Artist and Hong Kong-based experimental filmmaker Scud is to retire from filmmaking leave the city after completing his two final features. These have been licensed for North American distribution by Breaking Glass Pictures.
A license deal for rights to “Apostles” and “Bodyshop” was struck by Breaking Glass Pictures and Artwalker, the production company through which the auteur’s entire movie career has been channeled. Breaking Glass is planning a limited theatrical this Fall for “Apostles” and a limited theatrical release in the fourth quarter of 2022 for “Bodyshop.”
“After 16 years, I’m quitting the active pursuit of filmmaking. What remains in my career will be the distribution of ‘Bodyshop’ and ‘Apostles,’ my 8th and 9th film made, and a project I started for a trilogy about the lockdown era, as well as ‘Naked Nation’ that I wrote a decade ago about the Chinese culture and history based on my family, the making of which are indefinite. It’s been like an eternal dream inevitably waking up to the dire reality. One last film before leaving Hong Kong potentially for good. Everything is earmarked for completing by July,” Scud said in a statement.
Scud is the adopted name of Guangzhou, China-born Danny Cheng Wan-Cheung. He spent some twenty years in IT and achieved permanent residence in Australia in 2001.
“Unique, bold, original, and always challenging, Scud has always been a visionary filmmaker and his latest work is his most daring yet”, said Rich Wolff, Breaking Glass CEO. “Breaking Glass is thrilled to bring these films to North American audiences.” The company has handled all of Scud’s previous film titles: “Amphetamine,” “City Without Baseball,” “Love Actually…Sucks!,” “Voyage,” “Utopians,” and “Adonis.”
In “Apostles,” a scholar claiming to be an apostle to Socrates and Plato, finds it hard to face his end. With the help of his wife and his ex-partner’s family, he recruits 12 young men to come to his secluded manor to pursue the exploration of death. Philosophical discussions aside, the practices encompass climbing the volcanic summit of Mt. Fuji, bondage, sexual activities, and even living sacrifice. Throughout it all, these thrilling experiences are filmed, leaving everyone involved facing life changing revelations. “Apostles” stars Bank Chuang, Teslin, Wei Kai Huang, Qiji Chen, Christopher Tsang, Adrian Heung, Amanda Lee, Jach Chow, and Adonis He.
“Bodyshop” follows the ghost of a young soldier, who bids farewell to his mother and travels the world to see his transgender sister. By possessing living bodies, he meddles with the romances of unfaithful lovers along the way in Taiwan, Japan, Spain and Thailand. He meets a soul mate amid the massive protests of Hong Kong and they take shelter in a disguised garage, where human bodies are treated in a way beyond moral limits. “Bodyshop” stars Simon Tam, Tank Liu, Lina Tsai, Nicky Bunyarit, Daniel Benjamin, Adonis He, Christopher Tsang, Karen Huang.
Scud told Variety that his retirement and exit from Hong Kong has a multitude of reasons, ranging from the economic to the political.
“The markets for indie films have shrunk to unsustainable levels. And the two years without theatrical screening opportunities in my home markets of Taiwan and Hong Kong took the toll,” he said. “I [also] have a feeling that my style, if once liked by academic and festivals, has drifted further away from them, or them away from me.”
The changing political context in which the media, communications and entertainment industries operate in Hong Kong is also a push factor. “The new censorship reality of Hong Kong renders production here risky, also to my actors and crew,” he said.
Hong Kong witnessed a narrowing of political freedoms in recent years, accelerated by the introduction of a National Security Law in mid-2020 and the injection of security concerns into the film censorship system. Numerous politicians, activists, entertainers and journalists have been arrested, while others have departed the territory.
“Sixteen years and ten films (or nine if the current one cannot be made) is not too bad as the filmography of an ever struggling filmmaker,” SCUD added. “I’ve given my all and feel the exhaustions in all aspects, with nothing feasible for me to aspire for. I was also inspired by the retirement of Ashley Barty, my countrywoman [and] an invincible tennis player.”