Written and directed by Khaou and produced by Dominic Buchanan, Lilting is the eighth film from the successful feature film fund Film London Microwave. Alongside Whishaw and Pei Pei, the film also stars Peter Bowles (Blow-Up, The Bank Job), Morven Christie (House of 9, The Young Victoria) and Andrew Leung (The List).
As part of Film London Microwave’s mentorship component, award-winning film-maker Michael Winterbottom acted as writer/director Khaou’s mentor, while producer Buchanan received guidance and support from his mentor Ken Marshall, the producer of London to Brighton, Filth and Song for Marion.
Curzon Film World’s Artificial Eye is known for its discerning taste in the best of European and world cinema. The label has released more winners of the Cannes Palme d'Or than any other UK distributor, with titles including The Class (2008) and The White Ribbon (2009).
Commercially-minded and creatively-spirited Protagonist Pictures is an international sales company committed to strong relationships with film-makers. Recent highlights in their catalogue include Searching for Sugar Man, Sightseers, The Imposter and Microwave’s Shifty. This year at Cannes they represent The Selfish Giant by Clio Barnard, screening in Directors’ Fortnight, and in the Critics’ Week, Paul Wright’s debut feature For Those In Peril.
Lilting tells the story of a Chinese mother (Pei Pei) as she grieves for her son (Leung) following his untimely death. He was her eyes and ears in the UK, their adopted country, and without him she is stranded. The only person left is his lover (Whishaw) – who she knows only as his flat mate. Together they are forced to overcome their differences and unite in sorrow whilst struggling against the absence of a shared language. An intimate and thoughtful film, Lilting addresses overcoming cultural and generational boundaries, the power of memory, and the lifelines and relationships formed in the face of grief.
Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: “Lilting is a moving cinematic achievement and I am delighted that it will reach UK audiences through Curzon Film World and that Protagonist will be managing international sales. It is a testament to Microwave’s innovative approach to film-making that its projects attract high-calibre talent and prestigious commercial distributors and sales agents. The scheme’s successful track record is also a result of the Microwave team, who are integral to nurturing and guiding all our film-makers. I am proud to see another Microwave feature proving itself in the commercial marketplace and hope this is only the start of Lilting’s success.”
Louisa Dent, Managing Director of Curzon Film World said: "When we read the script, it was clear that this was something special. There is an emotional urgency that is compelling and honest. Hong is a real emerging talent and his short films marked him out. We knew that the Microwave/Film London team would be great partners on this and with a quality cast it seemed liked a perfect fit for us.”
Mike Goodridge, CEO of Protagonist Pictures said: “I had admired Hong's shorts so it was with great excitement that I watched his first feature Lilting. But Hong exceeds expectations: the film is an accomplished and mature portrait of love and loss, graced by two extraordinary lead performances. The whole Protagonist team was knocked out by it and we are confident it will be embraced by distributors around the world.”
Funded by Film London Microwave, additional finance came from production companies Stink Films and Andy Brunskill’s recently launched SUMS Film and Media Ltd., supported by financier/producer Bob & Co, Lim Kay Sui and Neo Swee Lin.
Film London Microwave is a unique training-through-production scheme delivered in partnership with BBC Films and with support from Creative Skillset. Challenging London-based film-makers to shoot a feature film for up to £120,000, Film London Microwave enables talent to thrive in a limited budget with its integrated training programme which offers crucial guidance and mentoring throughout the film-making process.
The Film London Microwave team is made up of Creative Producer Mia Bays, who also acts as the Distribution/Marketing Consultant and Mike Kelly, Business and Finance Producer, alongside Film London’s Talent Development Manager Kevin Dolan and Development and Production Officer Tessa Inkelaar. Film London will soon be appointing a new Head of Talent Development and Production, who will head up the Microwave team.
Encompassing training and development from script to screen and beyond, Film London Microwave has enjoyed excellent results. Last year saw the successful UK theatrical releases of Ben Drew’s iLL Manors, released by Revolver, and Frances Lea’s Strawberry Fields, released through Soda Pictures’ New British Cinema Quarterly programme. Other films produced through the scheme include the BAFTA-nominated Shifty, award-winning horror Mum & Dad, documentary The British Guide to Showing Off, teen drama Freestyle and the yet to be release Borrowed Time which was awarded Best in Fest at the 2012 Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Launched in 2006, Microwave is the acclaimed micro-budget feature film scheme set up by Film London with BBC Films, with support from Creative Skillset. Committed to discovering and investing in emerging London-based film-makers, Microwave backs talented teams with fresh voices and strong stories. A unique ‘apprenticeship’ scheme, it provides an intensive approach to film-making with the emphasis on original ideas, tightly focussed scripts and short production schedules. Film-makers are supported by an extensive training and mentoring programme from development, through production, all the way to the film’s release in the UK and internationally.
In pre production:
Seekers Written by Arinze Kene, directed by Nicole Volavka and produced by Rob Watson.
