As the company matures, however, it is “adjusting,” Cao explained. “We’re starting to take things on even if a movie isn’t our absolute favorite but it rounds out our slate in an interesting way.”
New titles on deck include “All About ING,” currently in post-production, which depicts the daily life of an ordinary Cantonese family in which the father is diagnosed with cancer right as his son is about to go abroad for college; and thriller “In Search of Echo,” the first feature film by director Zhang Chi, recently selected to compete in the Moscow Intl. Film Festival.
Under the name Parallax Films, it also is involved in international sales and distribution. Hangzhou-based Chinese production company Midnight Blur Films is poised to make a splash as it attends Filmart for the first time this year, with three titles selected for HAF and three others screening in the market, two of which will compete in the HKIFF.
“Our background is quite unique. “We are perhaps not quite like the other companies who put commercial value first. When we decide whether or not to work with a film, our first thoughts are still definitely coming more from a critic’s perspective.” We’re coming entirely from a background outside the film industry but because we started with criticism, I think we can be more daring,” Cao told Variety.
These two films and a third, “Ode to the Goose,” will have market screenings during HAF. “Vanishing Days,” the first title the company produced, and “3 Adventures of Brooke,” which stars veteran French actor Pascal Greggory, were selected to take part in the Young Cinema Competition at the Hong Kong Intl. The latter, by Korean-Chinese director Zhang Lu, premiered at Busan last year. Film Festival this year.
The three first started a WeChat account for criticism called DeepFocus, which has since become one of China’s major platforms for such writing. The company was co-founded by Cao Liuying, Zhao Jin and Xu Jiahan, academics in literature, philosophy and anthropology, respectively, who met in 2015 while studying abroad in Europe.
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DeepFocus continues to operate via a separate, mostly volunteer, team, but the company also leverages it as a channel to promote its own projects. The firm has one full-time employee in Beijing and several working part-time in New York, Paris and Tokyo.
A year and a half later, their current Hangzhou-based investor Hangzhou East Wave Group asked them to move down to Zhejiang province, where that company name was already taken — thus leading to their second moniker, Midnight Blur.
Three of the 23 projects selected to participate in HAF this year are produced by Midnight Blur, accounting for half of the projects invited from China. They include “Who Is Sleeping on My Pillow?,” “12×4” and “The Priest in the Village.”
The trio became more interested in getting involved in the film industry after attending foreign festivals. No Problem” (directed by Mei Feng) and “The Summer Is Gone” (directed by Zhang Dalei). In 2016, the group was hired to do promotion for black-and-white Chinese arthouse films “Mr. Other such projects eventually led them to set up Parallax, registering it in Beijing.

Variety has had exclusive access to the trailer and film poster. Written and helmed by Iranian-born Mexico City resident Bani Khoshnoudi, “Fireflies” turns on a young gay Iranian who finds himself stranded in Vera Cruz, Mexico after boarding the wrong cargo ship in Turkey. After escaping persecution in Iran, he now faces a different set of challenges, including a new language, customs and relationships.
"We are fortunate to be working with Bani; she’s a rising star,” said FiGa Films’ Sandro Fiorin, adding: “ ‘Fireflies’ is such a unique Mexican film; it’s a reflection of her background and multiple talents.”
Khoshnoudi also cites “Survival of the Fireflies,” a book by Georges Didi-Huberman who suggested that fireflies were individual beings creating light and interconnecting with each other.
Khoshnoudi describes it as a “psychological pursuit of memory and menace,” starring Italian-Iranian actress Maya Sansa and Iranian thesp Hamid Javdan. To be filmed in Paris, “Guard” is a political thriller set in the early 2000s.
Athina Tsangari of Haos Film (Greece) as well as Israel Cardenas and Laura Amelia Guzmán of Aurora Dominicana (Dominican Republic), serve as co-producers.
The title “Fireflies” is inspired by a 1975 op-ed by the late Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini who described “the state of fascism and cultural resistance in Italy at the time, creating a metaphor for resistance as the disappearance of fireflies, said Khoshnoudi.
Backed by the Hubert Bals Fund Plus Europe, Ibermedia and Imcine funds, “Fireflies” is co-produced by an international set of players led by Mexico’s Elsa Reyes of Zensky Cine and Khoshnoudi’s Pensee Sauvage Films.
“My characters are like these fireflies, resisting, surviving, making their light alone and in tune with others, yet remaining all the while invisible,” Khoshnoudi mused.
21 and competes with nine others in Morelia’s official Mexican feature film category. Drama world premieres on Sunday, Oct. Miami-based FiGa Films has snared all rights to “Fireflies” (“Luciernagas”), its first acquisition on the eve of the 16th Morelia Int’l Film Festival.
20-28.” /> The 16th Morelia Int’l Film Festival runs over Oct.
France’s Janja Kralj (KinoElektron), with whom Khoshnoudi is developing her next feature film, “Guard,” is an associate producer.
“What used to be the most important port of entry into Latin America has this special aura about it: Exotic, sexy, nostalgic, and full of traces of this exile background,” she said, citing a similar story of an Iraqi immigrant who ended up in Vera Cruz after boarding the wrong ship.
“The particular story of Ramin was something I came up with in the wake of the 2009 revolt in Iran, and the fresh exodus of youth, especially marginalized groups such as LGBTQ, who were fleeing the renewed repression,” said Khoshnoudi who moved to Mexico in 2009 and lists the port city of Vera Cruz as one of the first places she visited in the country.
“Fireflies” won the Cine + Prize at the Films in Progress pix-in-post competition in Toulouse 2018.

Founder Paula Wallace.
This year's 13 honorees are Richard Gere (Lifetime Achievement Award), Zoey Deutch (Rising Star Award), Mariska Hargitay (Humanitarian Award), Ashley Judd (Virtuoso Award), Kyra Sedgwick (Spotlight Award), Andrea Riseborough (Outstanding Supporting Actress Award for "Battle of the Sexes"), and Willow Shields (Rising Star Award), joining previously announced honorees John Boyega, Salma Hayek Pinault, Holly Hunter, Robert Pattinson, Aaron Sorkin and Patrick Stewart.
The Georgia festival will begin with the opening night gala screening of Sorkin's "Molly's Game," and the festival's centerpiece gala screening will feature Greta Gerwig's "Lady Bird."
The 17 films with Gala Screenings in this year's festival include "I, Tonya," "The Shape of Water," "Downsizing," and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." Other films like "Logan," "Battle of the Sexes," and "The Big Sick" are part of the Signature Series screenings and will feature Q&A sessions with directors, actors, producers, and writers. The SCAD Savannah Film Festival highlights films it considers to be awards contenders.
4. This year's festival will show 131 films, including 33 narrative films, 16 documentaries, and 82 shorts and will run from Oct. 28 to Nov.
Film Festival, guests and industry greats alike see that the best is yet to come,” said SCAD President and
“For 20 years, SCAD has celebrated the best of the best in film, and each year at the SCAD Savannah
The Savannah College of Art and Design has announced the honorees and film lineup for the 20th SCAD Savannah Film Festival.
The Savannah College of Art and Design has seen more than 8,100 students go into animation, film, broadcast and other entertainment jobs.” />