by young directors who are as yet unknown with works by the greatest film makers from around the world. All names will be officially announced on 26th July at the press conference presenting the 64th Venice Film Festival, held at the Westin Excelsior Hotel in Rome.