Weinstein Company Announces Asian Film Fund

August 8, 2007

Apprehensive. . . I suppose that is the best way to describe my immediate reaction to the recent announcement that the Weinstein Brothers have launched a $285 million fund to invest in Asian film. (Here’s a link to the announcement for more details.)

Undoubtedly, it is thanks to folks like the Weinsteins and Quentin Tarentino (who is also heavily involved with this project) that Western audiences have had access to so many of the great Asian films that have come out in recent years. I have loved these films and should just be happy that several new similarly-themed films will be making their way into the pipeline.

On the other hand, a very large part of why I like foreign films – beyond the rather obvious reason that they offer a glimpse at other cultures – is that they are so not Hollywood, for lack of a better way to express it.  Much as people flock to indie films for the same reason, these films offer different perspectives than those normally offered in the mainstream American releases. Thus, it must give one pause when an annoucement like this one comes out, particularly when they’re saying that part of the intent of the new venture will be to add a “Western sensibility” to these Asian-themed films. Even though so much of the Weinsteins’ work with Miramax over the years demonstrated that they are not afraid of taking chances and going against the norm, it still makes one nervous to see that the rumored film possibilities being explored include a remake of the Kurosawa classic Seven Samurai and a live action version of Mulan, and that many actors being rumored to be involved include several notable non-Asian actors (I saw George Clooney’s name floating around in one article).

And so, while happy to see Asian cinema getting some of its much deserved recognition and that some more great films in the same vein might soon be coming out, this whole project does somewhat resemble mere exploitation of existing ideas by a Hollywood struggling to come up with its own original thoughts. With the talented names involved in these films, hopefully the results will be good. I just think it’s too early to tell and that there are certainly some reasons for concern. 

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