A thriller set in the world of London's underclass. An African single mother finds new happiness with Jean-Baptiste, a refugee from Rwanda, and their struggle to survive in the big city eases. But a chance sighting of a ghost from the past exposes long buried traumas, which puts their lives in danger and everything they have is threatened.
Mum & Dad (2008) Directed & written by Steven Sheil and produced by Lisa Trnovski. Released Boxing Day 2008 in the UK and Mother’s Day 2009 in North America courtesy of Revolver Entertainment
Shifty (2008) Directed & written by Eran Creevy and produced by Rory Aitken and Ben Pugh. Released on 24 April 2009 in the UK courtesy of Metrodome Distribution. Shifty received a BAFTA nomination for the Carl Foreman Award (Best Debut) in 2010 and 5 BIFA nominations in 2008
Freestyle (2009) a teen romance based around the world of freestyle basketball, directed by Kolton Lee and produced by Lincia Daniel. Released in London and key cities by Revolver in February 2010 and became the first Microwave film to receive a theatrical release in the US through Phase 4
The British Guide to Showing Off, director Jes Benstock’s Alternative Miss World documentary produced by Dorigen Hammond. Distributed by Verve Pictures in autumn 2011
Strawberry Fields, directed by Frances Lea and produced by Liam Beatty and Lucie Wenigerova, is an intense rites of passage film bursting with energy, sex and humour set during a perfect English summer. It received its World Premiere at the 55th BFI London Film Festival and released by Soda Pictures on 6 July
iLL Manors, written and directed by Ben Drew and produced by Atif Ghani
A unique crime thriller set on the unforgiving streets of London, following six disparate lives, all struggling to survive the circles of violence that engulf them. Released by Revolver on 8 June 2012
Borrowed Time, a bittersweet comedy about growing up and rediscovering youth, written and directed by Jules Bishop and produced by Olivier Kaempfer, starring Philip Davis, Theo Barklem-Biggs and Perry Benson. The film received its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June 2012 and is set for release in 2013.
Lilting Written and directed by Hong Khaou and produced by Dominic Buchanan
Starring Ben Whishaw and Cheng Pei Pei, Lilting is an intimate and thoughtful film about communication, falling in love and forming relationships without a common language. A mother’s attempt at understanding who her son is after his untimely death, her emotions are stirred up by presence of his partner.
The Film London Microwave team includes Kevin Dolan, Talent Development Manager, Tessa Inkelaar, Development and Production Officer, Creative Producer Mia Bays, who also acts as the Distribution/Marketing Consultant, and Mike Kelly, Business and Finance Producer.
Film London, as the capital’s film and media agency, aims to ensure London has a thriving film sector that enriches the city’s businesses and its people. The agency works with all the screen industries to sustain, promote and develop London as a major international production and film cultural capital, and it supports the development of the city’s new and emerging film-making talent. Film London is funded by the Mayor of London, the National Lottery through the BFI, and receives significant support from Arts Council England and Creative Skillset.
BBC Films is the feature filmmaking arm of the BBC. It aims to make strong British films with range and ambition, bringing the best of British talent to audiences. BBC Films is firmly established at the forefront of British independent filmmaking and co-produces around eight films a year, working in partnership with major international and UK distributors. Christine Langan is the Head of BBC Films, responsible for the development and production slate, strategy and business operations.
Recent releases include Sally Potter’s reflection on troubled friendship Ginger and Rosa currently in cinemas, Ol Parker’s teen romance Now is Good, Fernando Meirelles’ stylish and contemporary drama 360, James Marsh’s heart-wrenching thriller Shadow Dancer, Julien Temple’s documentary feature London – The Modern Babylon, Lasse Hallström’s romantic comedy Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Max and Dania’s kinetic 3D film StreetDance 2, Ralph Fiennes’ contemporary Shakespeare adaptation Coriolanus, Simon Curtis’ comedy drama My Week with Marilyn, Nick Murphy’s supernatural mystery The Awakening, Lynne Ramsay’s adaptation of the Winner for the Orange Prize for Fiction We Need to Talk About Kevin, David Mackenzie’s romantic thriller Perfect Sense, Cary Fukunaga’s modern retelling of Jane Eyre, and James Marsh’s moving documentary Project Nim.
Forthcoming films include Mike Newell’s sumptuous Dickens classic Great Expectations in cinemas 30 November and Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut, the wickedly comic Quartet, which will be in cinemas 4 January 2013, and in March Terri Hooley biopic Good Vibrations from directors Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn will feature in cinemas. Also set for a Spring release is Nick Murphy’s gripping thriller Blood.
BBC Films has an impressive back catalogue, which includes titles such as Nigel Cole’s Made in Dagenham, Lone Scherfig’s Academy Award® nominated and BAFTA award-winning An Education; Armando Iannucci’s Academy Award® and BAFTA award-nominated In the Loop; Jane Campion’s Academy Award®nominated Bright Star; and Andrea Arnold’s BAFTA award-winning Fish Tank.