Singapore-based film production outfit Potocol, whose “Tomorrow is a Long Time,” by Jow Zhi Wei bowed at the Berlin Film Festival’s Generation 14plus competition, has revealed a diverse Asian slate.
Potocol’s recent triumphs include Bangladeshi filmmaker Abdullah Mohammad Saad’s Cannes selection “Rehana Maryam Noor” and Indonesian director Makbul Mubarak’s Venice winner “Autobiography.” The company, led by Jeremy Chua who is currently at the Berlinale, has a growing reputation for championing the rise of young filmmakers from across Asia.
Potocol has four films in post-production and several more in development. Nicole Midori Woodford’s debut feature “Last Shadow at First Light” is a supernatural road trip drama that follows a Singaporean teenager tracing the footsteps of her missing mother in Japan and explores the ripple effects of a traumatic event subconsciously buried within the family unit.
A winner of several project development and market prizes at SEAFIC, TorinoFilmLab, Talents Tokyo, Busan Asian Project Market and European Work in Progress Cologne, the film shot between Singapore and Japan is coproduced with Shozo Ichiyama in Japan and European Film Award-winning producer Bostjan Virc of Studio Virc in Slovenia.
Former fencing champion Nelicia Low’s debut “Pierce,” which won the LAVALabs prize at the 2022 edition of European Work In Progress Cologne, is a psychological crime drama that dives into the tension-filled world of a meek teenage fencer struggling to deal with the sudden return of his sociopathic brother from juvenile prison as he grapples with how to save his brother from his inner demons.
The film is shot by Michal Dymek (“EO”) and sound designed by veteran Tu Duu Chih, known for his work with Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Edward Yang. Led by emerging producer, Sam Chua, who developed the project at Full Circle Lab, it is a coproduction with John M. Low, Patrick Mao Huang’s Flash Forward Entertainment in Taiwan and Iza Igel’s Harine Films in Poland.
Potocol is working with Tran Van Thi’s JK Film in Vietnam and Marie Dubas’ Duexième Ligne Films in France to complete Pham Thien An’s first feature, “Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell.” Pham’s single-take short film “Stay Awake, Be Ready” won the Illy Prize at Cannes in 2019. The film follows the philosophical quest of a restless man toiling in the city who is suddenly bestowed the task of bringing the body of his dead sister-in-law back to his countryside hometown after a freak accident while searching for his vanished brother to return his young nephew who survived.
Potocol has also partnered with Oh Youngjeong’s One Point Zero/One Plus Point in Myanmar, Ingrid Lill Høgtun’s DUOFilm, Charlotte Guerin’s Massala Production and Jean-Baptiste Bailly-Maître of Alpha Violet in France for the second fiction feature of Burmese director The Maw Naing, “The Women.” After participating at Cannes Cinéfondation L’Atelier and winning the Vision Sud Est and Sorfond awards at Locarno Open Doors, the project faced turbulence in preproduction during the military coup of 2021 in Myanmar and was shot in total secrecy last year.
Inspired by an actual women’s strike in 2014, the film tells the story of a teenage girl working in a garment factory to feed her young siblings who bands with a group of fellow young women workers to strike against a tyrant factory boss and unpaid wages while the threat of the military police is dangerously close outside the factory compound.
Potocol’s 2023 feature development slate is overseen by Jeremy Chua, Sam Chua and Bambby Cheuk.
It includes “Filipiñana” by 2020 Berlinale Silver Bear Short winner Rafael Manuel from the Philippines; “Penumbra” by Singaporean film and visual artist Russell Morton who shot Kenneth Dagatan’s 2023 Sundance title “In My Mother’s Skin” and Jow’s “Tomorrow is a Long Time”; and “Daughter of the Mountain God” by Vietnam’s Pham Hoang Minh Thy whose last short “Live in Cloud-Cuckoo Land” was a 2020 Venice selection.
The development slate also includes “Midnight Blue Spring” by Singapore’s Giselle Lin whose debut short, “Time Flows in Strange Ways on Sundays” was a 2021 Locarno pick; “Tiger’s Pond” by India’s Natesh Hedge won at Nantes and Pingyao for his debut feature “Pedro”; and “The Poet’s Unrest” by Singaporean visual and documentary artist Liao Jiekai who has presented past work at Rotterdam, Tokyo, Sheffield Docs and Cinéma du Réel.
“My team and I are proud to put a spotlight on these bravely distinctive directors, radical in their own way, who intimately handcraft films in their own peculiar tone, rhythm and approach. They vividly push the possibilities of how contemporary image and sound can bring about new narratives in Asian cinema, and we will strive to find the best path for their release into the world cinema stage where they belong,” Jeremy Chua told Variety.
“Tomorrow is a Long Time,” on which Akanga Film Asia and Potocol are producers, premiered at the Berlinale on Feb. 18. Pluto Film is handling world sales.