Quirky art-house comedy vies with blockbuster rivals

Mr Zhu’s Summer will arrive in Chinese theaters on Nov 10. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Somewhat of a Chinese answer to the 2000 Japanese movie Kikujiro, the upcoming comedy Mr Zhu’s Summer will open at theaters across the Chinese mainland on Nov 10.

Produced by Chinese filmmaker Xu Zheng and veteran Taiwan film producer Peggy Chiao, the movie is directed by rising star Song Haolin.

The movie was first screened at the 50th Annual WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival in the United States in April, where it won a Platinum Remi Award, one of the festival’s highest honors.

Set in the summer, the tale centers on a primary schoolteacher, who works diligently but is made fun of by his colleagues and students. After the depressed protagonist quits his job, two of the naughty children begin to realize his value and try to get him back to the school by any means necessary.

Sun Bo, a veteran actor behind a series of avant-garde stage plays, plays the teacher, while teenage star Li Haoze plays one of the naughty students.

Xu, known for his hit Lost franchise, hopes theater managers will add more screenings of the unlikely domestic art-house title, since China’s cinemas have been long dominated by big-budget action movies.

“I hope Chinese cinemas can offer more choice to people who love different kinds of movies. Mr Zhu’s Summer is a warm story but also looks deep into the sad side of life. The tale attracted me at first glance,” says Xu during a preview screening on Sunday.

Up to eight other movies, including the Hollywood blockbuster Murder on the Orient Express and Danish director Bille August’s The Chinese Window, will open the same day as Mr Zhu’s Summer.

Quirky art-house comedy vies with blockbuster rivals

Producer Xu Zheng (left) alongside actor Sun Bo promote the upcoming comedy Mr Zhu’s Summer. [Photo provided to China Daily]

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