Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Shunji Iwai to return to the directing chair for a vampire film shot in Vancouver

by Chris MaGee

I went to one of those big box bookstores with my nieces and nephews recently and marveled at how many spin-offs, rip-offs, tie-ins, and general vampires related young adult novels were piled on the shelves. I say spin-offs because this tsunami of vampire kids-lit comes on the heels of the massive success of author Stephenie Meyer's series of "Twilight" books. I'm not even mentioning the cross over products like t-shirts, book bags, dolls, etc. they had in stock. Between "Twilight" and the adult TV series "True Blood" vampires have been enjoying the kind of popularity that's eluded them since Ann Rice's books were published in the 70's and 80's. Of course the vampire phenomena has shifted from the printed page to the movie screen and now art house distributors Fortissimo Films (along with Convergence Entertainment) will be jumping on the vampire bandwagon with a new film directed by a filmmaker we were doubtful would ever helm a feature again.

Screen Daily (via Nippon Cinema) is reporting that Shunji Iwai will be directing an English-language vampire film set to begin production in Vancouver this May. No title for the film has been announced yet, nor has there ben an indication as to who is writing the screenplay, but apparently Japanese actress Yu Aoi, who previously starred in Iwai's films "All About Lily Chou-Chou" and "Hana and Alice", will be starring alongside Amanda Plummer and Kevin Zegers (Trans America). Zegers is actually still in negotiations for the role of the vampire, a shy young man who trolls the internet chatting up lonely women in an attempt to win them over before he drains their blood.

This project will be the second English-language film for Iwai who previously directed Orlando Bloom and Christina Ricci in a segment for last year's omnibus film "New York, I Love You". Given that that film did poorly at the box office and that Iwai has been involved with some artistically dodgy projects as of late like a music video by girl super group AKB48 and a possible "The Fast and the Furious"-style film with Ryuhei Kitamura this news comes as a light at the end of the tunnel. Iwai has an eye for the moody and the lush, so the idea of him applying his talents to an art house spin on the vampire genre (involving boys that don't sparkle, thank you) could actually work really well. More news on this as it comes out.

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