Singapore’s Anthony Chen Makes Chinese Filmmaking Debut With ‘The Breaking Ice’

From the comparatively small pond of Singapore, filmmaker Anthony Chen is venturing out into China’s enormous film market.

The 37-year-old Singaporean director, best known for his critically acclaimed dramas Ilo Ilo (2013) and Wet Season (2019), just wrapped production on his debut Mainland China feature, The Breaking Ice.

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Written and directed by Chen, the film follows the blossoming relationship among three young adults in their 20s over a few short days of heavy winter snowfall. The film stars a trio of Chinese A-listers: actress Zhou Dongyu (known for blockbusters Better Days and Us and Them) and actors Liu Haoran (the Detective Chinatown franchise) and Qu Chuxiao (The Wandering Earth, Love Will Tear Us Apart).

The film, which had been kept under wraps until now, was shot in Yanji, a border city in the far north of China, and it just completed production in January.

Chen has formed a new Chinese production banner, Canopy Pictures, with Chinese producer Meng Xie. Canopy co-financed The Breaking Ice alongside Chinese heavyweight Huace Pictures.

Huace Pictures will handle Mainland Chinese distribution of the film, while Beijing-based sales agent Rediance has taken on worldwide sales.

Chen won Cannes’ Camera d’Or with Ilo Ilo, his debut feature, in 2013. His sophomore feature Wet Season premiered in competition at the Toronto International Film Festival. Both films were selected as Singapore’s official submissions to the Oscars. His most recent work was a contribution to Neon’s COVID-era omnibus feature, Year of the Everlasting Storm, which premiered at Cannes in 2021.

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