Music Box, the posthumous movie of Chinese painter Chen Yifei, will be released on the Chinese mainland on April 28 despite an array of setbacks since shooting began three years ago.
Based on Fan Yiping's novel The Barber, the tragicomic film tells of an ordinary barber in turmoil during World War II and the subsequent Chinese civil war.
Shooting began on November 27, 2002 but soon ceased due to dissension among the working group. It resumed on February 15, 2005 with a different leading actor and actress but Chen passed away on April 10. It was finished by Chen's friend See-Yuen Ng, a Hong Kong director.
However, the film's release date had been up in the air because of disputes among Chen's family and among the film's investors, with reports of the film never being released. But Zhai Yingyu, who is in charge of the film's promotion in China, told Xinhua News Agency on Tuesday that the Shanghai Film Group (SFG) has assumed the role of distributor, which has been decided by the four investors including the SFG.
"The plan to release it on the first anniversary of Chen's death was cancelled because the copies, being made overseas, will miss the date," Zhai said, adding, "The SFG has decided to launch more than 200 copies nationwide on April 28, which is near the golden period of the seven-day holiday from May 1."
The movie will have a commemorative showing in Shanghai on April 9, she said.
Before turning to film in the early 1990s, Chen had already gained renown for his rich oil paintings portraying daily life in a style he called romantic realism. He later found success in New York, and in 1992, Christie's auctioned his Lingering Melodies from the Xunyang River for US$176,282, then a world record price for a Chinese oil painting at auction.
Returning to Shanghai, he opened a trendy restaurant and branched into businesses ranging from magazines and a clothing line to film production and a modeling agency.
He is known for his harmonious combination of Chinese and western techniques in oil painting, fashion design, advertising and film.
(Xinhua News Agency March 29, 2006)