A Taiwanese filmmaker has become a rising young star in the US film industry, with her recent film Contrapelo selected for screening this week at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.
Liu Pin-chun (劉品均), who has worked under Academy Award winner Ang Lee (李安), is the producer of Contrapelo.
To be featured at the festival, Liu’s work had to beat 3,000 entries from around the world vying for the chance for a screening at the event, which runs from today through April 27.
Contrapelo, which is listed as a narrative short film in the festival’s menu, was co-produced by Molo Alcocer and directed by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, and the script was written by Liska Ostojic.
The 28-year-old Liu hails from southern Taiwan. After graduating with a degree in sociology from National Taiwan University in Taipei, she studied cinema at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles.
She was inspired to go into cinema after working as a production assistant on Ang Lee’s box-office hit movie Life of Pi when the film was being shot at various sites around Taiwan in 2011.
“I was in awe while working on Life of Pi with Ang Lee’s film crew. That motivated me and prompted my decision to go to Hollywood and learn filmmaking,” Liu said.
For Contrapelo, she worked with a multinational production team, with members from the US, Mexico, Brazil, India, Serbia and other countries.
Contrapelo is entirely in Spanish and tells the story of a proud Mexican barber who is forced to shave the leader of a drug cartel. By the end of the shave, the barber will find out that he and the capo are not so different.
She said the work took five days to film, at a cost of about NT$1 million (US$33,166), although that does not reflect the amount of work it took to complete the film, because “just the pre-production work lasted several months.”
After graduating from the American Film Institute, Liu and several of her former classmates got together to start their own production company, Ocenta y Cinco Films, based in Los Angeles.
Liu said she had to drum up financing and seek investors for their film projects.
Her job also entails finding the right director; screen testing actors; coordinating set construction, film photography, lighting and musical scores; obtaining copyrights to music; as well as fixing or replacing damaged equipment.
Liu said she is determined to continue on this path.
“I feel that being a producer will allow me to have the most influence on society, through movies,” she said.
“Through teamwork and coordinating the whole process together, we can make films that can touch the hearts of the audience,” she added.
Liu said that most Chinese students going into the film industry want to become directors, while most US students want to be screenwriters, and she stands apart because she wants to be a producer.
“I hope to put my role as a producer to good use, by making an impact on society through our films,” she said.