Filmart: Meet Hong Kong’s Latest Superhero (and He’s Made of Poop)

For a world grown weary of familiar superheroes, fear not! A new hero is on the way — and he’s made out of poop.

The Excreman — On the Road is the working title of a new production from Hong Kong’s Bliss Concepts, the company that produced the massive McDull franchise in the early 2000s, and it’s been among the most talked about productions at this year’s Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) program.

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“It’s a story about life in the sewer, and how the creatures there are fighting to survive,” says producer and Bliss Concepts general manager Samuel Choy. “They create an Exreman hero to save them but when he becomes human he discovers life among the humans is the same as it was in the sewers.”

My Life as McDull was a huge hit in Hong Kong and across Asia in 2001, winning awards at home and abroad and collecting an estimated HK$14 million ($1.8 million) from the domestic box office. It followed the travails of a lovable little pig as he chased his dream of becoming an athletic champion, and it spawned two sequels, countless toys and an exhibition that continues to travel the world to this day.

The Excreman — On the Road charts another course entirely.

“We hope this can share universal themes and make people think about how human beings always want to destroy things, even their poo,” said Choy.

All told, there are 26 in-development projects and 15 works-in-progress (WIP) featured at this year’s edition of HAF, alongside a freshly launched HKIFF Industry-CAA China Genre Initiative that’s presenting five Chinese-language genre projects.

Represented is a diverse array of Asian filmmaking talent, from first-timers to seasoned veterans.

Director Jiang Xiaoxuan has her first feature film in HAF’s WIP program, and the Inner Mongolian-born and raised filmmaker has trained her cameras — and her story — on a tale that’s close to home.

'To Kill A Mongolian Horse' Still 2
‘To Kill A Mongolian Horse’

To Kill A Mongolian Horse follows a horseman struggling to come to terms with contradictions between the life he pursues playing a heroic cavalryman in front of tourists with the one he lives at home, where his traditional culture is coming under threat.

“Everyone is here and everything is happening all at once,” says Jiang, whose script was developed during 30 daily breakfast script-writing workshops under the guidance of Malaysian director-producer Tan Chui Mui (Barbarian Invasion). “Tan decided to help as she really liked the script. We’d like to think it’s a setting that’s never been seen in international cinema, in Inner Mongolia. It’s a look inside another side of Mongolian masculinity, one that exists outside the legends.”

Veteran Japanese arthouse favorite Koji Fukada (winner of the Cannes’ Jury Prize in 2016 for Harmonium) meanwhile has Nagi Notes in HAF’s in-development program, a tale of three women, all single and all at different stages of their lives, who are drawn together to a rural village.

“We hope to shoot next spring and like Au revoir l’été [2015] it will be a kind of homage to Éric Rohmer and this will be the same style,” explains the film’s producer, Osanai Terutaro. “We are shooting in Nagi, a real village, and the landscape is very similar to Europe. We think people everywhere will relate to the story, and the village it is set in.”

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