Singaporean director Eric Khoo has unveiled fresh details on his new film Spirit World, which is currently shooting in Japan with Catherine Deneuve in the lead role, and also unveiled Goodfellas as the international sales agent.
Paris-based sales company Goodfellas will launch the film at the EFM. ARP Sélection has acquired French rights.
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Deneuve plays legendary singer Claire who flies to Japan for a final sold-out concert, but as the show comes to an end so does her worldly life.
She then arrives in the spirit world where she embarks on a journey to find the humanity in the afterlife that eluded her on earth, guided by Yuzo, one of her biggest fans.
Deneuve is joined in the cast by Masaaki Sakai (best known to international audiences as the star of the 1970s hit show Monkey), Yutaka Takenouchi (Shin Godzilla) and Jun Fubuki.
Khoo, whose recent credits include the HBO Asia Original horror Folklore, has released a statement on the inspiration for the film.
“I have always dreamt about making a film where spirits would take on the lead roles and shine out a ray of hope – a spiritual epiphany,” he said, alluding to the figure of a fleeting ghost father in his 1995 first film Mee Pok Man as well as the spectre parents in Ramen Shop (2018).
“Having grown up on a steady diet of Twilight Zone during my formative years and falling in love with the simple love stories of yesteryear I thought: wouldn’t it be romantic if two lonely souls could find love in death – in the spirit world?,” he said.
“I have always wondered about that Bardo state where either the spirits roam the earth before they ascend or are destined to be earthbound for eternity. What determines the ultimate outcome? This is an unanswerable question that has consistently occupied my imagination.”
He revealed that music had also played an central role.
“Music has always been my fuel and inspiration for my creative process and I want it to be the core of this film where our two musical souls compose a song together that they had been unable to achieve in their living years. Through destiny and karma, these two strangers come together to shine a light to a struggling, broken individual who has lost his way,” he said.
Khoo’s son Edward wrote the screenplay.
“Together with my son, Edward, it has been a heartfelt, inspiring journey watching films together during the COVID-19 pandemic, listening to the music of the Beach Boys and talking about guardian angels and how to make a film consisting of these disparate and yet harmonious elements,” said Khoo, of their collaboration.
Khoo is producing the film under the banner of his Singapore based Zhao Wei Films, in coproduction with French company M.I. Movies as well as Japan’s Fourier Films, Knockonwood Inc. and Wild Orange Artists.
Prolific iconic French actress Deneuve was seen most recently in Léa Domenach’s directorial debut comedy Bernadette, in the role of presidential wife Bernadette Chirac.
The project is supported by the Singapore Film Commission, Takasaki City and Isumi City.
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