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Writing their own story

With self-made movie, scriptwriting couple pen a love letter to cinema, Xu Fan reports.

By Xu Fan | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-13 14:01

The award-winning comedy Galaxy Writer delves into the status quo of the Chinese film industry through the tale of two ambitious yet struggling scriptwriters (center and second right) and their circle of friends. [Photo provided to China Daily]

When online presales opened for Christopher Nolan's iconic Dark Knight trilogy, showing as part of the 8th Beijing International Film Festival in 2018, tickets sold out in just seven seconds. The first instalment of the trilogy didn't make it to the Chinese mainland when it was released globally in 2008, which might explain the enthusiasm of fans to see it on the big screen.

Li Kuo was among the lucky ones, managing to secure two tickets. However, since his friend can no longer join him as planned, he has decided to sell his now spare ticket at face value.

Concerned about accidentally selling it to scalpers — who have already driven the price up to more than five times the original amount — and hoping the precious ticket would end up with a genuine movie fan, he came up with an interesting idea.

He posted a notice in a WeChat group, announcing that he would sell the ticket to the individual who could answer a question about Nolan's movies, which he would release at 8 pm that night. The question was "what is the very first line spoken by Joker in The Dark Knight?"

"Only a real fan, who has watched the movie more than three times, will answer it correctly, as Joker speaks before he removes his mask, revealing himself for the first time. The line is 'no, no, no … I kill the bus driver'.

It was an exciting moment, with more than 100 people online, and the fourth person to answer got it right," he recalls.

Directors Li Kuo and Shan Dandan (right) work at the filming set. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The unique situation serves as a pivotal plot point in the comedy film, Galaxy Writer, Li's directorial debut feature film, jointly written and directed with his wife, Shan Dandan.

Last year, the film received both the Grand Jury Prize and the Best Screenplay award at the 17th FIRST International Film Festival, one of the most significant events for emerging directors in China.

Having opened in theaters on March 30, the film revolves around two novice scriptwriters struggling to get their film green-lit. Their script is based on the life of character with a memory as fleeting as that of a fish, and their aim is to attract investors, but also ensure they maintain creative control.

During their journey, fraught with challenges, the duo — who are also close friends sharing a rented apartment in eastern Beijing — encounter many hurdles, ranging from being deceived, repeatedly revising their work based on empty promises, to enduring the overbearing attitudes of financiers who possess little understanding of artistic creation.

A poster for the film. [Photo provided to China Daily]
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