Anthony Chen’s well-regarded Mainland China-set “The Breaking Ice” has found favor with multiple European and Asian buyers in the few days since its Sunday premiere as part of the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard.
The film narrates a love triangle story among China’s lost youth generation and is set in the middle of winter in Yanji, a town that is heavily populated by ethnic Koreans. It is headlined by a star-studded Chinese cast of Zhou Dongyu (“Better Days”), Liu Haoran (“Detective Chinatown” franchise) and Qu Chuxiao (“The Wandering Earth”).
“The Breaking Ice” has been newly licensed to Challan for release in South Korea, Trigon-Film for Switzerland, One From the Heart for Greece, Tucker Film for Italy and Edko Films for Hong Kong.
Rights sales are handled by Rediance, Mainland China’s leading indie sales company, which reports that addition territory deals are currently being negotiated.
Prior to its festival debut, the film was also licensed to Nour Films for release in France. In Chen’s native Singapore, it will be released by director’s Giraffe Pictures.
The film was produced by Canopy Pictures and co-financed by heavyweight producer-distributor Huace Pictures. It is targeting a significant release in Mainland China later this year, but details have yet to be disclosed.
Chen is no stranger to Cannes. His short film “Grandma” (“Ah Ma”) won a special mention at the festival in 2007. His debut feature, “Ilo Ilo” won the Camera d’Or for best first film at Cannes, in 2013. While his second feature “Wet Season” premiered in Toronto in 2019, Chen returned to Cannes in 2021 with “The Break Away,” a segment of the anthology “The Year of the Everlasting Storm.” Chen’s first English-language film “Drift” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.
Chen had a steep learning curve with “Ilo Ilo” and sought greater control of his work by expanding into production. He was executive producer of Kirsten Tan’s Sundance title “Pop Aye” and producer of He Shuming’s 2022 Busan title “Ajoomma.”