‘Manta Ray’ Star Wanlop Rungkumjad Heads Cast of Taiwan Drama Film ‘Mongrel,’ Screening at IFFR Darkroom (EXCLUSIVE)

“Mongrel,” a Taiwan-set drama film that has done the round of project markets, will appear at the International Film Festival Rotterdam as a work in progress.

In addition to the screening of 15 minutes of footage, Taiwan-based Singaporean director Chiang Wei Liang has confirmed the film’s cast as being headed by Thai actor Wanlop Rungkumjad (“Eternity,” “Manta Ray”) alongside Taiwanese female actor Lu Yi-ching (“The River”, “Stray Dogs”) and rapper Hong Yu-hong (“Bad Education”, “Miss Shampoo”) from Taiwanese hip-hop group Nine One One. Other key cast include Atchara Suwan (“By the Time It Gets Dark”), and Guo Shu-wei in his debut role.

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Set in the mountains of Taiwan, the film follows Rungkumjad’s character Oom, an undocumented migrant and on-demand caregiver for rural families, who struggles to preserve his humanity as he cares for the elderly and disabled.

The project, which represents Chiang’s debut feature film, was previously developed at TorinoFilmLab ScriptLab, Talents Tokyo and the Cannes Residence, where it received the CNC Development Award.

“Mongrel” is produced by Lai Weijie and Elizabeth Wijaya from E&W Films, Lynn Chen and Chu Yun-ting for Taiwan’s Le Petit Jardin, and Marie Dubas from France’s Deuxième Ligne Films (“Taste,” “Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell”). Executive producers include Taiwan New Wave vanguards Hou Hsiao-hsien and Liao Ching-sung, who are on board the project since its inception.

Completion is anticipated in the second or third quarter of 2024. The film is currently without sales representation and during the IFFR Pro’s Darkroom Work-In-Progress segment the filmmakers will be looking for a sales deal and establishing festival plans.

E&W’s previous films “Taste,” Kirsten Tan’s Sundance prize-winner “Pop Aye,” and “Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash” were respectively represented by Wild Bunch, Cercamon and The Match Factory.

“Drawing from my own experiences and the stories of countless others from the Southeast Asian community I have encountered over the past decade in Taiwan, ‘Mongrel’ is a continuation of my concern for the precarious lives in the liminal spaces of Taiwanese society. It weaves together two things that are deeply personal to me: the physical and emotional toll that palliative care extracts from the caregiver, and the paradox of hired help that is both depended upon and distrusted,” said Chiang.

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