China's 'Blair Witch' goes to Cannes

(China.org.cn)
Updated: 2017-05-18 10:07:21

A new poster of The Possessed is released for Cannes screening. [Photo/China.org.cn]

Pseudo-documentary thriller The Possessed by young director Ma Kai will make its world premiere at the 70th Cannes Film Festival, producers said on Wednesday.

The film, dubbed as China's The Blair Witch Project, was only made with a budget of 70,000 yuan (about $10,000) while interesting enough, all the cast and crew are made of extra actors and normal individuals like housing agents, electric welders, restaurant workers and broadcasters. The director himself is actually a senior high school graduate and part-time actor working in Hengdian World Studios, Zhejiang province.

It was screened for the first time and stood out at the FIRST Film Festival Xining 2016. Using its documentary style to explore the superstitions of rural areas, the film is able to build tension by secretly shooting and following the characters, and features a number of twists and turns.

Many who had seen the film are calling it "the best domestic thriller in a decade" and "really scary." After winning praise at FIRST, Ma has become one of the most sought after independent directors.

Tencent Pictures has acquired The Possessed and team up with another eight producers including Wanda Pictures, Joy Pictures and ticketing giant Maoyan to promote the low-budget yet unique film. Producers have spent extra money to hire professional crew to reshoot parts of the film and upgrade its sound effects, in order to make it better.

The film is set for a 2017 release with no date confirmed yet, but it may well be a dark horse in the Chinese market.

The Cannes film festival runs from May 17 - 28.

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