A true picture of turning Liu's fiction into film

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The film blockbuster Back to 1942 now in theaters marks the third time author Liu Zhenyun has teamed up with black comedy director Feng Xiaogang.

Their cooperation started in 1995, when Feng turned Liu's short story Chicken Feathers Everywhere about a civil servant who comes to terms with life's boring and messy realities into a 10-episode TV drama.

In 2003, they worked together on Cell Phone, a film that illustrates the device's influences on human relationships. It's rife with Liu's black humor and Feng's street smarts. The movie was that year's box office champion.

Back to 1942 is a 19-year dream come true for the duo.

Feng has wanted to turn the novella into a film since he read it in 1993. As he puts it: "It refreshes our understanding of our race."

But it took years to prepare because the story deals with sensitive topics, forgotten history and human nature's dark side.

Feng has declared plans to make more films with Liu.

Liu also worked with director Ma Liwen to adapt his 2007 novel, My Name Is Liu Yuejin, into the film Lost and Found.

The plot follows a cook as he searches for a lost bag. Along the way, he encounters prostitutes, thieves, killers, corrupt officials, a real estate tycoon and an undercover cop.

Liu's broad familiarity with urban society's many facets and his sensibilities have rendered the film as a vivid picture of contemporary China.

The author sometimes makes cameos in films, such as in Feng's The Dream Factory in 1997 and Ma's Desires of the Heart in 2008.

Liu won the Mao Dun Literature Prize in 2011 for his 2008 novel One Sentence Is Worth Thousands about one man's search for someone to talk to. He has been celebrated for his dark humor and clear observations about ordinary people since his first book Tanpu Township was published in 1989.

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