Singapore has chosen Ilker Anthony Chen’s Chinese coming-of-age drama The breaking ice as an entry for the 2024 Oscars in the best international feature film category. The film had its world premiere in May in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival The Hollywood Reporter‘s critics later selected it as one of the twenty best films shown at the prestigious French festival this year.
Made with a mainly Chinese cast and crew, The breaking ice tells the story of an unlikely, volatile friendship between three restless young people in Yanji, China’s far northeastern border town. The headliner is a star-studded ensemble of young Chinese talent, including Zhou Dongyu (Oscar-nominated Better days), Liu Haoran (Detective Chinatown franchise) and Qu Chuxiao (The Wandering Earth). Described as a Generation Z drama, the film’s story follows the blossoming friendship of the three main characters as they discover warmth in their shared isolation during a weekend in the winter snow. the process. It was Chen’s first feature film shot entirely in mainland China, a project that took him far outside his creative comfort zone. In an interview with THRChen described the film as his “love letter” to China’s restless youth.
The breaking ice is Chen’s third attempt at being selected as Singapore’s entry for the Best International Film category at the Oscars. His feature film debut Ilo Ilo was selected ten years ago and his successor, Wet seasonwas presented in 2021. Neither film made the Oscars shortlist, but both titles were celebrated on the festival circuit (Ilo Ilo won the Cannes Caméra d’Or award). Last year, Singapore selected He Shuming’s drama Ajooma for the Oscars. That film, the first-ever co-production between Singapore and Korea, was also produced by Chen.
THR‘s chief critic praised The breaking ice after the Cannes premiere, he writes: “Chen returns here to the softer observational style and hushed intimacy of his beautiful domestic drama, Ilo Ilo… Rich in feeling but never emotionally emphatic, The breaking ice has an uncluttered narrative simplicity that is reflected in the shooting style and nicely offset by the nuanced complexity of the relationships.”
He added: “The characters in the new film – a woman and two men in their twenties, played with exquisite restraint by three attractive, impeccably naturalistic actors – are struck by grief, frustrations and fears that are rarely put into words, but their many moments of introspection reveal just as much. as they abstain.”
Strand Releasing is planning a theatrical release The breaking ice in North America in late 2023 or early 2024. International sales of the title will be handled by Rediance. Chen co-produced the film with Meng Xie under their banner Canopy Pictures. The film was released in Singapore cinemas on September 7 by Golden Village Pictures. It opened in mainland China on August 22 and has grossed about $3.5 million (RMB 26 million), according to data from ticketing app Maoyan.